5 Words That Mean Something Different To A Laser Physicist


It has been quite a stressful week for me, I am quite new to research and I got my first chance to help write an experimental proposal this week. Having read many scientific papers, I realised how important the language I use is and that certain words that mean something to me, a laser physicist, mean something entirely different to someone that isn’t in my field. On top of that, I love creating word clouds for documents I write in science, to see how much jargon we use. The following image is the word cloud for the proposal I helped write. Can you guess what the experiment is?

A word cloud for the experimental proposal I helped write.Meriame Berboucha/WordClouds.com

Anyway, here are 5 words that, as a laser physicist, I use quite a bit which might mean something different to you .


Normally, color is just the colors you see in the world around you. So maybe you would have a preference to the color of the top or jeans or shoes you are wearing. To a laser physicist, the color of their laser is so important. The color of a laser refers to the wavelength of the light from the laser. You can get green, red, infrared, or UV lasers, to name a few. All these ‘colors’ of lasers are used for different experiments, depending on the wavelength and also other properties.


A field might be somewhere where you play football in, sunbathe in, or have a picnic in. But, in laser physics, field typically refers to the magnetic or electric field of the laser beam. The electric field of an intense laser beam can cause ionisation or help accelerate particles in a plasma for a process known as laser wakefield acceleration, just to name a few processes.


You might use intense to describe a situation that was heated, maybe an argument. In terms of lasers, an intense laser is a powerful one. You have different classes of lasers which all have different powers. Class 1 lasers are amongst the safest and class 4 are dangerous: they can harm your eyes and even your skin.


In the experiments I will hopefully be a part of will include using a gas jet. This is basically gas going through a narrow nozzle and being injected into a vacuum chamber, where it will laser be zapped with a laser to produce x-rays for probing an object under investigation.


Having used the word probe in the previous paragraph, I thought it was only correct of me to include it in my list of words. Probe to you, might mean, to poke someone, maybe to reveal their secrets. To a laser physicist, probe describes the action of investigating the properties or characteristics of a sample or object in question.

Let me know ways that you use these words at work or during everyday life – I am curious to know if they mean something different to you.

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