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Maxwell, retired Magnet Lab scientist, dies at age 87


A memorial service will be held in the MIT Chapel on Friday, Oct. 27 at 1:30pm for Dr. Emanuel Maxwell, a physicist who once worked for the Rad Lab, Lincoln Lab and the Magnet Lab.

Dr. Maxwell died of congestive heart failure on Friday, Oct. 6 at his home in Cambridge. He was 87.

Dr. Maxwell, a native of Brooklyn, NY, graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in 1930. He received the BS in engineering (1934) and the MS in electrical engineering (1935) from Columbia University, and the PhD in physics from MIT in 1948.

He began his scientific explorations as a young boy building crystal and tube radios; he was also a ham radio operator. His first job after college was working for RCA at the telegraph receiving station on Long Island where he relayed Morse code signals originating in Europe to New York City. His early professional career included work as a geophysicist with the Shell Oil Company in Texas and as a patent reviewer with the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, DC.

During World War II, the Radiation Laboratory at MIT recruited him to assist in the development of microwave radar that was used for reconnaissance efforts. After the war, Dr. Maxwell worked as a staff scientist in radar development and low temperature physics at Lincoln Laboratory. He joined the Francis Bitter National Magnet Laboratory in 1963 as a senior scientist and group leader. After retirement in 1983, he continued there as a part-time consultant and visiting scientist. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Federation of American Scientists.

He began studying the Greek language in the early 1970s and was a member of the Modern Greek Association. He was editor of Eleutheria, the newsletter for the Committee for the Restoration of Democratic Government in Greece. When he was 75, he took up the violin and continued weekly lessons until not long before his death.

He was married to Lee Katkow, who died in 1965, and Paniogata (Penny) Darras, who died in 1991. He leaves two daughters, Judy of New York, NY, and Tania and her husband Chris Osborne of Cambridge; a son, David of Concord, MA; one granddaughter, Annabelle of Jamaica Plain, MA; a sister, Dora Perks of Oakland, CA; two sisters-in-law, Ellen of Wellesley and Connie Sklivas of Beverly, MA; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 18, 2000.

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