Thomas A. McMahon

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Thomas Arthur McMahon (April 21, 1943 – February 14, 1999) was a Professor of Applied Mechanics and Biology at Harvard University. His book Muscles, Reflexes and Locomotion is considered a classic on the mathematics, chemistry, biology, and mechanics of animal locomotion. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, and grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts.

He also wrote four well-regarded novels, the last published posthumously. Loving Little Egypt won the 1988 Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

McMahon was the inventor of the "tuned track," a special springy running surface installed in Harvard's Gordon indoor track and tennis facility. Subsequent tuned tracks were installed at Yale University and at Madison Square Garden in New York and are credited with improving running times as well as cutting in half the number of injuries. Characters in McMahon's novels are also credited with inventions, for example the odor amplifier.


  • Principles of American Nuclear Chemistry: A Novel (1970), Little, Brown and Company, ISBN 0-226-56110-0.
  • McKay's Bees (1979), Harper & Row, ISBN 0-226-56111-9.
  • Loving Little Egypt (1987), Viking Press, ISBN 0-226-56109-7.
  • Ira Foxglove (2004), Brook Street Press, ISBN 0-9724295-3-0.


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