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# Experiment 2 Acceleration due to Gravity Date: January 20th 2013 Instructor: Stephanie Lewkowitz Name: Anthony Campbell Group:

3 Section: PHY2048L-019

PURPOSE The purpose of this experiment is to measure the acceleration of an object in free fall, by assuming that the only force acting on the object is the gravitational force. EQUIPTMENT Free fall adapter (ME-9207B), Steel balls (16.0 mm, 19.0 mm), balance, 2m-meterstick, stand with a long rod, interface box, computer. THEORY The equation describing the motion of a body starting from rest and undergoing constant acceleration can be expressed as: d= 1/2gt2 eq(1) where d is the distance the object has traveled from its starting point, g is the acceleration of the object called acceleration due to gravity, and t is the time elapsed since the motion began. Therefore, the acceleration is equal to the distance doubled, divided by the time squared, g=2d/t2 PROCEDURE For this laboratory activity, a free fall adopter and two steel balls of different masses are used. The free fall adaptor measures the falling time (t) for each steel ball. The adopter operates by recording the time the steel ball takes to hit its landing pad after being released from its release mechanism which is set at a recorded height. Using a laboratory scale, measure and record the mass of steel ball one, and steel ball two. Use the free fall adapter to record three falling times for each steel ball when the ball is released from the release mechanism set at each of the following five heights: 1.65m, 1.45m, 1.25m, 1.05m, and eq(2)

0.95m. From the three times collected at each height, keep the smallest time. Assuming only gravity was acting on the steel balls, use the data collected to determine the acceleration due to gravity. DATA AND ANALYSIS Table1:

## (T1)2 (s2) 0.311 0.271 0.232 0.194 0.175

The data collected for the two steel balls was organized, and is reported in Table 1. From surveying only the raw data as is reported in Table 1, we see certain expected trends such as, as the balls are released from lower and lower heights the fall time also decreases. This relationship tells us that distance and time are therefore directly proportional. From basic algebra we know that the graph for the equation: Y=mX eq(3) With m being the slope, is the graph of a straight line. Therefore, if plotting distance (d) versus time squared (t2) results in a straight line, the equation relating them is analogous to equation 3, and would be: d=mt2 eq(4)

The theory states equation 1 describes the motion of a body starting from rest and undergoing constant acceleration. Setting equation 1 equal to equation three and simplifying, we are able to deduce that the slope, can be expressed by the equation: m=1/2g eq(5)

where the slope (m) is equal to one half the acceleration of gravity (g). The ultimate purpose of this experiment is to find a specific value for the acceleration of gravity. Plotting the data in table 1, identifying their slopes and multiplying by two should then give us a value for the acceleration of gravity.

Graph 1:

## Distance vs Time2 Plot for a 0.016kg Steel Ball in Free Fall

1.8 1.6 1.4 Distance (m) 1.2 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 Time2 (s2) 0.25 0.3 0.35 0.4 y = 4.9258x R = 0.9999

Graph 1 depicts the plotting of the distance versus time squared, for a 0.016kg steel ball. The graph as was predicted is a straight line, and the slope thereof is calculated to be 4.9258m/s2. Rearranging equation 5 to express the equation in terms of acceleration of gravity, we get the equation: g=2m eq(6)

Utilizing equation 6, we can now calculate the acceleration of gravity, which comes out to be 9.85m/s2. The accepted value for the acceleration of gravity on a free falling object is 9.81m/s2. The formula for percent error is: PE=|Accepted Calculated|/Accepted x100 eq(7) Where PE is percent error and || stands for absolute value. Our percent error for steel ball 1 is then 0.4% this is extremely low and leads us to be satisfied with the results.

Table2:

## Distance vs Time2 Plot for a 0.028kg Steel Ball in Free Fall

1.8 1.6 1.4 1.2 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 0 0.05 0.1 0.15 Time2 0.2 (s2) 0.25 0.3 0.35 Distance (m)

y = 5.3587x R = 0.9997

Graph 2 depicts the plotting of the distance values versus the time squared values for steel ball two, which weighs 0.028kg. As was done for graph1, the slope for graph2 is calculated and multiplied by 2, based on equations 5 and 6. This gives us a value of 10.72m/s2 for our acceleration of gravity. Using equation 7, we know that we are 9.23% away from the accepted value. CONCLUSION The objective for this experiment was completed, based on our groups ability to measure the acceleration of gravity for an object in free fall to less than 1% of the accepted value (In one of our attempts). While this experiment was highly successful, we did have a rather large percent error for steel ball number 2 at 9.23%. At first glance it would appear to be logical that we calculated a larger value for the heavier object. However, this experiment is designed to neglect air resistance. Meaning mass no longer has an effect on how quickly the objects fall, and the only factor is the acceleration of gravity. Therefore the acceleration of gravity should have been equivalent for both steel balls. An error that could have been responsible for our miscalculations could be us not adjusting the release mechanism to the correct height for release, thus the ball might have traveled more, or less distance than we used in our calculations. In addition to this systematic error, there could also have been a slight misreading on the part of the adapter, no doubt this depending on its severity, would have disturbed our calculations. Overall though, the experiment taught and reinforced the principles of free fall; this is what was important.

QUESTIONS Q1) Using a stopwatch to record the time the balls take to fall from various heights would not be accurate for the time taken for each individual height. The inaccuracy would be due to our inability to start and stop the stopwatch exactly as the ball is released and as it hits the ground, because we our self would have a delay in the form of reaction time. However, for the total calculation the error can be washed out, if we can keep our reaction time constant, which I highly doubt anyone would be able to do. So, no using a stopwatch would not work. Q2) The percentage difference between accepted and measured values is the percent error. Q3) One possible reason is not adjusting the release mechanism to the correct height, and not making amends for it in your calculations. Q4) Gravitational acceleration doesnt vary based on size distance or mass of the objects, because the equation expressing acceleration of gravity, does not take into account mass, during free fall. More importantly, gravitational acceleration doesnt increase because it is a constant.