Maurice Biot

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Maurice Biot
Maurice Biot headshot.png
BSc Electrical Engineering
PhD Aeronautical Science
BSc university Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium
PhD university California Institute of Technology

Maurice Anthony Biot (May 25, 1905 – September 12, 1985) was a Belgian-American aeronautical engineer and the founder of the theory of poroelasticity.

Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Biot studied at Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium where he received a bachelor's degrees in philosophy (1927), mining engineering (1929) and electrical engineering (1930), and Doctor of Science in 1931. He obtained his Ph.D. in Aeronautical Science from the California Institute of Technology in 1932 under Theodore von Kármán.

In 1930s and 1940s Biot worked at Harvard University, the Catholic University of Leuven, Columbia University and Brown University, and later for a number of companies and government agencies. During the period between 1932 and 1942, he conceived and then fully developed the response spectrum method (RSM) for earthquake engineering[2] which was further promoted by George W Housner.

In the period between 1935 and 1962 Biot published a number of scientific papers that lay the foundations of the theory of poroelasticity (now known as Biot theory), which describes the mechanical behaviour of fluid-saturated porous media. He also made a number of important contributions in areas of aerodynamics, irreversible thermodynamics and heat transfer, viscoelasticity and thermoelasticity, among other fields.[1]

Purportedly Biot was interested in reports of unidentified flying objects, and in a 1952 interview with Life expressed his support of the extraterrestrial hypothesis.[2]

Biot is a recipient of the Timoshenko Medal (1962) and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences the same year. He died in New York City aged 80.

1966 Biography

Geophysics 1966, vol XXXI n. 1

Maurice A. Biot holds degrees in Philosophy, Mining Engineering, Electrical Engineering, a Doctorate in Physics from the University of Louvain (1931), and a Ph.D. in Aeronautical Sciences from the California Institute of Technology in 1932. He has taught applied Mathematics and mechanics at Harverd, Louvain, Columbia, and Brown Universities. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and he is a member of the American Physical Society, the A.S.M.E., the AGU, and the SSA. Since 1947, he has been a consultant with Shell Development Company and the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory. More recently, he has also been a private contractor with the Air Force office of Scientific Research.


[1] Wikipedia Article on Maurice Anthony Biot[1]

[2] "Have We Visitors From Space?" Darrach, H. B. and Robert Ginna. Life Magazine. 07 April 1952[2]

[3] Tolstoy, Ivan (May 1986). "Obituary: Maurice A. Biot". Physics Today 39 (5): 104–106. doi:10.1063/1.2815015.

[4] Links to Obituaries of Maurice Biot[3] [4]