Robert Millikan

Robert Millikan

Overview
Robert A. Millikan was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 experimental physicist
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, and Nobel laureate in physics for his measurement of the charge on the electron
Electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

 and for his work on the photoelectric effect
Photoelectric effect
In the photoelectric effect, electrons are emitted from matter as a consequence of their absorption of energy from electromagnetic radiation of very short wavelength, such as visible or ultraviolet light. Electrons emitted in this manner may be referred to as photoelectrons...

. 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
Society for Science & the Public
Society for Science & the Public , formerly known as Science Service, is a 5013 non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of science, through its science education programs and publications, including the weekly Science News magazine.Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization...

, from 1921-1953.

Millikan went to high school in Maquoketa, Iowa
Maquoketa, Iowa
Maquoketa is a city in Clinton and Jackson counties in the U.S. state of Iowa. Located on the Maquoketa River, it is the county seat of Jackson County....

. Millikan received a Bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in the classics
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 from Oberlin College
Oberlin College
Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, noteworthy for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students. Connected to the college is the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest continuously operating...

 in 1891 and his doctorate
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 from Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 in 1895 – he was the first to earn a Ph.D.
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Encyclopedia
Robert A. Millikan was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 experimental physicist
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, and Nobel laureate in physics for his measurement of the charge on the electron
Electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

 and for his work on the photoelectric effect
Photoelectric effect
In the photoelectric effect, electrons are emitted from matter as a consequence of their absorption of energy from electromagnetic radiation of very short wavelength, such as visible or ultraviolet light. Electrons emitted in this manner may be referred to as photoelectrons...

. 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
Society for Science & the Public
Society for Science & the Public , formerly known as Science Service, is a 5013 non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of science, through its science education programs and publications, including the weekly Science News magazine.Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization...

, from 1921-1953.

Education


Millikan went to high school in Maquoketa, Iowa
Maquoketa, Iowa
Maquoketa is a city in Clinton and Jackson counties in the U.S. state of Iowa. Located on the Maquoketa River, it is the county seat of Jackson County....

. Millikan received a Bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in the classics
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 from Oberlin College
Oberlin College
Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, noteworthy for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students. Connected to the college is the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest continuously operating...

 in 1891 and his doctorate
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 from Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 in 1895 – he was the first to earn a Ph.D. from that department.
"At the close of my sophomore year [...] my Greek professor [...] asked me to teach the course in elementary physics in the preparatory department during the next year. To my reply that I did not know any physics at all, his answer was, 'Anyone who can do well in my Greek can teach physics.' 'All right,' said I, 'you will have to take the consequences, but I will try and see what I can do with it.' I at once purchased an Avery’s Elements of Physics, and spent the greater part of my summer vacation of 1889 at home – trying to master the subject. [...] I doubt if I have ever taught better in my life than in my first course in physics in 1889. I was so intensely interested in keeping my knowledge ahead of that of the class that they may have caught some of my own interest and enthusiasm."


Millikan's enthusiasm for education continued throughout his career, and he was the coauthor of a popular and influential series of introductory textbooks, 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
Glenn Allan Millikan
Glenn Allan Millikan , American physiologist, invented the first practical, portable pulse oximeter in 1940–1942. The Millikan oximeter "is generally acknowledged as the beginning of oximetry in physiology and clinical medicine." The word oximeter was introduced by Millikan.Millikan, son of...

, and Max Franklin.

Charge of the electron


Starting in 1908, while a professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

, Millikan worked on an oil-drop experiment
Oil-drop experiment
The oil drop experiment was an experiment performed by Robert Millikan and Harvey Fletcher in 1909 to measure the elementary electric charge ....

 in which they measured the charge on a single electron
Electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

. J.J. Thomson had already discovered the charge-to-mass ratio of the electron. However, the actual charge and mass values were unknown. Therefore, if one of these two values were to be discovered, the other could easily be calculated. Millikan with help from then graduate student Harvey Fletcher ended up discovering the charge of the electron, which lent to the subsequent attainment of the electron's mass by manipulating electrical charges and magnetic fields.

