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The purpose oI this lab is to take measurements oI objects, such as length, and then use those
measurements to make calculations that describe additional properties oI those objects, such as volume,
in an eIIort to gain experience with the uncertainty oI measurements and identiIying sources oI error.
Science is based on the careIul use and interpretation oI measurements. No quantity is ever measured
with perIect precision, thereIore it is important to identiIy sources oI uncertainty and error, and to
evaluate the precision oI calculations and conclusions. Calculations perIormed in this lab are:
volume oI a cylinder
/ 4 =
/ =
For the Iirst part oI the lab, using a vernier caliper, measurements oI length and diameter were made oI
two solid metal cylinders, one made oI steel and one made oI aluminum. Each cylinder was also
weighed on a digital scale. These values were then used to calculate and Iind the uncertainty in the
volume and density oI each cylinder. The density Ior each metal is also compared to an 'accepted
value. For the second part oI the lab, using a micrometer, a measurement oI the thickness oI 20 sheets
oI paper was made in order to calculate the thickness oI a single sheet. For each part, particular
attention was paid to the concept oI "signiIicant Iigures" and the relative error oI each calculation.
Table 1:
Measurements and calculations oI solid metal cylinders
Material Height (cm) Diameter (cm) Volume (cm
) Mass (g)
Steel 3.025 /- 0.2 1.270 /- 0.4 3.832 /- 1 29.76 /- 0.03 7.77 /- 1 7.85 1
Aluminum 8.560 /- 0.05 1.915 /- 0.3 24.65 /- 0.6 69.78 /- 0.01 2.83 /- 0.6 2.70 5
Table 2:
Measurement and calculation oI paper
Thickness oI 20 sheets oI paper (mm) Thickness oI 1 sheet oI paper (mm)
3.05 /- 0.3 0.153 /- 0.02
Our measurements and calculations Ior the metal cylinders yielded a density that was very close to the
accepted values Ior each oI the metals. It is likely that this small diIIerence can be attributed to
imperIections in the geometry oI the cylinder (dents and scratches Irom years oI use) or slight
imperIections in the composition oI the metals. It was interesting to note the signiIicant propagated
error when calculating volume Irom the length and diameter but that the error wasn't propagated to the
density calculation. It seems that due to the higher sensitivity oI the instrument used to measure mass,
the inherent error oI this measurement was 'absorbed by rounding Ior signiIicant Iigures. As Ior the
measurement and calculation oI paper, iI we assume uniIormity in the thickness oI each sheet oI paper,
we are able to get a more precise measurement with less relative error when measuring multiple sheets
and dividing rather than measuring a single sheet. In this case, the calculation oI a single sheet turned
out to be more precise than the sensitivity our instrument is capable oI measuring.