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Experiment 1: Errors, Uncertainties and Measurements

Laboratory Report
Kamylle Consebido, Hazel Dacuycuy, Jose Gerardo Del Rosario, Ira Gabrielli Delos Reyes,
Ancilla Diamante
Department of Occupational Therapy
College of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Santo Tomas
Espaa, Manila Philippines
Abstract
This experiment aims to study and
determine the kinds of errors and how they
turn up in an experiment with the use of
certain instruments such as a foot rule, a
Vernier and micrometer caliper. With the
diameter of a sphere as the experimental
value, the mean of the diameter as well as
the average deviation of the mean were
obtained, as well as the density of the sphere
was also determined given its mass and
dimensions. The results of the experiment
showed that the accuracy of the measuring
devices is affected by their least count,
emphasizing that the utilization of the
micrometer caliper gave the least %error
among the three measuring devices.
1. Introduction
Physics is defined to be a branch of science
which deals with matter and energy. Over
time, this particular science has produced
many discoveries, equations and theories
explaining the phenomena around us. These
would not be possible if it werent for
recorded measurements.

In order to measure something, it must


be compared to a standard length, mass or
time. Two systems are currently used to
measure matter namely, the International
System of Units (SI System) and the English
System. However, errors, both random and

systematic, may occur, deviating the


recorded measure.

This experiment will aim to focus on various


aspects of measurement such as to analyze
errors and how they propagate in a simple
experiment, to determine the average
deviation and mean of the recorded
measurements, to familiarize the students
with various measuring devices, and to
compare the accuracy of these measuring
devices.
2. Theory
Knowing that errors may occur
randomly, meaning that its source cannot be
found and occurs by the repetition of
measures that is done, a person may measure
a certain object with the same tools of
measurement differently depending on how
they perceive it. In this case, how one
measures the diameter, volume, density and
mass of an iron sphere may differ from
person to person.
From each measurement, the least
count for each tool is distinct and varies
from one another. Based from each result
gathered from one measurement of a tool, be
it foot rule, Vernier caliper, or micrometer
caliper, each one proves the element of
randomness is present since the tool and
object itself is constant and unchanged,
rather each margin of error is subjective to
the person's perspective.

To look into this at a closer


perspective, the following formulas are
used:
a. Mean Diameter - the sum of measured
data on each trial divided by the total
number of observation.
d
b. Average Deviation (a.d.):
n
c. Average Deviation of the Mean (A.D.):
a .d .
n
A. D.
mean

d. %Error of Diameter:
e. Volume of Sphere: V =

4 3
r
3

f. Experimental Value of Density:


mass
volume
g. %Error for Density:

E A
x 100
A

3. Methodology
Materials used: Vernier caliper, micrometer
caliper, foot rule, gram balance, sphere of
known composition
To determine the diameter of the
sphere, each of the three measuring devices
were used for ten consecutive times. The
sphere was first measured using the plastic
foot rule. Secondly, the spheres diameter
was measured using the Vernier caliper. The
sphere was placed in between the jaws of the
Vernier caliper and with the use of the screw
lamp, the spheres position was fixed.
Lastly, the micrometer caliper was used to
measure the diameter of the sphere. Placed
between the anvil and spindle, it was
secured in place by rotating the thimble. All
results of the three measuring devices were
recorded on the data sheet. After that,

various data were gathered using the


formulas prescribed in the theory section.
This included the mean diameter, average
deviation, average deviation of the mean,
and the %error of the diameter.
To determine the mass of the sphere,
the gram balance was used. Then, the
volume of the sphere was calculated.
Furthermore, the experimental value of
density was obtained and was then
compared with the accepted value of
density. Both of the values mentioned above
were used to get the %error of density.
For the last activity, each member of
the group measured the width of their
thumbs using a foot rule.
Experimental Setup:

4. Results and Discussion


Table 1 includes the different values
obtained regarding the diameter of the
sphere using three different measuring
devices, such as the foot rule, Vernier caliper
and the micrometer caliper. Ten trials were
done with each of the measuring devices.
Meanwhile, Table 2 includes the data
derived from the previous measurements
listen in Table 1 (above). Certain formulas
were needed to achieve the data shown in
Table 2. Lastly, Table 3 shows every
measurement of the group members thumbs
in inches.
Table 1. Diameter of the Sphere (in
centimeters) according to Three Different
Measuring Devices

Table 2 Various Data Derived From the


Previous Measurements

Table 3 Measurements of the Width of Each


Group Members Thumb (in inches)

The diameter of a sphere varies


depending on which measuring device is
used. 10 trials were done in order to see if
the values obtained were accurate and/or
precise. The least accurate measurements of
the sphere were obtained using the foot rule
while the most accurate measurements were
obtained using the micrometer caliper. It is
understandable that a sphere would not be
measured accurately and a less accurate
value would be obtained using a foot rule.
By just merely holding the sphere and
placing it in front of the ruler, the
experimenters may have viewed the results
differently than the others, which likely
results to various interpretations of the
measurements of the spheres diameter. A
Vernier caliper measures more accurately
than a foot rule because a Vernier caliper
could hold the sphere in place for
measuring. However, a micrometer caliper
could
obtain
the
most
accurate
measurement, among the three. Its parts are
appropriate and could tightly hold a sphere
in place to make the measurement more
convenient.
It is apparent that the data obtained
using the foot rule and micrometer caliper
were precise with each other. However, the