Professor Millikan took sole credit, in return for Harvey Fletcher
Harvey Fletcher
Harvey Fletcher was an American physicist. Known as the "father of stereophonic sound" he is credited with the invention of the audiometer and hearing aid...

 claiming full authorship on a related result for his dissertation. 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. After a publication on his first results in 1910, contradictory observations by Felix Ehrenhaft
Felix Ehrenhaft
Felix Ehrenhaft was an Austrian physicist who contributed to atomic physics, to the measurement of electrical charges and to the optical properties of metal colloids. He was known for his maverick and controversial style...

 started a controversy between the two physicists. After improving his setup he published his seminal study in 1913.

The elementary charge
Elementary charge
The elementary charge, usually denoted as e, is the electric charge carried by a single proton, or equivalently, the absolute value of the electric charge carried by a single electron. This elementary charge is a fundamental physical constant. To avoid confusion over its sign, e is sometimes called...

 is one of the fundamental physical constants and accurate knowledge of its value is of great importance. His experiment measured the force on tiny charged droplets of oil suspended against gravity between two metal electrodes. Knowing the electric field, the charge on the droplet could be determined. Repeating the experiment for many droplets, Millikan showed that the results could be explained as integer
Integer
The integers are formed by the natural numbers together with the negatives of the non-zero natural numbers .They are known as Positive and Negative Integers respectively...

 multiples of a common value (1.592 × 10−19 coulomb), the charge on a single electron. That this is somewhat lower than the modern value
Elementary charge
The elementary charge, usually denoted as e, is the electric charge carried by a single proton, or equivalently, the absolute value of the electric charge carried by a single electron. This elementary charge is a fundamental physical constant. To avoid confusion over its sign, e is sometimes called...

 of 1.602 176 53(14) x 10−19 coulomb is probably due to Millikan's use of an inaccurate value for the viscosity
Viscosity
Viscosity is a measure of the resistance of a fluid which is being deformed by either shear or tensile stress. In everyday terms , viscosity is "thickness" or "internal friction". Thus, water is "thin", having a lower viscosity, while honey is "thick", having a higher viscosity...

 of air
Earth's atmosphere
The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention , and reducing temperature extremes between day and night...

.

Although at the time of Millikan's oil-drop experiments it was becoming clear that there exist such things as subatomic particles, not everyone was convinced. Experimenting with cathode ray
Cathode ray
Cathode rays are streams of electrons observed in vacuum tubes. If an evacuated glass tube is equipped with two electrodes and a voltage is applied, the glass opposite of the negative electrode is observed to glow, due to electrons emitted from and travelling perpendicular to the cathode Cathode...

s in 1897, J.J. Thomson had discovered negatively charged 'corpuscles', as he called them, with a charge to mass ratio 1840 times that of a hydrogen ion. Similar results had been found by George FitzGerald
George FitzGerald
George Francis FitzGerald was an Irish professor of "natural and experimental philosophy" at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, during the last quarter of the 19th century....

 and Walter Kaufmann
Walter Kaufmann (physicist)
Walter Kaufmann was a German physicist. He is most well known for his first experimental proof of the velocity dependence of mass, which was an important contribution to the development of modern physics, including special relativity.-Life:In 1890/91 he studied mechanical engineering at the...

. Most of what was then known about electricity and magnetism, however, could be explained on the basis that charge is a continuous variable; in much the same way that many of the properties of light can be explained by treating it as a continuous wave rather than as a stream of photons.

The beauty of the oil-drop experiment is that as well as allowing quite accurate determination of the fundamental unit of charge, Millikan's apparatus also provided a 'hands on' demonstration that charge is actually quantized. The General Electric Company's Charles Steinmetz, who had previously thought that charge is a continuous variable, became convinced otherwise after working with Millikan's apparatus.

Data selection controversy


There is some controversy over selectivity in Millikan's use of results from his second experiment measuring the electron charge. This has been discussed by Allan Franklin, a former high-energy experimentalist and current philosopher of science at the University of Colorado
University of Colorado at Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder is a public research university located in Boulder, Colorado...

