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In Memoriam: Robert Andrews Millikan, 1868-1953
Robert Andrews Millikan, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1929, died in Pasadena, California, on December 19, 1953, at the age of 85. For many years, the most distinguished of American physicists, Millikan's career led him to great heights of achievement in teaching and in university administration, as well as in research.
His elementary textbooks for colleges and secondary schools, and his popular writings on science, were outstandingly successful. His leadership of the California Institute of Technology from its reorganization in 1921, to his retirement in 1945, set a standard seldom equaled. His genius as an investigator led him to illuminate brilliantly each of the many fields of experimental physics to which he turned. His name will always be associated, first in the minds of physicists, with his classical measurements of the charge on the electron, but his work on vacuum spectroscopy and on cosmic rays runs this a close second in importance.
Millikan was the scientist par excellence; and after his flowering at the University of Chicago, even his almost single-handed direction of the California Institute was not allowed to interfere with his duties as director of its Norman Bridge Laboratory of Physics, and with his work in the laboratory.
Millikan was born in Morrison, Illinois, on March 22, 1868. He was graduated from Oberlin and obtained the doctorate from Columbia in 1895. Later, 20 other institutions shared the distinction of making him Doctor Honoris Causa. His more than a dozen medals and prizes were crowned by the Nobel Laureateship in 1923. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in World War I, and directed the nation's scientific research efforts of that period.
Millikan married Miss Greta Blanchard in 1902, who predeceased him by only a few months, and they raised three sons to become college professors.
Be it now, therefore, resolved: That this Council inscribe in its minutes, and convey to the surviving members of Dr. Millikan's family, its profound sense of loss in the passing of this distinguished scientist and leader of scientists; and record its satisfaction in the brilliant example furnished by his career, of a life spent most successfully in the service of science and of society.
[Adopted by the AAAS Council, December 30, 1953.]