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Practical Physics

Book Description

Practical Physics demonstrates the purposive and critical approach that should be made to all experimental work in physics. It does not describe a systematic course of experiments, but is intended as a companion to any undergraduate course of practical work. The text is in three parts. The first deals with the statistical treatment of data, the second with experimental methods, and the third with such essential matters as keeping efficient records, accuracy in calculations, and scientific writing. The text is liberally illustrated with examples and exercises, with solutions to the latter. The new edition includes a treatment of the 2 distribution, a section on atomic clocks, worked examples based on spreadsheets, and additional exercises. Existing examples and references have been brought up to date. Although intended for undergraduates, Practical Physics has proved of interest to school-students, teachers, and researchers, not only in physics, but also in other branches of science.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright
  5. Contents
  6. Preface to the fourth edition
  7. Preface to the first edition
  8. 1. The object of practical physics
  9. Part 1: Statistical Treatment of Data
    1. 2. Introduction to errors
      1. 2.1. The importance of estimating errors
      2. 2.2. Systematic and random errors
      3. 2.3. Systematic errors
    2. 3. Treatment of a single variable
      1. 3.1. Introduction
      2. 3.2. Set of measurements
      3. 3.3. Distribution of measurements
      4. 3.4. Estimation of σ and σm
      5. 3.5. The Gaussian distribution
      6. 3.6. The integral function
      7. 3.7. The error in the error
      8. 3.8. Discussion of the Gaussian distribution
      9. Summary of symbols, nomenclature, and important formulae
      10. Exercises
    3. 4. Further topics in statistical theory
      1. 4.1. The treatment of functions
      2. 4.2. The straight line – method of least squares
      3. 4.3. The straight line – points in pairs
      4. 4.4. Weighting of results
      5. Summary of equations for the best straight line by the method of least squares
      6. Exercises
    4. 5. Common sense in errors
      1. 5.1. Error calculations in practice
      2. 5.2. Complicated functions
      3. 5.3. Errors and experimental procedure
      4. Summary of treatment of errors
      5. Exercises
  10. Part 2: Experimental Methods
    1. 6. Some laboratory instruments and methods
      1. 6.1. Introduction
      2. 6.2. Metre rule
      3. 6.3. Micrometer screw gauge
      4. 6.4. Measurement of length — choice of method
      5. 6.5. Measurement of length — temperature effect
      6. 6.6. The beat method of measuring frequency
      7. 6.7. Negative feedback amplifier
      8. 6.8. Servo systems
      9. 6.9. Natural limits of measurement
      10. Exercises
    2. 7. Some experimental techniques
      1. 7.1. Rayleigh refractometer
      2. 7.2. Measurement of resistivity
      3. 7.3. Absolute measurement of the acceleration due to the Earth's gravity
      4. 7.4. Measurement of frequency and time
      5. 7.5. The Global Positioning System
      6. Exercises
    3. 8. Experimental logic
      1. 8.1. Introduction
      2. 8.2. Apparent symmetry in apparatus
      3. 8.3. Sequence of measurements
      4. 8.4. Intentional and unintentional changes
      5. 8.5. Drift
      6. 8.6. Systematic variations
      7. 8.7. Calculated and empirical corrections
      8. 8.8. Relative methods
      9. 8.9. Null methods
      10. 8.10. Why make precise measurements?
    4. 9. Common sense in experiments
      1. 9.1. Preliminary experiment
      2. 9.2. Checking the obvious
      3. 9.3. Personal errors
      4. 9.4. Repetition of measurements
      5. 9.5. Working out results
      6. 9.6. Design of apparatus
  11. Part 3: Record and Calculations
    1. 10. Record of the experiment
      1. 10.1. Introduction
      2. 10.2. Bound notebook versus loose-leaf
      3. 10.3. Recording measurements
      4. 10.4. Down with copying
      5. 10.5. Diagrams
      6. 10.6. Tables
      7. 10.7. Aids to clarity
      8. 10.8. Some common faults – ambiguity and vagueness
    2. 11. Graphs
      1. 11.1. The use of graphs
      2. 11.2. Choice of ruling
      3. 11.3. Scale
      4. 11.4. Units
      5. 11.5. Some hints on drawing graphs
      6. 11.6. Indicating errors
      7. 11.7. Sensitivity
    3. 12. Arithmetic
      1. 12.1. Arithmetic is important
      2. 12.2. Computers
      3. 12.3. Calculators
      4. 12.4. Ways of reducing arithmetical mistakes
      5. 12.5. Checking algebra
      6. Exercises
    4. 13. Writing a paper
      1. 13.1. Introduction
      2. 13.2. Title
      3. 13.3. Abstract
      4. 13.4. Plan of paper
      5. 13.5. Sections of paper
      6. 13.6. Diagrams, graphs, and tables
      7. 13.7. Instructions to authors
      8. 13.8. Clarity
      9. 13.9. Good English
      10. 13.10. Conclusion
  12. Appendices
    1. A. Evaluation of some integrals connected with the Gaussian function
    2. B. The variance of s2 for a Gaussian distribution
    3. C. The straight line – the standard error in the slope and intercept
      1. Comment on the dependence of m, c, and b
    4. D. The binomial and Poisson distributions
      1. Binomial distribution
      2. Poisson distribution
    5. E. The χ2 distribution – test of goodness of fit
      1. Introduction
      2. Derivation of χ2 distribution
      3. The function Pn(χ2)
      4. Degrees of freedom
      5. Test of goodness of fit
      6. Worked examples
      7. Comments
    6. F. SI units
      1. Names and symbols
      2. Decimal factors
      3. Relation to c.g.s. units
      4. Definitions of the SI base units
    7. G. Values of physical constants
    8. H. Mathematical tables
      1. Values of the Gaussian function and the Gaussian integral function
      2. Values of χ2 for given v and P
  13. Solutions to exercises
  14. Some useful books
  15. References
  16. Index