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Experiment 1: Errors, Uncertainties, and Measurements

Laboratory Report
Kate Auditor, Bethanee Baes, Keana Balverde, Lina Lou Berdijo
Department of Occupational Therapy
College of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Santo Tomas
Espaa Street, Manila Philippines
Abstract
and delicacies with the use of measurements.
Society greatly relies on the application
Though measurement has been of measurements in order to progress. Because
standardized in order to reach universality and of this, measuring must be executed properly.
convenience, errors and uncertainties still To pursue this, man developed units of
presents itself, even in simple experiments. measurements.
With the use of a foot rule, a vernier caliper Tracing back to the ancient times, man used
and a micrometer caliper, the mean diameter objects such as ropes, stones and sticks to
of a metallic sphere were measured and measure objects. Units were also based using
derived from to get the average deviation of human body parts such as arms, hands and
the mean diameter and the % error. The sphere feet. However, body parts varied from person
measured a mean diameter and an average to person, making constancy a dilemma. To
deviation of 1.51 cm and 0.03cm with the foot address the confusion, the French National
ruler, 1.582 cm and 0.0009cm with the vernier Assembly appointed the committee that
caliper and 1.5835 cm and 0.0002cm with the created the metric system in 1790.
micrometer. By comparison, the micrometer
To this date, despite the convenient use
caliper proves to be the most accurate with a of standardized measuring tools, errors and
0.33% error, followed by the vernier caliper uncertainties still exist. Hence, this experiment
and the foot rule with a 0.61% error and aims to (1) to study errors and how they
15.71% error respectively.
propagate in simple experiment, (2) to
determine the average deviation of a set of
I. Introduction
experimental values, (3) to determine the mean
of a set of experimental values as well as set of
Man has long put efforts to describe average deviation of the mean, (4) to
his environment in an objective and universal familiarize the students with the vernier
manner. As a result, man has created a special calliper, micrometer calliper, and foot rule, (5)
medium we generally know as measurement. to compare the accuracy of these measuring
Today, measurements continue to be a great devices, (6) and to determine the density of an
part of mans life; its use being utilize by all object given its mass and dimensions.
professions in every variety of settings.
Healthcare practitioners have now been able to
II. Theory
accurately give doses of medicine through the
use of measurements. Similarly, engineers and
In this experiment, uncertainty in

architects have been building stronger measurement is shown by the result of


infrastructures
through
the
use
of
measurements. Even on a simpler field,
mothers all around have been making dishes

limitation in accuracy or precision. Accuracy


Methodology
of measurement describes how well the resultsVI.
agree with an accepted value of the quantity
The foot rule, vernier caliper, and
being measured. Precision refers to the degree
of exactness to which a measurement can be micrometer caliper were used to measure the
diameter of the sphere, as well as its errors.
reproduced.
First, the least count of the foot rule,
For the experiment, the precision and
accuracy is tested by using instruments with vernier caliper, and micrometer caliper
varying least count and, therefore, significant determined. Then the group took ten
figures it can express. Least count of any independent measurements to measure the
precision instrument is defined as the least diameter of the sphere using the foot rule. The
distance travelled by it. Generally, the number ten independent measurements were added
of significant figures is the number of reliably then divided by 10, to calculate for the mean
diameter of the sphere. After that, the group
known digits.
Below is the formula to determine the computed for the deviation (d) of each
measurement of diameter from the mean
least count of an instrument:
diameter. Then the average deviation (a.d.),
which is the sum of the deviations (d) divided
one main scale
= L. C .
by the number (n) of observations, was
no . of divisions
calculated.
The accuracy is determined by solving
d
a . d .=
for average deviation and % error. Average
n
deviation is referred as the average of the
absolute values of the differences between
Taking note of the average deviation
individual numbers. Note that average
deviation of each diameter is different from (a.d.), the group then computed for the average
average deviation of the mean diameter. deviation of the mean diameter (A.D.) with the
Percent (%) error is the measure of how use of the following equation:
faulty a measurement is, compared to the
a.d .
true/accepted value. Below are the formulas
A . D .=
n
used:

of deviations
no . of observations

average deviation
no . of observations

= average deviation

= Average Deviation
of the mean diameter

The volume of the sphere was then


calculated using the following formula:
(wherein r is the mean radius)
4
V= r3
3

meanradius=

meandiameter
2

|experimentalaccepted value| x 100

error =

accepted value

The weight of the sphere was determined


by the use of the electronic gram balance. With
that, the experimental density of

the sphere was calculated using the values that


were obtained in computing the volume of the
sphere and its mean radius.
density=

mass
volume

The instructors gave the accepted value of


density. Using that, the group computed for the
% error for density.

|experimentalaccepted value| x 100

error =

accepted value

The second to the last steps were then


repeated to gather the values of the vernier
caliper and micrometer caliper.
Image 1 and 2. The sphere was measured using the
micrometer caliper

Figure 1: Vernier Caliper

Trial
1

1.584cm

1.584cm

1.584cm

1.584cm

1.584cm

1.584cm

4
5

1.583cm
1.584cm

1.583cm
1.584cm

1.583cm

1.583cm

1.583cm

1.583cm

8
9

1.583cm
1.584cm

1.583cm
1.584cm

10

1.583cm

1.583cm

Mean Diam.

