Acoustical Society of America
Biennial Award - 1964

Tony F. W. Embleton

The Biennial Award of the Acoustical Society of America is presented in the Spring of even-numbered years to a Member or Fellow who is under 35 years of age on 1 January of the year of the award and who, during the two or more years immediately preceding the award, has been active in the affairs of the Society and has contributed substantially, through published papers, to the advancement of theoretical and/or applied acoustics.

This year, at the banquet of the Society's Sixty-Seventh Meeting, the Biennial Award, the 12th since 1942, was presented to Tony F. W. Embleton, of the National Research Council, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The citation for the award and the text of the encomium by George J. Thiessen, also of the National Research Council, are presented here for JOURNAL readers.

The first issue of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America came out in October 1929, and on the first day of that same month, thousands of miles away in Hornchurch, England, just east of London, a son was born to Frederick and Lucy Embleton. It required considerable determination on Lucy Embleton's part to have this child subsequently christened as "Tony" because the minister officiating at this ceremony kept insisting that the name should be "Anthony" and, although she won this round, Tony has had to fight this same battle ever since.

He went to famous Brentwood School in Essex, where he received his high school diploma. Although he distinguished himself there, this was a period in which entrance to universities was very difficult to obtain since most of the positions were reserved for war veterans wishing to continue their studies. Even a scholarship did not guarantee admission. Tony, who is very systematic in his work as well as in the way he plans his life, did not like to leave this matter to change and so, with 1400 aspirants, sat the examination for a Royal Scholarship, which had the advantage of being accompanied by a reserved admission to Imperial College. Tony was one of the five successful candidates and could thus pursue his studies without interruption. He held this scholarship for three years and was awarded his B.Sc. in physics and mathematics in 1950. A University of London postgraduate studentship saw him through the next two years until he received his Ph.D. in 1952.

As in most subjects, Tony had shown exceptional abilities in languages and when he finished high school he was able to speak Latin (which especially appealed to him because of its orderliness and logic) just as easily as English. Unfortunately, the opportunities for speaking Latin did not occur very often and, while working for his doctorate, he decided to study Russian in the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. This was a most important decision since a young lady named Eileen Blackall, working for her Ph.D. in chemistry at University College, had made the same decision. The two met and have never been far apart since. Tony came to the National Research Council on a postdoctorate fellowship while Eileen went to Cornell on a Fulbright fellowship. Tony worked hard during the week but on weekends his old 1936 Chevrolet was usually seen heading south across the border. I had some misgivings about this old car, fearing that it might break down some day while in the vicinity of Ithaca and Tony might simply decide to stay there. To avoid this, I offered him a job, which he accepted. I should add that Eileen also accepted and I had the honor of giving the bride away on Sadie Hawkin's Day, 1953.

Tony has been with our group since November 1952, and in his time his interest, his energy, his ideas, and his good nature have never flagged. He has written twenty-five papers, ranging from shock waves to microphone calibration to using helium as a tracer for aerodynamic studies. Whenever he is confronted with a new problem, he is quick to recognize what others in the field have left undone and whether to fill this hole is likely to be fruitful. If the problem develops contrary to expectations, so much the better! In his work on radiation pressure, he showed experimentally, as well as theoretically, that, in a curved wavefield, an obstacle could be attracted to the source. His work on microphone calibration by the reciprocity method resulted in an improvement by a factor of ten in the accuracy and he now regularly calibrates our standards to one-hundredth of a decibel. He has also shown that the reciprocity technique can be used effectively up to 10 000 cps by using less-regular coupling cavities than is customary. Noise control has occupied a good part of his time and he is now engaged in providing a theoretical basis for the attenuation of sound by woods and forests.

Tony's methodical approach also extends to nonscientific endeavors. When, some years ago, he decided to buy a house, he set to work studying various kinds of houses to crystallize his own (and, of course, his family's) desires and requirements. He saw many houses and talked to many real-estate agents and ended up by knowing more about their business than they did. It was not surprising, therefore, that he finally dispensed with their services altogether when he bought his house. In case anyone thinks that so systematic and methodical a person must also be rather rigid, then let me say that nothing could be farther from the truth. He is very receptive to suggestions and if he rejects them it is for good reasons and only after carefully studying the pro's and con's.

Tony, his wife and 9-year-old daughter, Shelia, live quietly but actively in their home in Rockcliffe, a small residential village surrounded by the City of Ottawa. They are active in the work of the community and, besides his job at the Research Council, Tony teaches acoustics at the University of Ottawa where Eileen teaches chemistry part time. At college, Tony was on the rowing team and won his colors; but now, for relaxation, he and his daughter collect rocks in the summer and skate in the winter, while his hobbies of archeology and stamp collecting spread over both seasons. Actually, there is no limit to his interests and if you are at the airport with him he may surprise you by noting the serial number of one of TCA's planes and telling you its life history and repair record.

I was going to conclude by wishing Tony the best of luck, but he'll never leave anything to luck if he can help it and so I think it more appropriate that we simply extend our heartiest congratulations and wish him a long and fruitful association with this Society.