. Franklin contends that Millikan's exclusions of data do not affect the final value of the charge obtained, but that Millikan's substantial "cosmetic surgery" reduced the statistical error. This enabled Millikan to give the charge of the electron to better than one half of one percent; in fact, if Millikan had included all of the data he discarded, the error would have been within 2%. While this would still have resulted in Millikan's having measured the charge of e better than anyone else at the time, the slightly larger uncertainty might have allowed more disagreement with his results within the physics community, which Millikan likely tried to avoid. David Goodstein
David Goodstein
David L. Goodstein is a U.S. physicist and educator. From 1988 to 2007 he served as Vice-provost of the California Institute of Technology , where he is also a professor of physics and applied physics, as well as the Frank J...

 argues that Millikan's statement, that all drops observed over a sixty-day period were used in the paper, was clarified in a subsequent sentence which specified all "drops upon which complete series of observations were made". Goodstein attests that this is indeed the case and notes that five pages of tables separate the two sentences.

Photoelectric effect


When Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 published his seminal 1905 paper on the particle theory of light, Millikan was convinced that it had to be wrong, because of the vast body of evidence that had already shown that light was a wave
Wave
In physics, a wave is a disturbance that travels through space and time, accompanied by the transfer of energy.Waves travel and the wave motion transfers energy from one point to another, often with no permanent displacement of the particles of the medium—that is, with little or no associated mass...

. He undertook a decade-long experimental program to test Einstein's theory, which required building what he described as "a machine shop in vacuo" in order to prepare the very clean metal surface of the photo electrode. His results confirmed Einstein's predictions in every detail, but Millikan was not convinced of Einstein's interpretation, and as late as 1916 he wrote, "Einstein's photoelectric equation... cannot in my judgment be looked upon at present as resting upon any sort of a satisfactory theoretical foundation," even though "it actually represents very accurately the behavior" of the photoelectric effect. In his 1950 autobiography, however, he simply declared that his work "scarcely permits of any other interpretation than that which Einstein had originally suggested, namely that of the semi-corpuscular or photon theory of light itself".

Since Millikan's work formed some of the basis for modern particle physics, it is ironic that he was rather conservative in his opinions about 20th century developments in physics, as in the case of the photon theory. Another example is that his textbook, as late as the 1927 version, unambiguously states the existence of the ether, and mentions Einstein's theory of relativity only in a noncommittal note at the end of the caption under Einstein's portrait, stating as the last in a list of accomplishments that he was "author of the special theory of relativity in 1905 and of the general theory of relativity in 1914, both of which have had great success in explaining otherwise unexplained phenomena and in predicting new ones."
He is also credited with measuring the value of Planck's constant
Planck constant
The Planck constant , also called Planck's constant, is a physical constant reflecting the sizes of energy quanta in quantum mechanics. It is named after Max Planck, one of the founders of quantum theory, who discovered it in 1899...

 by using photoelectric emission graphs of various metals.

Later life


In 1917, solar astronomer George Ellery Hale
George Ellery Hale
George Ellery Hale was an American solar astronomer.-Biography:Hale was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was educated at MIT, at the Observatory of Harvard College, , and at Berlin . As an undergraduate at MIT, he is known for inventing the spectroheliograph, with which he made his discovery of...

 convinced Millikan to begin spending several months each year at the Throop College of Technology, a small academic institution in Pasadena, California
Pasadena, California
Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena is the home to many scientific and cultural institutions, including the California Institute of Technology , the Jet...

 that Hale wished to transform into a major center for scientific research and education. A few years later Throop College became the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

 (Caltech), and Millikan left the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 in order to become Caltech's "chairman of the executive council" (effectively its president). Millikan would serve in that position from 1921 to 1945. At Caltech most of his scientific research focused on the study of "cosmic rays" (a term which he coined). In the 1930s he entered into a debate with Arthur Compton
Arthur Compton
Arthur Holly Compton was an American physicist and Nobel laureate in physics for his discovery of the Compton effect. He served as Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis from 1945 to 1953.-Early years:...

 over whether cosmic rays were composed of high-energy photons (Millikan's view) or charged particles (Compton's view). Millikan thought his cosmic ray photons were the "birth cries
Birth cries of atoms
Robert Millikan pursued the theory of birth cries of atoms for many years, to explain the origin of cosmic rays. According to the 'birth cry' theory, cosmic rays were photons created by the generation of new atoms, and , the destruction of atoms as well...

