By Colin Cooke
Figuring out, designing and undertaking experiments is on the center of technology. this article introduces the elemental ideas on which physicists may still construct an intensive experimental method of their discipline.
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Extra info for An introduction to experimental physics
1— measuring the density of paper Assume you start with a single sheet of A4 paper, 30 cm rule, micrometer screw gauge, and top pan balance. Using the good practice discussed earlier we decide to perform a preliminary experiment. As a rough estimate of the random error in the various measurements let us assume a value of 1 in the last figure quoted in each case. Of course we can get a “proper” value by repeating measurements and calculating the standard error on the mean, but we only need a rough guide at the moment in order that we can calculate the relative contributions to the error on the density.
Software has been around for less time, and perhaps its very flexibility makes the effective lifetime short, since it is subjected to updated versions arising from the need to remove bugs and provide facilities not thought of at the time of creation. It has also got to submit to changes in the hardware used in the computers on which it runs. Output In the bad/good old days of physics the output from many instruments took the form of a pointer, mechanical or optical, moving over a scale. A better class of instrument would incorporate a mirror behind the pointer so that parallax could be avoided by aligning the pointer and its image before reading its position on the scale.
Millikan, and after a short introduction the steps in experimental design will be applied to his work. 38 DESIGN OF EXPERIMENTS Briefly, the experiment consists of spraying very small droplets of oil between the plates of a parallel plate capacitor and selecting a drop which has collected a charge by friction. The balance of the gravitational pull downwards and the viscous drag upwards results in a steady speed of fall, vd. Before reaching the bottom plate an electric field is applied in a direction such as to move the drop at a constant speed, vu, upwards.