Warren P. Mason
Acoustical Society of America
Gold Medal Award
Warren P. Mason
THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA has chosen Warren Perry Mason to receive its highest award, the Gold Medal. By this action, the Society not only adds another distinguished scientist to the group of recipients of the Gold Medal, but also adds a highly prized honor to those already conferred on Warren.
Most of Warren Mason's professional career has been spent in the service of Bell Laboratories. On the occasion of his retirement from that organization in 1965, the Council of the Acoustical Society of America honored him by designating a special issue of the JOURNAL as the Warren P. Mason Commemorative Issue. This issue, published in April 1967, includes a chronological list of his publications and patents as of that date.
It is appropriate to reprint here the biographical sketch that R. Bruce Lindsay prepared for the Commemorative Issue.
In Honor of Warren Perry Mason
The many professional fields of Warren Perry Mason are delighted to do him honor through this special issue of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, which contains a collection of articles whose authors have worked in fields closely related to Dr. Mason's research, and who have in many cases profited greatly from his published work.
Warren Perry Mason was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on 28 September 1900. He received the degree of Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas in 1921 and the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in physics from Columbia University in 1928. Dr. Mason joined the Bell System in 1921 as a member of the Western Electric Company's Physical Research Department (which later became part of Bell Telephone Laboratories) and he remained with the Laboratories until his retirement in September 1965. Dr. Mason has since assumed the position of Professor of Engineering Mechanics in the Department of Engineering and Applied Science of the Columbia University.
The catalogue of Warren Mason's scientific achievements is a long and highly distinguished one.
His very first work in the old laboratory on West Street in New York was concerned with carrier-current telephony, and his first paper on "A New Harmonic Analyzer" was published in the American Journal of Science in June 1921. He soon moved over to the field of acoustic filtration, on which he wrote his doctor's thesis for his degree at Columbia. This field of research in which Mason was a pioneer led to the appearance of some 10 papers on both acoustic and electric filters in the period from 1927 to 1937, in such journals as the Bell System Technical Journal, the Bell Laboratories Record, The Physical Review, and The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Volume 1 of our JOURNAL (January 1930) contained one of Mason's early papers on filtration.
In the midthirties, Mason became interested in piezoelectric crystals as elements in transducers and devoted many years of study to quartz, rochelle salt, and ADP, the results of which were of great value in World War II. The forties saw a development of interest in the acoustical properties of solids and liquids, particularly in connection with ultrasonic transmission. In 1948, Mason became head of a new department at Bell Laboratories called Mechanics Research and carried out or supervised research in such varied fields as adhesion and friction in metals, photoelasticity, ultrasonic delay lines, high-pressure effects, and the mechanical properties of materials in the ultrasonic- and hypersonic-frequency regions. This work has contributed greatly to scientific knowledge of the physical nature of solids and liquids and has also led to important technological applications.
The relatively enormous scope of Warren Mason's research activity is indicated in his 166 published articles and his four major treatises. The latter are Electromechanical Transducers and Wave Filters (1942, 2nd ed. 1948); Piezoelectric Crystals and Their Application to Ultrasonics (1950); Physical Acoustics and the Properties of Solids (1958); Crystal Physics of Interaction Processes (1966). Not to be overlooked is the distinguished series of encyclopedic treatises of which he is Editor on Physical Acoustics—Principles and Methods. These volumes began to appear in 1964 and will ultimately amount to more than seven volumes. If any one person can be said to represent the development of physical acoustics in the United States of America, it is Warren Mason. Moreover, with all his concern for the pure physics of sound, he did not neglect the practical side. He has been the most prolific inventor in the history of Bell Telephone Laboratories, having been granted 191 patents. A complete study of these patents, covering as they do a wide variety of acoustical, electrical, mechanical, and optical devices, would fill a large treatise and anyone who knows Mason cannot believe that his fertile imagination and prodigious energy will allow him to rest on his present laurels. In order that the record may be available to all, a complete bibliography of Mason's papers and a list of his patents have been included in this issue of the JOURNAL.
Warren Mason has been active in the affairs of numerous professional societies, including of course the Acoustical Society of America, of which he has long been a Fellow, has served on committees and was President from 1955–1956. He is a Fellow of The American Physical Society and of the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers. He was elected to Sigma Xi and Tau Beta Pi, and is also an honorary member of the Audio Engineering Society.
Mason was the recipient in 1964 of the Instrument Society of America's Arnold O. Beckman Award for his researches in both low- and high-frequency acoustic-wave propagation, in electrical networks, and solid-state physics. He also received the Distinguished Alumni Award of the University of Kansas in 1965. On 22 March 1967, at the IEEE International Convention banquet in New York, the Lammé Medal Award was conferred on Mason for "... outstanding contributions in the fields of sonics and ultrasonics, and for his original work in designs of and applications for electromechanical transducers."
It is a pleasure and an honor to dedicate this issue of the JOURNAL to Warren Perry Mason and to wish him continued success in his outstanding professional career.
R. Bruce Lindsay
Everyone who knows Warren Mason will expect that a biography written in 1967 needs to be updated, and such is the case. Since his retirement from Bell Laboratories, his affiliation with Columbia University includes two years as a visiting professor in Civil Engineering, two as research professor in Civil Engineering, and one and one-half as research professor in the Henry Krumb School of Mines, dividing his time between metallurgy and geophysics. In 1969, the Institute for the Study of Fatigue and Reliability with which he was connected in the Civil Engineering Department moved to George Washington University. Since that time, he has been spending quarter-time there. In these five and one-half years, he has published 23 papers, concerned mainly with the effects of dislocations on the attenuation of sound waves and on the fatigue of metals. During the last one and one-half years, he has been working on a low-frequency component of dislocation motion that gives an attenuation proportional to the frequency and accounts for the loss in impure metals, alloys, and the attenuation of seismic waves in the earth's crust.
In 1969, Warren Mason was again honored formally. At the International Conference on Ultrasonic Attenuation and Internal Friction in Crystalline Solids, held at Brown University, he was presented with an award for outstanding contributions to the subject of the conference.
Robert N. Thurston
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