" of new atoms continually being created by God to counteract entropy
Entropy
Entropy is a thermodynamic property that can be used to determine the energy available for useful work in a thermodynamic process, such as in energy conversion devices, engines, or machines. Such devices can only be driven by convertible energy, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency when...

 and prevent the heat death of the universe
Heat death of the universe
The heat death of the universe is a suggested ultimate fate of the universe, in which the universe has diminished to a state of no thermodynamic free energy and therefore can no longer sustain motion or life. Heat death does not imply any particular absolute temperature; it only requires that...

. Compton would eventually be proven right by the observation that cosmic rays are deflected by the Earth's magnetic field
Magnetism
Magnetism is a property of materials that respond at an atomic or subatomic level to an applied magnetic field. Ferromagnetism is the strongest and most familiar type of magnetism. It is responsible for the behavior of permanent magnets, which produce their own persistent magnetic fields, as well...

 (and so must be charged particles).

Robert Millikan was Vice Chairman of the National Research Council during World War I. During that time, he helped to develop anti-submarine and meteorological devices. He received the Chinese Order of Jade. In his private life, Millikan was an enthusiastic tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 player. He was married and had three sons, the eldest of whom, Clark B. Millikan, became a prominent aerodynamic
Aerodynamics
Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics concerned with studying the motion of air, particularly when it interacts with a moving object. Aerodynamics is a subfield of fluid dynamics and gas dynamics, with much theory shared between them. Aerodynamics is often used synonymously with gas dynamics, with...

 engineer. Another son, Glenn
Glenn Allan Millikan
Glenn Allan Millikan , American physiologist, invented the first practical, portable pulse oximeter in 1940–1942. The Millikan oximeter "is generally acknowledged as the beginning of oximetry in physiology and clinical medicine." The word oximeter was introduced by Millikan.Millikan, son of...

, also a physicist, married the daughter (Clare) of George Leigh Mallory
George Mallory
George Herbert Leigh Mallory was an English mountaineer who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest in the early 1920s....

 of "Because it's there" Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...

 fame. Glenn was killed in a climbing accident in Cumberland Mountains
Cumberland Mountains
The Cumberland Mountains are a mountain range in the southeastern section of the Appalachian Mountains. They are located in southern West Virginia, western Virginia, eastern edges of Kentucky, and eastern middle Tennessee, including the Crab Orchard Mountains...

 in 1947.

In his later life he became interested in the relationship between Christian faith and science, being religious himself,
and his own father having been a minister. He dealt with this in his Terry Lectures at Yale
YALE
RapidMiner, formerly YALE , is an environment for machine learning, data mining, text mining, predictive analytics, and business analytics. It is used for research, education, training, rapid prototyping, application development, and industrial applications...

 in 1926–7, published as Evolution in Science and Religion. A more controversial belief of his was eugenics. This led to his association with the Human Betterment Foundation
Human Betterment Foundation
The Human Betterment Foundation was an American eugenics organization established in Pasadena, California in 1928 by E.S. Gosney with the aim "to foster and aid constructive and educational forces for the protection and betterment of the human family in body, mind, character, and citizenship"...

 and his praising of San Marino, California
San Marino, California
San Marino is a small, affluent city in Los Angeles County, California. Incorporated in 1913, the City founders designed the community to be uniquely residential, with expansive properties surrounded by beautiful gardens, wide streets, and well maintained parkways...

 for being "the westernmost outpost of Nordic civilization . . . [with] a population which is twice as Anglo-Saxon as that existing in New York, Chicago or any of the great cities of this country."

