Noise: My 62 Years of It!

by Anita DeWeese

FORT MYERS – Shell Point resident Laymon Miller was recently asked by the Acoustical Society of America to give a Distinguished Lecture speech to commemorate their 75th anniversary. The invitation to give the speech – aptly entitled, “Noise: My 62 Years of It” – was just one of the honors that have been bestowed on Miller, who has been a member of the Society since 1943.

For 62 years, sound has been Laymon Miller’s area of expertise. (Photo by Paul Schmidt, courtesy of Charlotte Sun-Herald.)
Born and raised in Texas, Laymon has been challenged by a variety of jobs relating to his beloved profession as an acoustician. An acoustician is a salesman who sells acoustic ceiling tile, right? Wrong! An acoustician is an acoustic engineer. Acoustics is the branch of physics that deals with sound and sound waves, while sound control is control of the sound you want to hear; and noise control is control of the sound you don’t want to hear.
In his forty-one years on the job, Laymon has dealt with noise control in relation to torpedoes, heating, ventilating and air conditioning acoustics; noise and vibrations in auditoriums, railroads and subways; and industrial noise in power plants, aircraft and airports.

Laymon was even called on to help damp the sound in President Lyndon Johnson’s office aboard Air Force One! Ironically, he solved the noise problem, but didn’t have high enough security clearance to actually present his solution in person! That particular 707 was used extensively by President Ronald Reagan during his eight-year term and was recently sent to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California for display.
Two months before Pearl Harbor, Laymon joined the Navy Lab on Underwater Sound at Harvard and spent the war years learning about underwater sounds and working on transducers for acoustic homing torpedoes. Developed at Bell Labs, these torpedoes were eventually responsible for sinking over 55 enemy submarines.
Bolt, Beranek & Newman, an acoustical consulting firm, hired Laymon in 1954. Dr. Leo Beranek, recently awarded the National Medal of Science by President George W. Bush, was his boss for twenty-seven years. During that time Laymon estimates he worked and consulted on about 2,000 jobs. He and a colleague co-authored a study on the noise made by cooling towers, which remained as a standard in the industry for many years. Another major job with BBN was working with the New York Port Authority on airport noise problems, in conjunction with the introduction of commercial jet airliners.
Laymon and his wife, Lucy, have been Shell Point residents for five years, where he serves on the Academy at Shell Point Advisory Committee. He also still continues as a contributing editor for Noise Control magazine and Sound and Vibration magazine.

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