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Making every drop count
11.08.2021 A. S. Ganesh
Physics
Robert Andrews Millikan

Robert Millikan’s oil-drop experiment to measure the charge of an electron is considered one of the most beautiful tests in the history of physics. Striving for more accuracy, it was on February 13, 1912, that he gathered data on the first of 58 drops –the results of which he published in August 1913. A.S.Ganesh gives more details on this...

If the elements constituting the periodic table are fundamental to chemistry, then the electron, a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge, is equally so to physics. While it was J. J. Thomson who discovered the electron in 1897 and measured its charge to mass ratio, it was Robert Andrews Millikan who is credited with determining the electron’s charge separately.

Millikan was born in 1868. He was the second son of Silas Franklin Millikan, a Congregational preacher, and Mary Jane Andrews. His childhood had little or no science in it as he enjoyed a rural existence in the American middle west - fishing, farming and fooling around.

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