An introduction to experimental physics by Colin Cooke

By Colin Cooke

Figuring out, designing and undertaking experiments is on the center of technology. this article introduces the basic rules on which physicists should still construct an intensive experimental method of their discipline.


figuring out, designing and undertaking experiments is on the middle of technology. this article introduces the basic ideas on which physicists may still construct a radical experimental method to Read more...

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4. Design the experiment Three elements of the design are worth special mention. 05 cm s−1, made it particularly important to reduce convection currents to a minimum. 02°C during a measurement. 40 DESIGN OF EXPERIMENTS (b) The drops of oil had to be dry and free from dust if they were to be consistently affected by the gravitational and electrical fields applied to them. (c) Measurements were made on drops with various radii and number of fundamental charges held. Thus, any possible variation of density or drag with radius of the drop could be investigated.

National security or commercial profit may be used as an argument for limiting the communication of scientific information, and your education in science might consider such topics. At a conference I attended some years ago a scientist was happy to listen to work performed in university laboratories but was unwilling to discuss his own work, which he considered to be commercially sensitive. He was not very popular. Good use of time in experiments There are occasions when you are short of time to conduct an experiment as thoroughly as you would wish.

But it is silly to spend a lot of time and effort reducing the random error only for it to be swamped by a larger systematic error. The way to search for systematic errors is to perform more measurements, preferably using a different approach. Unfortunately, the alternative technique for measuring density, Archimedes’ method, requires a liquid that does not wet paper. Even if you do not use a different method it makes sense to ask other people to repeat the measurements in case your handling of the equipment has introduced a systematic effect.

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