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MAURICE ANTHONY BIOT 1905-1985 BY RAYMOND D . MINDLIN MAURICE ANTHONY BIOT died on September 1 2, 1985, while he and his wife Nady were reacting at home in Brussels, Belgium. By the time of his cleath, he tract built a clistin- guishec3 career of research, teaching, and consulting that spanned a broad range of science and technology centered in classical mechanics. His work extenclect from the most highly theoretical and mathematical problems through ex- perimental studies to practical applications and patented in- ventions. He was active in his field until the clay of his death. My oIc! friend Tony Biot was born in Antwerp, Belgium, on May 25, 1905. His early college training was at the Uni- versity of Louvain in Belgium, from which he receiver! a bachelor's degree in Thomistic philosophy in 1927. Then, in rapicI succession (at only one-year intervals), he collected mining and electrical engineering degrees and a doctorate in the sciences with enough time to spare to complete the cur- riculum at the Louvain Institute of Economic Sciences. Within another year, after emigrating to the Unitec! States, he earnect a doctorate in aeronautical sciences from the Cali- fornia Institute of Technology. It was also at Caltech that he began his long, fruitful association with Theodore von Karman. After leaving Caltech, Biot held teaching positions at Elar- varc! University's Graduate School of Engineering (1934- 31
32 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES 1935), the University of Louvain (1936-1937), Columbia University (1937-1946, interrupted by his two-year enlist- ment in the U.S. Navy beginning in 194~)), and Brown Uni- versity (1946-19521. Subsequently, he became a consultant, working mainly with the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, Shell Development Company, anti the Mobil Research anc! Development Company. ~ first met Tony Biot more than fifty years ago during a summer session at the University of Michigan, where he tract stopped on his way from Caltech to Harvarcl. In those clays, young engineering teachers of his age from all over the United States converged on the Ann Arbor campus each summer, where they were taught the theory and applications of solicl mechanics by Stephen Timoshenko anti, occasionally, by H. M. Westergaard and R. V. Southwell. In the fall, these young men (there were no women in attendance at that time) went back home to spread the solid mechanics "gospel"- new to this country among their own students. Tony Biot was well beyond this stage, however; by 1934, he had aIreacly publishect some two clozen research papers in this area. In the 1930s, while most of us were concerned about simple stea~ly-state vibrations, Tony had aIreacly published some of his pioneering works on the response of structures to transient disturbances. While we were struggling with the elements of the theory of elasticity, he had aIreacly begun to publish his nonlinear, seconcl-orcler theory accounting for the effects of initial stress and large rotation. When we were first being introducecl to the mysteries of photoelasticity, he was already an oIct hanct, having published papers on exper- imental techniques and applications to thermal ancI shrink- age stresses by means of mathematical analogies. In aciclition, Tony's first few papers on soil mechanics (in- volving foundation pressures anc! consolidation) had ap- pearect by this time, as had his works on fluic! flows and elec- tromagnetic wave propagation. By ~ 935 he had been awarded a number of patents ranging from a steering link- age for automobiles to the now well-known scheme of air-
MAURICE ANTHONY BIOT 33 craft navigation based on the establishment of fixed- interference patterns of radio waves. From the early 1930s until the time of his cleath, Blot con- tinued to make notable advances in the fielcts he had entered at the beginning of his career. His early interest in fluicts and aeronautics lect to his later work in transonic and supersonic aerodynamics, the three-dimensional theory of airfoil flutter, anct the introduction of matrix methods and generalized co- orctinates in aeroelasticity. He applied his ideas of mechanical transients to the clesign of earthquake-resistant buildings, to aircraft lancling gear, and to the sound emitted from stringed musical instruments. His initial papers on soil consolidation blossomed into his general mathematical theory of porous media with applica- tions to geophysical prospecting and well logging. His inge- nious solutions of problems involving the reflection of elec- tromagnetic and acoustic waves from rough surfaces are outgrowths of his early interest in radio waves. Tony Biot's initial work on thermal stresses developed into a major advance in irreversible thermodynamics. His concep- tions of generalizecl free energy and entropy displacement vectors macle it possible to establish variational principles on which he based his new methods for the solution of problems in heat conduction, diffusion, thermoelasticity, thermovis- coelasticity, and chemical reactions. He published an exten- sive review of this work in Advances in Applied Mechanics, (vol. 24, pp. 1-91 ENew York: Academic Press, 198411. In a(ldi- tion, his longtime interest in the nonlinear effects of initial stress anct the inelastic behavior of solicis culminated in his mathematical theory of the folding of stratified rock, com- plete with its amazingly detailect physical verification, both in the laboratory and on the geological time scale. Tony Biot's accomplishments Did not go unrecognized. He was awarcled the Timoshenko Meclal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in ~ 962 and the Theodore von Kar- man Meclal of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1967. He was electec! to the Royal Academy of Sciences of
34 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES Belgium in 1966 and to the U.S. National Academy of Engi- neering in 1967. In 1983 he became the seventh recipient of the Acoustical Society of America's honorary fellowship. In celebration of his seventy-fifth birthday, the Indian Institute of Technology cleclicated the fourteenth volume of its Journal of Mathematical and Physical Sciences to him, listing his reports, patents, and research publications as well as his three books: Mathematical Methods of Engineering, coauthored! by Theodore von Karman (New York: McGraw-Hill, 19401; Mechanics of Incremental Deformation (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1965~; ant] Variational Principles in Heat Transfer (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970~. Biot possessed a strong consciousness of the physical world that surrounded him. His keen insight enabled him to rec- ognize the essential features of a physical phenomenon and to build them into a mathematical mode] without blincIly in- cluding nonessentials. In acIdition, he hacl at his fingertips the tools of mathematical analysis and analytical methods of approximation, which he used skillfully to extract from the mode! predictions of the hitherto unpredictable. The philosophy unclerlying Tony Biot's work and success is revealed in his acceptance speech on the occasion of the award of the Timoshenko Medal. This speech is published in Applied Mechanics Reviews, (vol. 16, no. 2, February 1963, pp. 89-901: Let us hope for a revival of humanism and a spirit of synthesis in sci- ence. Let us also put new emphasis on engineering as a professional craft, requiring high skill, natural talent, deserving social recognition, and distinctly different from the scientific professions as such. New stirrings are appearing in this direction. I am inclined to believe that engineers and engineering schools will play an important part in re- storing the unity and central viewpoint in the natural sciences. This is because modern engineering by its very nature must be synthetic.