2012 BFY Abstract Detail Page
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||W65 - The Millikan Oil Drop Experiment
||The Millikan oil-drop experiment is one of the most elegant and important experiments in the history of physics. The essence of the experiment is to observe the motion of an oil drop under the combined influence of an adjustable electric and gravitational field. The observation of the trajectory of the drop then permits a calculation of the net force on the sphere, and therefore, the net charge it carries. The oil droplet is traditionally tracked by watching it through a microscope. The students find this step the most tedious part of the experiment that also detracts them from the elegance and importance of the experiment. We have replaced the 'manual' tracking by employing video capture using a microscope coupled to a CCD camera. After the frame capture, the droplets can be selected and their trajectories analyzed.