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Millikan Oil Drop Experiment

The experimental charge of electron was found to be at around x 10 ^ -17. This resulted in a very large value of error because the accepted value of the charge of the electron is at 1. 6 ^ -19. Millikan was able to draw his conclusion on the size of the charge of electron that is to be 1. 6 ^-19 when in his repeated experiments, he was able to find that the results of his experiments are explained on multiples of 1. 6 ^ -19.

It must be that there is more number of electrons that contributes to the value he was obtaining so he looked at the multiples.

For this experiment, the obtained value for the multiple is at 1. 30 ^ -17. The large value of error can be explained by the instrument wear-off, inaccurate observation, incorrect incoming voltage for the plates, or worn-off plates.

Answers to Questions

1. If the apparatus would be set up in an unionizable gas, the result could be more consistent.

If we do this, there will be no changes on the gravitational and buoyant forces acting on the drop.

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None of the equations will be modified because in the assumption, there is neglect on the ionization in the air inside the apparatus. The ionization was not considered in the calculation of the charge.

2. We cannot perform the experiment on a vacuum because we need to apply electric field on the setup so we could measure the velocities and we need the force of gravity.

If the charge is in continuous form and infinitesimally divisible, then, the obtained values will be inconsistent with each other.

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We may obtain relatively large values or relatively low values that are inconsistent with the other obtained values. But, we will have a very large value for e.


I’ve realized that most of the constants we use in scientific calculations are not really exact but, actually, approximations, estimations and averages of the many trials performed.


Electricity has an atomic nature. It involves exchange of electrons and the atoms participate in conducting electricity. The result of this experiment is not precise with the accepted value for the charge of the electron obtained by Robert Millikan. However, the same procedure and similar setup was done as that of Millikan’s.


Rubin, Julian. 2007. The Oil Drop Experiment. Retrieved February 22, 2009 from http://www. juliantrubin. com/bigten/millikanoildrop. html.

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Millikan Oil Drop Experiment. (2016, Oct 11). Retrieved from

Millikan Oil Drop Experiment

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