Nobel laureate Robert Millikan was one of the most eminent physicists of the 20th century. He was also openly a Christian and, although a physicist, expressed in his writings major reservations about not only orthodox Darwinism but also the whole problem of dogmatism in science. His thinking on the shortcomings and limitations of science are especially insightful.
Robert Andrews Millikan (1868–1953) was the 1923 Nobel laureate in physics, and one of the foremost American physicists of the last century.1,2 His “record as a researcher and teacher was second to none.”3 He was awarded a total of 25 honorary doctorates and many prestigious medals ranging from the Hughes Medal to the Faraday Medal.4
Reared in a large loving family, and the son of a Congregational minister, Millikan grew up to become the president of California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California (Caltech). His role in establishing Caltech as a leading scientific research school was so important that it was called “Millikan’s School” for years.5His scientific achievements are such that he has “long been considered the ‘dean’ of American scientists.”6
Robert Millikan graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio and earned a Ph.D. in physics from Columbia University in 1895. He also studied in Germany under Max Planck. Millikan was a professor at the University of Chicago from 1896 until 1921, when he moved to Caltech where he remained until he retired. He also published widely, including several leading science textbooks.7 The first American-born physicist to become a Nobel laureate, Millikan also became a leader in the application of scientific research to industry, especially military industries.8
Most famous for his oil drop experiments, in which he determined the electrical charge of the electron, he was also involved in many of the major developments in radio and in various practical areas of electronic technology. His research on the electron was a critical factor in opening up the door to the electronics revolution.
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