Problem: In the Millikan oil-drop experiment (see the figure) the tiny oil drops are observed through the viewing lens as rising, stationary, or falling, as shown here.Why do some drops move upward?

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Establish the Millikan's Oil experiment and explain why some of the oil droplets move upward

Recall that in the Millikan's Oil Experiment, they suspended tiny charged droplets of oil between two metal electrodes by balancing downward gravitational force with upward drag and electric forces.

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Problem Details

In the Millikan oil-drop experiment (see the figure) the tiny oil drops are observed through the viewing lens as rising, stationary, or falling, as shown here.
A diagram showing a field of 5 dots. Two small dots and one large dot move up, while one small and one large dot move down.

Why do some drops move upward?

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What scientific concept do you need to know in order to solve this problem?

Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Oil Drop Experiment concept. You can view video lessons to learn Oil Drop Experiment. Or if you need more Oil Drop Experiment practice, you can also practice Oil Drop Experiment practice problems.

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Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Tang's class at USF.