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Marc Wierzbitzki

Physics HL

December 2010

Finding the value of g (gravitational acceleration) with the help of Atwoods Machine
Aim: In this experiment, we wanted to test one method of finding the value of gravitational acceleration (g=9.80665 m/s2)1 with the help of Atwoods machine. Construction: To find g, we simply built Atwoods machine (two masses connected by a string that is going over a fixed pulley), as seen in the sketch below. Execution: We did not have any constants in this experiment except the distance that our masses will travel (h=0.805m 0.005m). We will change both masses and note down the time it takes the mass M to hit the ground. The masses will be released from rest and we will take times 5 times for each pair of masses to reduce our error.

Results: M (in kg)


0.0005kg

m (in kg)
0.0005kg 1 2 3

T (in s)
0.3s 4 5 0.03s

0.090 0.090 0.095 0.105 0.050

0.080 0.070 0.080 0.070 0.040

3.830 1.450 1.900 1.160 1.890

3.810 1.450 1.930 1.010 1.910

3.810 1.430 1.990 1.040 1.850

3.820 1.440 1.920 1.040 1.870

3.950 1.450 1.910 1.040 1.880

3.844 1.444 1.930 1.028 1.880

Error analysis: While doing this experiment, I noticed one important thing: When I tried to collect data for two masses where the difference was very small, lets say M=0.095kg and m=0.090kg, none of the masses moved, which means that the pulley did not go smooth, there was too much friction. We will have to bare that in mind when looking at the final results. Besides that, we had an error when timing of T0.3s as we did not have light gates available and used stopwatches instead. The masses were quite accurate, the biggest deviation we noticed was very small and therefore we chose to calculate a standard error of M0.0005kg. When measuring the high difference, we used a ruler and therefore our error here is h0.005m. Data processing: ) In order to find the gravitational acceleration (g=9.80665 m/s2), we use the formula ( ( ) ( ) and rewrite it so that g is the subject: . But before, we will have to find the acceleration ( ) of the two masses (it will be the same in magnitude as they are connected

http://physics.nist.gov/cgi-bin/cuu/Value?gn

Marc Wierzbitzki

Physics HL

December 2010

by a string that does not extend or hang loose, but obviously they will be opposite in direction. After we ) against ( did that, we can then find g by plotting a graph of ( ) so that the gradient is g. M (in kg)
0.0005kg

m (in kg)
0.0005kg

a (in m/s2)
0.001

( 0.018 0.131 0.075 0.266 0.041

( 0.010 0.020 0.015 0.035 0.010

0.002kg m/s2

0.001kg

g (in m/s2) 1.800 6.560 5.040 7.610 4.090

0.090 0.090 0.095 0.105 0.050

0.080 0.070 0.080 0.070 0.040

0.108 0.772 0.432 1.520 0.455

Marc Wierzbitzki

Physics HL

December 2010

g=(M+m)a/(M-m)
0.3

0.25

0.2

(M+m)a

0.15

y = 8.1852x - 0.0307 y = 9.5047x - 0.0649 y = 9.9565x - 0.0705

0.1

0.05

0 0 0.005 0.01 0.015 0.02 (M-m) 0.025 0.03 0.035 0.04

Marc Wierzbitzki

Physics HL

December 2010

The above graph gives a gradient of 9.505ms-2. The minimum gradient is 8.185ms-2 and the maximum gradient is 9.957ms-2. Therefore, the final result is going to be g=9.505ms -2 1.320 ms-2. This massive error shows that there will have to be done some improvements that we have to think about. Looking back, when I tried a small difference in the two masses M and m, I noticed that they did not move at all, even though they should have moved. Therefore it can be concluded that there is a large frictional force in the pulley itself. This can also be seen in the table above, when where there are small differences in M-m, the result for g is far off 9.80665 ms-2. If we plotted the real values for g in the graph displayed above, we can see that this line is nearly parallel to the one that is shown. Therefore it can be concluded that the biggest error comes from the friction in the pulley. In addition to this, there was also a considerable error when timing during the experiment. There were two delays during this process and the fact that the time in-between starting and stopping was really small as well only worsened this, while increasing the error. Possible ways to improve the experiment Next time when I will be doing this experiment, I will definitely pay attention when selecting a pulley. To do that, I think it would be a good idea if I just test a pulley by using two masses whose difference is quite small. This would definitely help me in the end, because someone else tried this and when he had two masses of small difference, his masses did move. In addition to that, I could also try and only use big differences in order to eliminate this source of error as well as possible. . Then, I should also try and use more masses and note down not only 5 but instead I could maybe do 10 repetitions. In addition to that, it would be good to use more accurate masses. If you look at the graph and especially at the error bars, you see that the x-error is really big simply because the proposed error for the masses I used was m0.005kg. Reducing that error will show more clearly if the calculated value for g really is within the range of g=9.80665. Furthermore, it would improve the experiment by timing with light gates and not with a stopwatch. This could then look like this:

Conclusion Looking at what has been said before, the results we got were not too bad, but the biggest error, the friction in the pulley, has to be eliminated in order to make the result useful and more accurate. Redoing the experiment while keeping in mind the possible improvements listed above will hopefully get a value closer to g=9.80665 ms-2.