Benjamin Lax was born in Hungary, on 29 December 1915, and immigrated to the United States in August 1926. He received the B.S. degree in mechanical engineering in 1941 from Cooper Union, New York, N.Y., and the Ph.D. degree in physics, in 1949, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge.
After entering the U.S. Army in 1942, Lax went through OCS, and then through radar school at Harvard University and MIT. He was a Radar Officer assigned to M.I.T. Radiation Laboratory from 1944 to 1946, when he became a Consultant for Sylvania Electric Company. From 1949 to 1951, he carried out research in microwave gas discharge for the Geophysical Directorate of Cambridge Research Center. In November 1951, Lax joined the Solid State Group at Lincoln Laboratory, where he became head of the Ferrites Group, in 1953, and the Solid State Group, in 1955. In 1957, he became Associate Head of the Communications Division at Lincoln, in charge of solid-state physics in several laboratory groups, and he was appointed Head of the Solid State Division when it was established, in 1958. He was appointed Director of the new M.I.T. National Magnet Laboratory, as of July 1960.
Lax received the 1960 Oliver E. Buckley Prize from the American Physical Society for his fundamental contributions to microwave and infrared spectroscopy of semiconductors. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the Executive Committee of the Solid-State Division for the American Physical Society. He was a member of Sigma Xi, the Advisory Panel for Solid-State Science of the AF Office of Scientific Research, and the National Bureau of Standards. In addition, he was Associate Editor of the "Journal of Applied Physics" form 1957 to 1959, and in 1962, he was Associate Editor of the "Physical Review" and the "Microwave Journal."