1.8535cm

a.d.

0.0005cm

A.D.

0.0002cm
2.0789cm3

Figure 2: Micrometer Caliper

Trial

Vol.

Foot Rule

Mass

16.27g

Exp. Val.

7.8259(g/cm3)

Acc. Val.

7.8(g/cm3)
0.33%

% Error

1.60cm

1.60cm

1.50cm

1.50cm

1.60cm

1.60cm

4
5

1.60cm
1.50cm

1.60cm
1.50cm

1.20cm

1.20cm

1.50cm

1.50cm

8
9

1.70cm
1.50cm

1.70cm
1.50cm

10

1.40cm

1.40cm

Mean Diam.

1.51cm

a.d.

0.09cm

A.D.

0.03cm
1.80cm3

Vol.
Mass

16.27g

Exp. Val.

9.04(g/cm3)

Acc. Val.

7.8(g/cm3)
15.71%

% Error

Micrometer Caliper

Image 3. The vernier caliper is used to


measure the sphere

VII.

Results and Discussion

The diameter of the


sphere (in cm) measured using
a foot rule, a vernier caliper and
a micrometer caliper has been
summarized in Table 1, Table 2,
and Table 3 respectively. Ten
trials were executed in order to
get precise measurements using
the instruments.

Table 1. Diameter of Sphere using Foot Rule


Trial

Vernier Caliper

1.580cm

1.580cm

1.585cm

1.585cm

1.585cm

1.585cm

1.575cm

1.575cm

1.580cm

1.580cm

1.585cm

1.585cm

1.585cm

1.585cm

1.580cm

1.580cm

1.580cm

1.580cm

Table 3. Diameter of Sphere using Micrometer Calliper

Varying precision can be seen from the


results. The least comes from measurements
taken using the foot rule which show products

10

1.580cm

1.580cm

Mean Diam.

1.582cm

a.d.

0.003cm

A.D.

0.0009cm

Vol.

2.073cm3

Mass

16.27g

Exp. Val.

7.848(g/cm3)

Acc. Val.

7.8(g/cm3)

% Error

0.62%

Table 2. Diameter of Sphere using Vernier Calliper

ranging from 1.40 cm to 1.70 cm, making a


hypothetical difference of 0.30 cm. The
greatest precision is shown by measurements
using the micrometer calliper, with results
ranging from 1.583 cm to 1.584 cm, making its
difference a hypothetical 0.001 cm. The
vernier calliper follows next with its
measurements ranging from 1.575 to 1.585,
showing a hypothetical difference of 0.010.
This confirms/exhibits that a relationship can
be established with precision and least count:
precision of an instrument is limited by the
smallest division on the measurement scale.
Aside from mentioned, observable is the
differing accuracy of each instrument.
However, the same instrument still yielded the
same type of result. Least accurate came from
measurements using the foot rule, with a 0.03
cm as average deviation of the mean and a
15.71% error. Most accurate amongst is the
By contrast, it can be observed that most
members have similar sizes of thumb.
However a member does have a slightly
smaller thumb. This illustrates that using body
parts cannot be used as a standard as it breaks
constancy. Constancy is essential to achieve
standard measuring.

micrometer calliper, which measurements gave


a 0.0002 cm average deviation of the mean
diameter and only 0.33% error. Next to this,
the vernier calliper also exhibited good
accuracy with a 0.0009 cm average deviation
of the mean and a 0.62% error. This presents
that there is an existing a relation between least
count, significant figures and accuracy.
Accuracy of an instrument depends on how
well its performance is compared to a currently
accepted value. More number of significant
figures ensures definite value, which can be the
basis of an instruments performance In order
to have more significant figures present, the
smaller the least count it, the better.
The data gathered also show that
precision and accuracy share a relationshipVIII. Conclusion
with each other. Measurements can be accurate
Error is always present in
and, if so, will most often be precise to each
other. However, because accuracy does depend measurement. This may be because of
of the instruments performance and not by (1) naturally unpredictable fluctuations in the
smallest divisions, it is not necessary that readings of a measurement apparatus or in the
interpretation
of
the
measurements will be precise and also be experimenter's
instrumental reading, known as random error
accurate.
Limitations to precision and accuracy and/or because of (2) imperfect calibration of
may be attributed to errors encountered during measurement instruments or imperfect
the execution of the experiment. One of those methods of observation, or interference of
the
measurement
encountered by the group is inexperience with the environment with
process,
and
always
affect
the
results of
the instruments. Another could be unconscious

carelessness by the members. Worse of all is


the false readings or measurements from a
broken instrument because of a missing yet
very vital part, such as a missing Rachet on a
micrometer.
Table 4 shows the width (in inches) of
the thumb of the group members using a foot
rule.
Group
Member

