Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 16-19
Millikan’s experiment did not lead to the rapid acceptance of Einstein’s ideas. His light quantum model was widely treated with suspicion until Arthur Compton’s explanation of the effect in 1925. Curiously, Compton’s paper, which encouraged the acceptance of Einstein’s hypothesis, does not cite Einstein’s now famous 1905 article: On a heuristic point of view concerning the production and transformation of light.
Compton himself was far from infallible. He concluded from some experimental data that the electron had a diameter of 1 × 10 -11m which was ten million times larger than the accepted value. The mistake led Rutherford to give him this less than flattering introduction before a lecture in Cambridge: “This is Dr Compton who is here to talk to us about the size of the electron. Please listen to him attentively, but you don’t have to believe him.” A member of the audience reported that, at one point, Rutherford burst out: “I will not have an electron as big as a balloon in my laboratory.”