But politics and skulduggery couldn't keep this raw genius down for long. In 1957, during a booze- and cigarette-fueled weekend, Gould wrote a nine-page thesis inventing not just a way to create light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, but also inventing its more iconic name: the laser. Realizing this was his ticket back into the fold of respectability, he immediately went to have his work notarized, which was smart. The place he decided to do it at was the neighborhood candy store, which was the opposite of smart.
After consulting his jellybean jurists, Gould was convinced by a lawyer that he needed to have a working prototype before he could get the patent for his invention. Which is patently untrue (sorry), but sure was a windfall for the private company he joined so he could have access to the materials to build said prototype. They immediately filed for a government grant to develop the laser, and the government then classified Gould's notes and booted him off the project because of, again, the communist thing.
With Gould no longer in control of his own invention, his colleague Charles H. Townes not only took over the project and claimed its patent, but also published the work without crediting Gould at all. Gould tried to stop Townes from taking credit by finally filing patents of his own, but the heartbroken scientist had to sit and watch as Townes received the Nobel Prize for Science in 1964. After 30 years of fighting, Gould did manage to at least gain the royalties, netting him a cool $30 million. Gould died rich and relatively happy in 2005, but the odds that his name will wind up in any school textbooks remain laser-thin.