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Lincoln Laboratory Logo
The MIT Lincoln Laboratory Logo, which first appeared in February 1958 in the Lincoln Laboratory Bulletin, was conceived by Carl Overhage, the Laboratory's fourth director. Overhage drew a Lissajous figure based on the superposition of two simple harmonic vibrations and commissioned retired Brigadier General Robert Steinle and the firm Advertising Designers of Los Angeles to transform the Lissajous figure into an artistic image.
The two L's rotated 180 degrees with respect to each other stand for Lincoln Laboratory. They form a rectangle enclosing the Lissajous figure generated by the parametric equations x = 3 sin(8πt/T) and y = 4 sin(6πt/T). The figure is traced along the horizontal axis x and the vertical axis y as the variable t progresses from t = 0 to T.
The MIT Lincoln Laboratory logo is an identifying symbol on Laboratory reports, presentation materials, badges, and signs. Because of its distinctive and striking appearance, it was included in the 1972 edition of The Book of American Trademarks, a compilation of the nation's most significant trademarks, logos, and corporate symbols.
— from MIT Lincoln Laboratory: Technology in the National Interest,
ed. Eva C. Freeman, Lexington, Mass.: MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 1995.
The Lissajous figure, familiar to most physical scientists and engineers, connotes harmony, order and stability. The Lissajous figures, named for the French mathematician Jules-Antoine Lissajous, are also known as Bowditch curves after their discoverer, Nathaniel Bowditch, the mathematician from Salem, Massachusetts.
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