Thumb
width

0.6

0.6

0.6

0.5

showed less % error than the foot rule, making


it the least accurate amongst the three
instruments.
VII. Application
Post Laboratory Questions:
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? Superlative amongst
the three is the Micrometer Caliper that gave
only a 0.33% error. Taking this to account, the
group affirms that the least count of the
measuring device does affect the measurement.
Following the principle of errors caused by
limitation, the smaller the least count is (hence
forth, smaller limitations), the smaller % error
there would likely be.

an experiment in a predictable direction,


known as systematic error. The former cannot
be determined, though the latter can be
predicted and easily be remediated.
After 10 trials of measuring the metallic
sphere with each instrument, the mean
diameter gathered from the foot rule, vernier
caliper and micrometer caliper are 1.51 cm,
1.582 cm and 1.5835 cm respectively. The
densities derived are as follows: 9.04 g/cm 3
using data from the foot rule, 7.848 g/cm3 from
the vernier caliper and 7.8259 g/cm3 from the
micrometer caliper. With the earlier data, the
average deviation derived from all 10 trails
using the foot rule, vernier caliper, and
micrometer caliper are 0.09, 0.003, 0.0005
respectively, while average deviation of the
mean diameter derived from the measurements
from the foot rule, vernier caliper and
micrometer caliper are 0.03, 0.0009, 0.0002
respectively.
By comparison, the micrometer caliper
is the most accurate with the availability of
more number of significant figures expressed,
yielding a smaller average deviation and %
error. Measurements using the vernier caliper
4. A student weighed himself using a
bathroom scale calibrated in kilograms. He
reported his weight in pounds. What is his
percentage error in his reported weight if he
used this conversion: 1 kg = 2.2 pounds?
The standard kilogram is equal to 2.2046
pounds.

2.2 pounds2.2046 pounds


x 100=0 .21
2.2046 pounds

2. What do you mean by error? What are error


the types of error? What are the errors you
encountered in this experiment? Error is 5. In an experiment on determination of
referred in Physics as a disparity or deviation mass of a sample, your group consisting of 5

between a measurement and the accepted or students obtained the following results:
true value. Errors are classified into two (2) 14.43g, 14.32g, 14.33g, 14.30g, and 14.23g.
types: (1) systematic error, which are due to the
limitations of the measuring instruments and a. i. find the mean:
the skill of carefulness of the experimenter, and
14.34 g+14.32 g+14.33 g+14.30 g +14.23 g
(2) random error, which are caused by external

5
factors beyond the control of the experimenter
such as vibrations, noise, changes in
71.52 g
atmospheric pressure and friction. The group
=
5
did encounter a few errors such as parallax
error, and the inexperience using the
= 14.304 g
instruments. However, the group had a harder
time resolving the dilemma with the measuring
ii. find the a.d.:
instrument since the first one the group was
14.304 14.34
0.036
able to use was a broken micrometer with a
14.304 14.32
0.016
missing rachet.
14.304 14.33
0.026
3. Sketch a.) a vernier caliper that reads
5.08cm b.) a micrometer caliper that reads
2.55 mm
(answers are attached at the back)
b. 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? Given the option, each of the
members of the group would like to omit 14.23 g
because it is not as precise as with the other data.
c. Recalculate the mean, a.d. and A.D. without
this data.
i. Mean:

14.34 g+14.32 g+14.33 g+14.30 g


4

57.29 g
4
= 14.32 g

ii. a.d.:
14.304 14.34

0.036

14.304 14.30
14.304 14.23

0.004
/-0.074/

0.036+0.016+ 0.026+0.004+

0.074 /
5

0.156
=0 . 0312 g
5
iii. find the A.D.:
0.0312
5 = 0.0139 g

14.304 14.32
14.304 14.33
14.304 14.30

0.016
0.026
0.004

0.036+0.016+0.026+ 0.004
4
0.05
=0 . 0125 g
4
iii. A.D.
0.0125
4 = 0.00625g

d.Which results will you prefer? The result


without 14.23 g is preferred by the group because
the results yield a smaller deviation, and perhaps a
smaller % error.

VIII. Reference:
Edmonds, Dean S. Jr, Cioffaris Experiments in
College Physics, Massachusetts: D.C. Health
and Company, 1988