Robert Andrews Millikan

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Robert A. Millikan (22 March 1868 – 19 December 1953) was an American experimental physicist, and Nobel laureate in physics for his measurement of the charge on the electron and for his work on the photoelectric effect. He served as president of Caltech from 1921 to 1945. He also served on the board of trustees for Science Service, now known as Society for Science & the Public, from 1921-1953.




Millikan went to high school in Maquoketa, Iowa. Millikan received a Bachelor's degree in the classics from Oberlin College in 1891 and his doctorate in physics from Columbia University in 1895 – he was the first to earn a Ph.D. from that department.

Millikan's enthusiasm for education continued throughout his career, and he was the coauthor of a popular and influential series of introductory textbooks,[1] which were ahead of their time in many ways. Compared to other books of the time, they treated the subject more in the way in which it was thought about by physicists. They also included many homework problems that asked conceptual questions, rather than simply requiring the student to plug numbers into a formula.

In 1902 he married Greta Ervin Blanchard. They had three sons - Clark Blanchard, Glenn Allen, and Max Franklin.

Charge of the electron

Starting in 1909, while a professor at the University of Chicago, Millikan worked on an oil-drop experiment in which they measured the charge on a single electron. Professor Millikan took sole credit, in return for Harvey Fletcher claiming full authorship on a related result for his dissertation.[2] Millikan went on to win the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physics, in part for this work, and Fletcher kept the agreement a secret until his death.[3] After a publication on his first results in 1910,[4] contradictory observations by Felix Ehrenhaft started a controversy between the two physicists.[5] After improving his setup he published his seminal study in 1913.[6]

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