Acoustical Society of America
Gold Medal Award - 2000

Murray Strasberg

MURRAY STRASBERG was born in New York City in 1917. While in high school he began to demonstrate this technological bent, joining the Physics Club and winning an automobile in an Erector Set contest with a working model of a complicated road-making machine. At the College of the City of New York, his interest in music and the new electronics lead to courses in Acoustics and Communication Engineering in addition to his Physics major and Chemistry minor. He graduated in 1938 with a B.S. in Physics.

The 30's depression was still on and it took several months of job hunting before he found work with a manufacturer of new equipment for instantaneous audio recording on plastic disks. Shortly thereafter he went to the U.S. Patent Office in Washington (perhaps hoping to follow Einstein's early career). Upon the U.S. entry into World War II, he joined what was then call the David Taylor Model Basin (DTMB), now the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warface Center, at a newly constructed facility in Carderock, Maryland. It is remarkable that now, 58 years after he started aside from temporary assignments elsewhere in the Navy organization and a term as a Fulbright Professorial Lecturer in Copenhagen, he is still active at DTMB in research, mentoring, and writing.

In 1944, he married Daoma Winston, a successful writer with over 70 novels published under her maiden name.

In his early career at DTMB, Murray was head of the Instruments and Measurements Branch. In addition to designing electro-acoustic instruments, he often went to sea to measure the noise radiated by submarines and surface ships. His earliest published works, now declassified, involved propeller cavitation noise measurements made on World War II submarines or with model propellers in water tunnels. This led to his long-standing interest in cavitation and bubble noise. Murray described in great detail the underlying physics of such phenomena in papers entitled "Gas bubbles as sources of sound in liquids" (1956) and "Hydrodynamic sources of sound" (1959). Although his early interests were in what we now call hydroacoustics, he also worked on structural acoustics problems, publishing his first JASA paper in 1948 on "Radiation from a diaphragm struck periodically by a mass," and later papers on radiation from vibrating bodies, the design of hydrophones, and a 3-kW, 60-Hz underwater sound source.

From 1949 to 1952 Murray served as Noise Consultant at the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships, returning to DTMB to head the Hydrodynamic Noise Section. During this time he earned MS and Ph.D degrees in Physics from the Catholic University of America in 1948 and 1956, respectively, while working and attending school part-time. Bob Apfel and Larry Crum, in their seconding letters from the Gold Medal, give Murray credit for first describing the concept of acoustic levitation of bubbles in his 1956 doctoral dissertation entitled "Onset of ultrasonic cavitation in tap water." From 1958 to 1960 he was at the Office of Naval Research, London Branch, as a Scientific Liaison Officer.

Upon returning to the U.S. in 1960, he began the most significant technical project of his career. When the first nuclear powered submarine SSN NAUTILUS went to sea, a previously unrecognized propeller-related acoustic signature source was detected at very long ranges. Murray was given the task of coordinating all the effects directed to uncovering the physical basis for his source, and then prescribing the remedial actions necessary to correct the problem. The project lasted for almost two decades utilizing the investigate talents and resources of multiple organizations from both within and outside the Navy. A summary article on this project written by Murray was published in the January 1999 issue of the classified U.S. Navy Journal of Underwater Acoustics.

In 1974, Murray officially retired from the Model Basin and for a number of years was a Visiting Professor in the Acoustics Program at the Catholic University of America. He is now still active at DTMB as a re-employed annuitant, continuing his efforts at a slightly reduced pace.

For many years Murray had been trying to find an explanation for unusually high damping observed in submarine vibration measurements. When he heard of C. Soize's work on "fuzzy structure" analysis. Murray immediately recognized its applicability to the problem he had been wrestling with. This led him in recent years to a number of papers and presentations on damping mechanisms in vibrating structures.

Murray's presentations, whether formal papers at Society meetings or informal discussions at the DTMB cafeteria, are a delight to hear. Even though one might not always fully agree with his comments, they are noted for their clarity, and usually made more colorful by a physical demonstration or interesting story from the past. When Murray is on the other side, amongst the audience, the speaker must be wary of Murray's questions, always posed in an amiable manner, the answers to which most always help clarify the issues for the speaker as well as the rest of the audience.

In addition to his many technical achievements, he has been a dedicated and active member of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) serving the Society long and well in many capacities, most notably in the Executive Council, 196972; as Associate Editor of JASA for "Acoustical News from Abroad," 197075; as President, 197475; as Secretary, 198790; and as ASA representative on the Governing Board of the America Institute of Physics, 198395. His term as President was especially eventful, beginning with the death of the Society's long-time Secretary, Treasurer and mainstay, Wallace Waterfall; then the reorganization of the Standards program; and then establishing a relationship between the Acoustical Society of America and the newly formed Institute of Noise Control Engineering. In recognition of his dedication to the Society, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Citation in 1990.

Murray's outstanding contributions to the science of acoustics, and his dedication to the well-being of the Society, sometimes in most unusual circumstances, cry out for his Gold Medal recognition. I end this encomium by quoting from David Blackstock's nominating letter, in which he said, "I'll steal Moe Greenspan's remark here:" `When Murray is awarded the Gold Medal, I'll feel more comfortable about mine'."

David Feit