The Catholic University of America

History of Acoustics at CUA

The Early Days

Scientific study of acoustic began at CUA as far back as the early 1930s with a few physics faculty members named J. C. Hubbard, George Rock and A. L. Qrirk and a graduate student, that was also a Catholic priest, named Father France Fox. Their research into absorption of sound probably caught the attention of a pair of faculty member at Johns Hopkins University who moved to CUA. The first was Karl Herzfeld, who can in 1937 to be the chair of he Physics Department and the second was Francis Rice who became the chair of Chemistry. While at Hopkins, they authored the first paper that postulated that chemical relaxation was an important mechanism in the absorption of sound.  This topic, acoustic dissipation, was the main area of acoustics research through to the 1960s.  A culmination of this work is the seminal 1959 book, “Absorption and dispersion of Ultrasonic Waves” by Herzfeld and Ted Litovitz.

After World War II

In about 1965 Frank Andrews came the School of Engineering as the director of the new program in acoustics. Andrews was an xx in the US Navy and conducted, along with sailors under his command, research related to implementation of sonar system. One of these sailors wrote the letter below describing his time with Andrews.