An introduction to experimental physics by Colin Cooke

By Colin Cooke

Knowing, designing and accomplishing experiments is on the middle of technological know-how. this article introduces the elemental rules on which physicists should still construct a radical experimental method of their discipline.

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knowing, designing and accomplishing experiments is on the center of technological know-how. this article introduces the basic ideas on which physicists should still construct an intensive experimental technique to Read more...

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However it is likely to deepen our understanding of the application of physical principles to practical situations. 2. What was known about the subject? Initially, knowledge of the subject was limited to an observation best described in Mpemba’s own words: In 1963, when I was in form 3 in Magamba Secondary School, Tanzania, I used to make ice-cream. The boys at the school do this by boiling milk, mixing it with sugar and putting it into the freezing chamber in the refrigerator, after it has first cooled nearly to room temperature.

Realizing the fundamental importance of his measurement of the basic charge, e, Millikan was determined to do even better. The apparatus was thus redesigned. The factors discussed below are meant to show how much fine detail has to be considered in a careful experiment. In 1914 a new electrode system was built with the surfaces optically flat to within 2 wavelengths of sodium light. 9174 mm thick, with optically plane-parallel surfaces. The potential difference was compared with that from a Weston standard cell, and times were recorded with a chronograph that printed to an accuracy of 1/100th of a second.

Real equipment is more complex, and which of its characteristics are most important will depend on the particular circumstances, so the following list is simply alphabetical: (a) accuracy; (b) complexity; (c) cost; (d) ease of use; (e) longevity; (f) output; (g) range; (h) reliability; (i) sensitivity. Accuracy This is a mixture of two concepts: precision and calibration. Equipment is precise if it gives the same output for a given input over the required period of time. In other words it gives reproducible results.

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