Historical Records of Australian Science Historical Records of Australian Science Society
The history of science, pure and applied, in Australia, New Zealand and the southwest Pacific

Arthur Melville Thompson 1917–2009

Barry D. Inglis

Historical Records of Australian Science 25(2) 306 - 312
Published: 11 November 2014


Arthur Melville (‘Mel') Thompson graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1938 with First Class Honours in Physics. After graduation he joined Australia's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as one of the ‘founding fathers' of the National Standards Laboratory and embarked on a life-time career in metrology. His work in precision electrical measurement, ratio-arms transformer bridges and techniques for defining and measuring small capacitances is internationally renowned. He conceived the design of a calculable-capacitor, the Thompson-Lampard capacitor, which led to a new theorem in electrostatics and provided the basis for an absolute determination of the unit of resistance with an increase in accuracy of an order of magnitude. Beyond the calculable capacitor his work had a major impact in electrical impedance measurement in general and on other fields of metrology such as dilatometry and thermometry. Mel Thompson was an inspirational leader and his work facilitated the development of many scientific careers.


© Australian Academy of Science 2014

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