Size: 7 x 10
Pages: 40
Illustrations: 21 color photos, 4 b&w halftones

Children's Literature
Young Palmetto Books
Back to previous page

First, You Explore

The Story of the Young Charles Townes

Rachel Haynie

Published: Apr 25 2014




Published: May 2 2014

OA Ebook
Published: May 2 2014


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

An inspirational biography of the Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the laser

"Do exploration. Do things that are new and different."

This is the philosophy that Charles H. Townes has lived by since he was a young boy growing up on a small farm in Greenville, South Carolina. While tending to chores, exploring the outdoors, and tinkering with broken tools and equipment, Townes began what became a lifelong love of exploring and inventing. His passion for new things drove him to an amazing career of discoveries that have changed the world.

All of us have been affected by Townes's work, especially his most famous contribution to science: the laser. We're surrounded by lasers, and we may not even realize it: they are in computers, DVD players, atomic clocks, and barcode scanners at the grocery store checkout counter. Doctors, police, astronomers, and even Hollywood filmmakers use lasers regularly in their work. This extraordinary technology was made possible by Townes's hard work and dedication to the "new and different," winning him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1964.

In First, You Explore, the first biography of Townes, Rachel Haynie chronicles the scientist's boyhood fascination with the physical world and his early reading, experiments, and exploration of his surroundings on his family's farm. Now at age ninety-eight, Townes is still actively involved in science and education, serving as a guiding force for the planetarium and observatory at the South Carolina State Museum.

This inspirational biography includes a timeline of Charles Townes's major life events and additional biographical information that parents and educators will find useful as teaching tools.

South Carolina native Rachel Haynie is a freelance writer and editor for regional publications and corporate communications. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in education from the University of South Carolina.

Trahern Cook is a professional illustrator for print media and children's publications. A graduate of the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, Cook maintains a studio on his family farm in Columbia, South Carolina.

"Such a meaningful presentation of Charles Townes' early years! Cast for the interest and understanding of inquisitive minds, like that of my grandson Parker Shelton, the long awaited, true-life success story supports youngsters' learning—just as Dr. Townes has throughout his illustrious career."—Ronald Shelton, South Carolina State Museum Curator, retired; Board Member, South Carolina Science Council, South Carolina Chapter of the National Science Teachers Association.

"Following the footsteps of Dr. Towne's life in this wonderful book will provide the footprints of inspiration for many generations to come."—Mary Wood Beasley, Former First Lady of South Carolina, and Honorary Co-Chair (with Dr. Townes), Windows to New Worlds Campaign, South Carolina State Museum.

"First, You Explore captures the essence of my uncle's young years—when he was inspired and encouraged by parents and other relatives. By setting examples for scientists like me and curious young adventurers—such as my granddaughters Eva and Sarah, he instills such inspiration."—Robert K. Taylor III, M.S., P.E., Design Research Engineering

"In addressing the First Annual Laser Light Conference upon the laser's 50th anniversary, Dr. Townes revealed childhood influences that shaped his career and faith, including many that now will inspire future scientists - and all young learners reading First, You Explore."—Joseph d'Entremont, President, Lenox Laser, Inc., host of the First Annual Laser Light Conference.

"This inspirational biography includes a timeline of Charles Townes's major life events and additional biographical information that parents and educators will find useful as teaching tools."—Bob Edmonds, McCormick Messenger

"Finally, a text that introduces young readers to our native son, Charles Townes. Wonderfully illustrated and with stories that connect to our youthful scientific explorations. A must read for our children and students as we encourage our youth to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers."—John G. Kaup, coordinator of science education, Furman University

The 2015 Selection of the Richland County, South Carolina, Together We Can Read Program

Books, News & Resources!

Sign up to receive updates on new books, promotions, and USC Press news.