Person: Mason, Charles Max
Max Mason was an American mathematician who work on differential equations, the calculus of variations and electromagnetic theory.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Max studied at the University of Wisconsin which he entered intending to read for a degree in engineering.
- On the academic side, which he did take seriously despite his many outside interests, he took some mathematics courses from Charles Sumner Slichter who turned Mason on to mathematics.
- Mason then went to Germany in the autumn of 1900 where studied for his doctorate at the University of Göttingen, working under Hilbert's supervision.
- He then gave Mason a second problem which led to a substantial and impressive thesis.
- Mason then returned to the United States, accepting a post of instructor in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- After spending the academic year 1903-4 at MIT, Mason spent the next four years as assistant professor of mathematics at Yale.
- Mason was appointed and transferred to the physics department.
- The idea for this type of detector was due to the French Navy, and Mason learned of the French device at a meeting at the National Research Council in July 1917.
- Mason worked with colleagues to produce a prototype which was first tested on a raft in Lake Mendota, then tested on a ship off the east coast of the United States.
- the short time required to bring this detector into service is almost complete evidence of the energy and ability which Mason concentrated upon this problem.
- Mason left Wisconsin in 1925 to become president of the University of Chicago.
- Although Mason had little experience of university administration, it was his experience in managing the large research team developing the submarine detectors which convinced the Board that he was the right man for the job.
- One might have expected that Mason would have stayed in his post as president of the University of Chicago for a long spell; certainly many around the university expected that he would.
- Mason was the director of Natural Sciences Division of the Rockefeller Foundation for one year and then became president of the foundation in 1929 after George E Vincent retired.
- After becoming president, Mason approached Weaver to take up the post of director of the Natural Sciences Division.
- Mason held the position of president until 1936 when he moved to California to join the team directing the construction of the Palomar Observatory.
- George Ellery Hale, the original designer of the 200-inch telescope, died shortly after Mason joined the team and he took over as chairman.
- Mason used his engineering skills to solve these problems with the telescope which was completed in 1948.
- Mason's mathematical research interests lay in differential equations, the calculus of variations and electromagnetic theory.
- After he retired in 1949, Mason moved to Claremont, California, and taught at Claremont College for a year.
Born 26 October 1877, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Died 23 March 1961, Claremont, California, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive