Lewis Mott-Smith

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Lewis Morton Mott-Smith (1902-1985) was an American physicist. Mott-Smith married Francis Ward, who herself was a noted biologist, and sister of mathematician/chemist/geophysicist Ethel Ward-McLemore. Mott-Smith and Frances Ward Mott-Smith co-authored Advancements in the Use of the Gravimeter in Oil Exploration.

Mott-Smith was a professor of physics at Rice Institute in Houston, Texas. He is noted for a number of publications. In 1938 he was granted US Patent #2,130,648 for a torsion gravimiter that used an auxiliary quartz fiber as a stabilizing spring, permitting the instrument to maintain a constant temperature within one-thousandth degrees centigrade under normal field conditions.

Mott-Smith received a second patent #2,304,191 in 1942, which described a photoelectric indicating system for a gravimeter in which variations of intensity of the light source are eliminated by the use of a comparison light beam.

The Mott-Smith Corporation was formed in 1935. By 1938 there were some 18 Mott-Smith gravimeters in use. This example was probably made in the early 1940s. Robert M. Iverson donated one of these units to the Smithsonian in 1966. [1]


  1. Mott-Smith Gravimeter, Collection of the National Museum of American History [1]