Sept 18, 2014 - Stephen R. Wilk

How the Ray Gun Got Its Zap! Odd Excursions in Optics

Joint Meeting with the New England Section of SID

The Ray Gun is a familiar pop culture icon, ubiquitous in science fiction and fantasies from Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon through Star Trek and Star Wars to the latest movies. But it is not an obvious or inevitable outgrowth of speculative fiction – there are no ray guns in the works of Jules Verne, or in Edgar Rice Burroughs’s stories of Mars (at least, until they started to appear elsewhere in fiction). Where did it come from, and how did it assume the central position it occupies in futuristic and alien armories? 



Stephen R. Wilk

Stephen R. Wilk is a Senior Member of the Optical Society of America, and for the past decade has been a Contributing Editor for Optics and Photonics News. He has worked for GE, AOtec, Optikos, Textron, Lincoln Labs, Cognex, and elsewhere. Steve has been a Visiting Professor of Electro-Optics at Tufts and a Visiting Scientist at MIT. He has written on Optics, Physics, History, Mythology, and Pop Culture. His first book was Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon. His latest book is How the Ray Gun Got Its Zap! – Odd Excursions in Optics, which was published by Oxford University Press in October.



Pre-registration discount DINNER reservations must be made by 6 PM, September 15, 2014, the Monday before the meeting. Full-price reservation accepted thereafter. Walk-ins welcome at full-price. MEETING-ONLY registrations appreciated by September 17, the day before the meeting.

Please make reservations online. Reservations may also be left on the answering machine at 617.584.0266. We no longer have an email address for reservations due to SPAM. When making reservation requests, please provide the following information:

  • DINNER AND MEETING or meeting only
  • Name(s) and membership status
  • Daytime phone number where you can be reached (in case of change or cancellation)


Rebeccas Cafe (Located in back of the office complex)
275 Grove Street
Auburndale, MA 02466

(617) 969-3282

(Map to Rebecca's).

Networking—5:45 PM, Dinner—6:45, Meeting—7:30 PM.


Vegetarian option available on request

Dinner Prices:

   Register on/before
 DINNER Reservation Date 
 Late Reservations 


Members and their guests 

 $25.00 each   $30.00 
 Non-members   $30.00 (See NOTE Below)   $35.00 
 Students   $5.00   $5.00 
 Post-Docs   $15.00   $15.00 








NOTE: The NES/OSA has not changed dinner prices in several years but has been facing higher costs. We will maintain the current dinner prices for those reserving dinner on the requested date but still try to accommodate late reservations.

General Information on NES/OSA Meetings

Cancellations and No-shows:

If the meeting must be canceled for any reason, we will try to call you at the phone number you leave with your reservation. Official notice of cancellation will be on our answering machine.

We have to pay for the dinners reserved as of the Tuesday before the meeting, so no-shows eat into our cash reserve. If you will not be able to attend, please let us know as early as possible. Otherwise, no-shows will be billed.

Membership Rates:

Regular members $15.00
Student members free




NOTE: The extra $5.00 of the non-member dinner fee can be used toward membership dues if the nonmember joins and pays dues for the current year at the meeting.