What error could occur if only a few oil drops were used, or if all the oil drops contained an even number of charges?

  • $\begingroup$ -1 What do you think? We expect you to show the results of your own thinking, and to explain what difficulty you are having with the question. $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Dec 21 '17 at 2:35

If all the drops contained an even number of electrons (e.g. 2,6,22, and 100), you might look at the charges you measured and determine that the fundamental unit of charge was $2e$ (rather than $e$ which would be the correct answer).

If you only did a few drops, you might have bad luck and get ones that are all divisible by numbers larger than $e$. (maybe you got charges of roughly $7e$, $49e$, and $98e$, all of which are divisible by $7e$).

  • $\begingroup$ I did the experiment back in 1966, and can only vaguely recall how it went. But I don't think I got charges larger than maybe 5e, and got several of 1e (out of maybe 10 total runs). $\endgroup$ – Hot Licks Dec 21 '17 at 1:26
  • $\begingroup$ I just did it a couple days ago for a class I'm preparing to teach for, and seeing drops up to $~25e$ was not uncommon. Depends on the oil used and the sprayer. (I may have been exaggerating with 98 though!) $\endgroup$ – Bunji Dec 21 '17 at 5:14

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