Millikan oil drop experiment ready to be installed
Xplora has got a grant from the Agilent foundation in order to develop, together with the University of Kaiserslautern, the Millikan oil drop experiment. This development should enable physics teachers and students to easily run the experiment and to insert their results into a database to follow the argumentation of Millikan.
The objective of Millikan's oil-drop experiment (1909) was to measure the electric charge of the electron. He did this by carefully balancing the gravitational and electric forces on tiny charged droplets of oil suspended between two metal electrodes. Knowing the electric field, the charge on the droplet could be determined.
In 1923, Robert Millikan won the Nobel Prize for physics mostly for this experiment.
The Millikan oil drop experiment is one of those strange experiments in physics, which is extremely important in order to understand the concept of the elementary charge, but rather expensive and difficult to run properly.
This experiment has since been repeated by generations of physics students, although it has not allowed students to follow exactly Millikan’s reasoning, because this would have required hundreds or thousands of results, instead of the single one the student got.
The new development proposed by Xplora can be achieved by designing the Millikan experiment as a web experiment, connected with a database of results, which allows the student to access the results of all previous users. This way, the necessary mass of results will be available to everyone, allowing the original reasoning and verifying the results of the historical experiment.
Xplora is now looking for interested schools, science museums and teacher training institutes who volunteer to host the experiment and therefore enable schools around the world to access it.
If your school, science museum or teacher training institute is interested in getting the experiment and taking the RELATED responsibility, please contact Karl Sarnow for more details.