Silly physics...

Rob Park rbpark-NOSPAM at
Wed Feb 12 14:41:23 PST 2003

Alas! James Cozine spake thus:
> I did a lab in high school where one determines the acceleration due
> to gravity by swinging a pendulum.  The result should have been 9.8
> m/s^2, but we got 8.8 m/s^2.  I still don't know what we did wrong.

Well, sources of error could be almost anything. Since this was a
highschool experiment, I'd bet a lot of money that your largest source
of error was "crappy, unreliable measuring equipment" ;)

Speaking of weird errors, though, I remember one chemistry lab from

We were titrating some substance into some acid to try and determine the
acidity. But wait, it gets better: we forgot to write down one of our
measurements. We ended up just guessing the value, and when we got to
the end of the experiment, our results were something like 0.1% off of
the expected theoretical value. 

Our teacher was quite impressed, when she informed us that there was a
3% error built into the equipment we were using... ;)

Rob Park
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