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Physics Laboratory Report

Experiment: No. 1

Title: Basic Measurement and Uncertainty

Prepared By: Date: 4 November 2011

Liyana binti Hamdan (D20101037385)


Wan Nur Syuhada binti Wan Semail (D20101037366)

Lab Instructor:

En Kamal Ariffin

Lab Section:

Makmal Pakar 1A

Remarks by Grader:


Laboratory Instructors Initials:

Experiment 1:Basics measurement and uncertainty


1. Expose the students to the simple understanding of the uncertainty, and the propagation of
2. Enable the students to identify and write the value of uncertainty that are associated to the
3. Develop the basics experimental skills including handling of measuring devices, taking
measurements, using appropriate instruments and etc.
4. Determine the density of an object and its uncertainty.


Measuring some physical quantities is part and parcel of any physics experiment. It is important
to realize that, not all measured values are exactly the same as the actual values. This could be
due to the errors that we made during the measurement, or perhaps the apparatus that we used
may not be accurate or sensitive enough. Therefore, as a rule, the uncertainty of a measurement
must be taken and has to be recorded together with the measured value.

The uncertainty of a measurement depends on the type of measurement and on how it is done.
For a quantity x with the uncertainty x , the reading written as follows:

x x

Furthermore, we can calculate,

Relative uncertainty =


Percentage of uncertainty, x% = 100%

1.1 Single Reading

(a) If the reading is taken from a single point or at the end of the scale we use:

x = x (the smallest division from the scale)

(b) If the apparatus uses a vernier scale:

x = 1 x (the smallest division from the vernier scale)

(c) If the readings are taken from two points on the scale:
= the smallest division from the scale

This applies to measurements made using electric meters, stopwatch, vernier calipers and
micrometer screw gauge.

1.2 Repeated Readings

For a set of n repeated measurements of x, the best value is the average value:

where n = the number of readings taken

xi= the reading

The uncertainty is given by:


The result should be written as:

1.3 Density

The density, of a substance is given by:

where, m = mass of the substance

V = volume of the substance

This may be determined experimentally by measuring the mass and volume of a given
sample. The volume of regularly shaped object can be calculated from length measurements;
for example:
(i) Cuboid
V = w h

= + +

where, = length , w= width and h= height of the rectangle

(ii) Cylinder

V=( )

=2 +

Where r = radius and = length of the cylinder

(iii) Sphere


Where r = radius of the sphere

The uncertainty of density is given by:


i. A wooden block
ii. A meter ruler
iii. A vernier caliper
iv. A boiling tube
v. A graduated cylinder
vi. A pebble
vii. A string (40 cm)
viii. A micrometer screw gauge A ball bearing
ix. A 20 cm copper wire SWG 16 (or lower)
x. A balance (preferably electronic balance)


1. Measure and record the dimension of wooden block including their uncertainties using
meter ruler.
2. Vernier caliper was used to determined the thickness of the boiling tube wall including its
3. The density and the uncertainties of materials that are listed above was determined by:
a) Use the electronic balance to obtain the mass (in grams).
b) Use the micrometers gauge or vernier caliper to measure the diameter, length and
other measurement of the wooden block, the ball bearing and cooper wire. Use
the graduated cylinder to measure the volume of the pebble.
c) Estimate the errors that are related to the measurement using the calculation and
Data Analysis

The Determination of the Density

Description Mass/(kg) Length/ Widht/ Height/ Volume/ Density/(kg/

of Object (M M) (m) (m) (m) (
(L L) (W W) (H H) (V V) (
Wooden (0.11 (9.9 (9.9 (1.8 (1.764 (623.50

Cooper (7.5 (0.208 (1.28 (2.667 (2801.64
Wire 1 ) 72.71)

A ball (3.52 (9.53 (4.532 (

Bearing 0.005

A Pebble (0.0242 (1 (2420


The uncertainty of every instrument used in this experiment must be determined before the
process of measurement. Usually the uncertainty of the instrument had been writing at the
instrument, but it is better to us to determine by calculation.

They are the calculation for instrument:

1. Meter ruler
=2 [ 1]cm
= 0.1cm

2. Vernier caliper

Main scale : centimeter (cm)

Smallest unit for main scale : 0.1 cm

Smallest unit for vernier scale : cm 0.002 cm

0.002 cm

3. Micrometer screw gauge

Main scale : millimeter ( )
Smallest unit for main scale : 0.5
Thimble scale : 0.01 mm


= 0.005 mm

4. Electronic Balance
Calculation for data:

Calculation for this experiment was determined by the theory that are provided. The density of
the object was not same from one to other. Its depend on the types of object.

a) Wooden block

By using meter ruler :

Volume =

Mass =

= (109.51

= 176.42

= 1.337

= (1.337

= ( 1.337 )

V = (1.7642
Density = = =


= 4.78 kg


b) Boiling tube

Measured by using using vernier caliper :

Outer =


Thickness outer inner

c) Pebble

Mass weighed by using electronic beam balance

Volume measured using graduated cylinder = final volume of water initial volume of water
Density =

= 243 kg


d) Copper wire

Mass weighed by using electronic balance

Length measured by using meter ruler

Diameter measured by using micrometer screw gauge


Radius =

= (0.64 m

Volume =


= 3.3784

Density =

= 2801.64

=72.71 kg

Density = (2801.64

e) Ball Bearing
Mass (electronic balance) = (3.52 = (3.52

Diameter (Micrometer Screw Gauge) = 9.5 mm + ( 3

= ( 9.53 0.005 ) mm
= (9.53

Radius = (4.765

Volume =

= 4.532

= 7.133

Density, =

= 7766.99 kg

=111.00 kg

Density, = (5840.68 111.00) kg


The experiment was carry out to determined the suitable instrument to measure the density of
substance. Suitable instrument that are used for this experiment was very important to make sure
we got the precise reading for the calculation. Calculation in this experiment was calculate refer
to the theory provided. During the experiment was carry out, there are a few error that occurs.

Errors that occur :

i. There are parallax error that happen when the eyes does not directly proportional to the
reading of the measurement.
ii. Zero error that are at the instrument.
iii. There are air resistance that are effect the mass of substance when the mass was taken by
electronic balance.
iv. The instrument used for the substance does not suitable, so the reading does not precise.
v. The reading of the measurement does not repeated.
How to overcomes:
i. Make sure our eyes are directly proportional when taken the reading of measurement.
ii. Adjust the instrument to decrease the zero error.
iii. Make sure there are no air resistance when use the electronic balance.
iv. Use the suitable and precise instrument for different substance.
v. Take a few reading of measurement and calculate the average to get the accurate reading.

The density from this experiment will be more precise when the suitable instrument used. In
order to

[1] http://physics.unc.edu/labs/sample report.php, retrieve Oct 3rd, 2011,
[2] John D. Cutnell,Kenneth W.Johnson, Introduction to Physics, 8th Ed. John Wiley & Sons
(Asia) Pte Ltd, 2010
[3] Christopher G. Deacon, Error Analysis in the Introductory Physics Lab, The Physics
Teacher,vol 30, 368, (1998)