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Robert A. Millikan

Robert A. MillikanAKA Robert Andrews Millikan

Born: 22-Mar-1868
Birthplace: Morrison, IL
Died: 19-Dec-1953
Location of death: San Marino, CA
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, CA

Gender: Male
Religion: Unitarian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Determined the charge of an electron

American physicist Robert A. Millikan studied in Europe under Walther Nernst and Max Planck, and first came to prominence with his elegant oil-drop experiments of 1909, in which he measured the electric charges on tiny falling water (and later oil) droplets. His study established that any particular droplet's electrical charge is a multiple of a definite, fundamental value — the electron's charge. Beginning in 1912, he spent several years investigating and finally proving Albert Einstein's proposed linear relationship between energy and frequency, and providing the first direct photoelectric support for Planck’s constant. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.

During World War I he served on the National Research Council (NRC), conducting emergency research into submarine detection. He was also a leading proponent of NRC fellowships, which have since provided grants to especially promising PhD graduates in scientific fields. In 1921 he relocated from the University of Chicago to the California Institute of Technology, where he served as professor and President and spent the remainder of his career studying cosmic rays (a term coined by Millikan).

Father: Silas Franklin Millikan (Congregationalist minister, b. 8-Sep-1834, d. 13-Apr-1915)
Mother: Mary Jane Andrews Millikan (Dean of Women at Olviet College, b. 3-May-1834, m. 1864, d. 20-Mar-1917)
Sister: Marjorie Avis Millikan Johnson (teacher, b. 2-May-1874, d. 5-Jul-1957)
Brother: Allan Fairchild Millikan (sales manager, b. 6-May-1866, d. 12-Oct-1942)
Brother: Max Franklin Millikan (attorney, b. 10-Mar-1870, d. 22-Nov-1940)
Sister: Mary Grace Millikan Behr (b. 26-Dec-1871, d. 22-Dec-1943)
Sister: Mabel Aurelia Millikan Brown (b. 20-Nov-1877, d. 1938)
Wife: Greta Ervin Blanchard (b. 16-Jul-1878, m. 10-Apr-1902, d. 10-Oct-1953, three sons)
Son: Clark Blanchard Millikan (aeronautical engineer, b. 23-Aug-1903, d. 1966)
Son: Glenn Allen Millikan (physiologist, b. 1906, d. May-1947)
Son: Max Franklin Millikan (CIA official, b. 12-Dec-1913, d. 14-Dec-1969)

    High School: Maquoketa Community High School, Maquoketa, IA (1886)
    University: BA Classics, Oberlin College (1891)
    Teacher: Physics, Oberlin College (1891-93)
    University: MS Physics, Oberlin College (1893)
    University: PhD Physics, Columbia University (1895)
    Scholar: Physics, University of Göttingen
    Scholar: Physics, University of Berlin
    Lecturer: Physics, University of Chicago (1896-1910)
    Professor: Physics, University of Chicago (1910-21)
    Administrator: Director, Ryerson Physical Laboratory, University of Chicago (1910-21)
    Professor: Physics, California Institute of Technology (1921-45)
    Administrator: Director, Norman Bridge Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (1921-45)
    Administrator: President, California Institute of Technology (1921-45)

    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    NAS Comstock Prize in Physics 1913
    National Academy of Sciences 1914
    National Research Council Vice Chairman, 1915-18
    American Physical Society President, 1916-18
    League of Nations Committee on Intellectual Cooperation
    Human Betterment Foundation
    IEEE Edison Medal 1922
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1923
    Hughes Medal 1923
    Matteucci Medal 1925
    ASME Medal 1926
    Oersted Medal 1940
    French Legion of Honor Commander
    Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society
    Heart Attack 19-Dec-1953 (fatal)
    Irish Ancestry
    Scottish Ancestry

Author of books:
College Course of Laboratory Experiments in General Physics (1898, textbook, with Samuel W. Stratton)
Mechanics, Molecular Physics, and Heat (1902, non-fiction)
A First Course in Physics (1906, textbook, with Henry G. Gale)
A Laboratory Course in Physics for Secondary Schools (1907, textbook, with Henry G. Gale)
Electricity, Sound, and Light (1908, non-fiction, with John Mills)
The Electron (1917, non-fiction)
Science and Life (1924, non-fiction)
Evolution in Science and Religion (1927, non-fiction)
Science and the New Civilization (1930, non-fiction)
Time, Matter, and Values (1932, non-fiction)
The Autobiography of Robert A. Millikan (1950, memoir)

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #1866 (37 cents, issued 26-Jan-1982)


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