Westinghouse time capsule


In 1938, he wrote a short passage to be placed in the Westinghouse Time Capsules
Westinghouse Time Capsules
The Westinghouse Time Capsules are two time capsules prepared by the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company: "Time Capsule I", created for the 1939 New York World's Fair; and "Time Capsule II", created for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Both are buried 50 feet below Flushing Meadows Park,...

.


At this moment, 22 August 1938, the principles of representative ballot government, such as are represented by the governments of the Anglo-Saxon, French, and Scandinavian countries, are in deadly conflict with the principles of despotism, which up to two centuries ago had controlled the destiny of man throughout practically the whole of recorded history. If the rational, scientific,
progressive principles win out in this struggle there is a possibility of a warless, golden age ahead for mankind. If the reactionary principles of despotism triumph now and in the future, the future history of mankind will repeat the sad story of war and oppression as in the past.

Death and legacy


Millikan died of a heart attack at his home in San Marino, California in 1953 at age 85, and was interred in the "Court of Honor" at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California
Glendale, California
Glendale is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. As of the 2010 Census, the city population is 191,719, down from 194,973 at the 2000 census. making it the third largest city in Los Angeles County and the 22nd largest city in the state of California...

.

Millikan Middle School (formerly Millikan Junior High School) in the suburban Los Angeles neighborhood of Sherman Oaks is named in his honor, as is Robert A. Millikan High School in Long Beach, California. The Millikan Library, the tallest building on the Caltech campus is also named for him. Additionally, a major street through the Tektronix
Tektronix
Tektronix, Inc. is an American company best known for its test and measurement equipment such as oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, and video and mobile test protocol equipment. In November 2007, Tektronix became a subsidiary of Danaher Corporation....

 campus in Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

, is named after him, with the Millikan Way (MAX station)
Millikan Way (MAX station)
The Millikan Way station is a light rail station on the MAX Blue Line in Washington County, Oregon. It is the 8th stop westbound on the Westside MAX....

, a station on Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

's MAX Blue Line
MAX Blue Line
The MAX Blue Line is a 33 mile light rail line in the MAX Light Rail system in the Portland metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Oregon. Operated by TriMet, the line runs between Hillsboro and Gresham, via downtown Portland...

 named after the street. One of four suites at the Athenaeum Hotel on the Caltech campus is named after him; Room #50, The Millikan Suite.

On January 26, 1982, he was honored by the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 with a 37¢ Great Americans series
Great Americans series
The Great Americans series is a set of definitive stamps issued by the United States Postal Service, starting on December 27, 1980 with the 19¢ stamp depicting Sequoyah, and continuing through 2002, the final stamp being the 78¢ Alice Paul self-adhesive stamp. The series, noted for its simplicity...

 (1980–2000) postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

.

Famous statements


"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. The glib supposition of utilizing atomic energy when our coal has run out is a completely unscientific Utopian dream, a childish bug-a-boo. Nature has introduced a few fool-proof devices into the great majority of elements that constitute the bulk of the world, and they have no energy to give up in the process of disintegration." - 1928 at the Chemists' Club (New York)

See also



  • Nobel Prize controversies
    Nobel Prize controversies
    Subsequent to his death in 1896, the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel established the Nobel Prizes. Annual prizes were to be awarded for service to humanity in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. Similarly, the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic...

Robert Millikan is widely believed to have been denied the 1920 prize for physics owing to Felix Ehrenhaft's claims to have measured charges smaller than Millikan's elementary charge. Ehrenhaft's claims were ultimately dismissed and Millikan was awarded the prize in 1923.
  • Millikan's passage announcing emerging branch of physics
    Physics
    Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

     under the designation of quantum theory
    Quantum mechanics
    Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

    , published in Popular Science
    Popular Science
    Popular Science is an American monthly magazine founded in 1872 carrying articles for the general reader on science and technology subjects. Popular Science has won over 58 awards, including the ASME awards for its journalistic excellence in both 2003 and 2004...

     January 1927.

Other sources

  • Waller, John, "Einstein's Luck: The Truth Behind Some of the Greatest Scientific Discoveries". Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-19-860719-9
  • Physics paper On the Elementary Electrical Charge and the Avogadro Constant (extract) http://www.aip.org/history/gap/

External links