Did you know?

Lyle's radiograph of Lady Bassett’s hand; Thomas Ranken Lyle

Sir Thomas Ranken Lyle FRS (1860–1944) was a mathematical physicist credited with taking and publishing the first radiograph in Australia.

Born and educated in Ireland, Lyle took up the chair of natural philosophy at the University of Melbourne in 1889. Lyle was an expert glass-blower and accomplished photographer, skills that proved useful following Röntgen's discovery of a new form of radiation in late 1895; in March 1896, Lyle successfully evacuated a Crookes tube to produce X-rays.

The Academy's Basser Library and Fenner Archives holds one of Lyle’s earliest radiographs from 1897. It features the hand of Lady Flora Marjorie (Marnie) Bassett, daughter of Lyle's colleague Sir David Orme Masson.

Lyle was a foundation member of the Australian National Research Council (ANRC), forerunner to the Academy. In 1931, the ANRC created the Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal to recognise outstanding achievement for research in mathematics or physics. The Academy continues to present the Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal every two years.

More information

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science