data showed that the mean diameter of the


sphere using the Vernier caliper is larger
than using the foot rule and the micrometer
caliper. In addition to that, the average
deviation, average deviations of the mean
and volume measurements using the Vernier
caliper were also larger than the
measurements obtained using the other
measuring devices. The % error of diameter
using the Vernier caliper was 0.5, which
makes it larger than the % error of both
measurements using the foot rule and
micrometer caliper. This error can be
attributed to the fact that the sphere was not
hold tightly in place, leading to a space left
between the sphere and the external jaws of
the caliper.
The mass was consistent in all three
measurement devices since an electronic
gram balance was used. After calculating the
volume of the sphere, the experimental
value of density was obtained and the
closest to the accepted value was the value
obtained using the micrometer caliper. The
value obtained using the foot rule was the
farthest from the accepted value. This may
be due to the fact that a foot rule is not the
most appropriate measuring device to
measure a sphere, since a foot rule can only
measure objects with edges most accurately.
The % error for density using the foot rule is
15.6 which are the largest among all three
values obtained. Nonetheless, the % error
for density is the smallest using the
micrometer caliper. The % error is less than
1% because the experimental value is 7.915
g/cm which is very close to the accepted
value of 7.874 g/cm.
The width of thumb varies for every
person. Some say gender could affect the
size of our body parts. A foot rule was used
to measure the width of the thumbs of every
member. There are 11 divisions in one inch
of a ruler. The number of divisions were
counted and divided by 16 to get the
measurement. The measurements obtained

were 0.7, 0.8 and 0.9. Three values of 0.8


were obtained.
Since %errors were evident in the
experiment, there are techniques to be
followed in order to minimize the presence
of errors. When using a ruler, position eyes
directly above the markings in order to
avoid parallax errors. Systematic errors can
be eliminated by careful planning and
performance of the experiment. Measuring
instruments should be used correctly and
under the appropriate conditions, and they
should be checked for zero error.
5. Conclusion
In accordance to the data gathered
during the activity, errors were observed
after using the three measuring devices
required for the experiment. The micrometer
caliper gave the smallest values of %error
which lead to the conclusion that this
instrument gave the most accurate
measurement among the other remaining
instruments. However, the foot rule was the
least accurate measuring device since it gave
the largest values of %error. The accuracy
and precision of an instrument can be
attributed to its least count. Since the
micrometer caliper has the smallest least
count of 0.01 mm among the other
instruments, thus it can be said that it has the
most accuracy and precision compared to
the other devices, with the Vernier caliper
having 0.05 mm and the foot rule with 1
mm. On the other hand, the width of a
thumb cannot be used as a standard of
measurement since it varies from person to
person.
6. Applications
1. Which among the three measuring
devices give you the least % error? Is the
accuracy of a measurement affected by the
least count of the measuring device?

The micrometer caliper gave the


least % error. This shows that the least count
of the measuring device affects the accuracy
of the measurement. The micrometer caliper
has a least count of 0.01 mm, which is the
smallest least count among the other
instrument.
2. What do you mean by error? What
are the types of errors? What are the errors
you encountered in this experiment?
An error or a mistake is a deviation
from accuracy or correctness. It is also the
difference between the observed or
approximately determined value and the true
value of a quantity. A personal error comes
to play because of faulty procedure adopted
on by the observer. Personal error comes
into existence due to making an error in
reading a scale. Meanwhile, a systematic
error is a type of error that arises due to a
defect in the measuring device, and a
random error is an error produced due to
sudden change in experimental conditions. It
is an accidental error and is beyond the
control of the person making the
measurement. Some errors were observed
in the experiment such as parallax errors,
wherein some of the experimenters viewed
the scale of a measuring instrument at an
angle rather than from directly in front of it.
A systematic error was also encountered
when the Vernier caliper was put into use
even though its jaws did not tightly hold the
sphere into place.
3. Sketch a.) a Vernier caliper that
reads 5.08 cm. b.) a micrometer that reads
2.5 mm.

4. A student weighs himself on a


bathroom scale calibrated in kilograms. He
reported his weight in pounds. What is the
percentage error in his reported weight if he
use this conversion: 1kg = 2.2 pounds? The
standard kilogram is equal to 2.2046 pounds.
Percentage Error:
I .ValueExact Value I
x 100
Exact Value
I 2.22.2046 I
x 100
2.2046
Answer: The percentage error is 0.21 %
5. In an experiment on determination
of mass of a sample, your group consisting
of 5 students obtained the following results:
14.34g, 14.32g, 14.33g, 14.30g, and 14.23 g.
Find the mean, a.d. and A.D. Suppose that
your group is required to make only four
determinations for the mass of the sample. If
you are the leader of the group, which data
will you omit? Recalculate the mean, a.d.
and A.D. without this data. Which results
will you prefer?

Mean:
(14.34+14.32+14. 33+14.30+ 14.23)
5
= 14.304
a.d.
( 0.036+0.016+0.026+ 0.004+0.074 )
5
= 0.0312
A.D.
0.0312
5
= 0.01395
If I were the leader of the group, I would
omit 14.23 since it has a farther value and
deviates from the pattern of repeatability
evident from the other values.
Mean:
(14.34+14.32+14. 33+14.30)
4
= 14.3225
a.d.
( 0.036+0.016+0.026+ 0.004 )
4
= 0.0125
A.D.
0.0125
4
= 0.00625
I prefer the latter results.
7. References
[1]Avison, J. (1989). The world of physics.
UK: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.