Physics 344/462, Spring 2007
In this course you will perform several experiments in different areas of physics. In addition to studying the underlying physics for each measurement, you will learn many fundamental experimental techniques and how to record and report your results and analysis. These skills are crucial for anyone who would like to investigate our natural world!
*Recording measurements and reporting results:
- It is important for a scientist to record his/her work in the laboratory in a bound lab notebook. This makes it possible to collect sketches of the experimental design, descriptions of techniques, and data, even from measurements which were later determined to be flawed, in one place. The Syracuse University Bookstore will stock such notebooks, produced by National Brand, part number 43-648. These have grids on each page, page numbers, and are large enough to attach separate drawings or printouts using clear tape. Here is a link to the basic procedures for maintaining your lab notebook.
- A scientist must be able to report her/his measurements in a clear document with a detailed explanation of the experimental technique used, presentation of the relevant data in appropriate plots and tables, and a discussion of the comparison of the measured results with the theoretical predictions. For each experiment you perform, you will write such a lab report using a word processor, along with plots and fits of data using the Origin plotting program and basic sketches using drawing tools on the PC as necessary. The TAs and instructor can assist you in learning these various programs. The PCs in room 377 are networked to allow printing to the physics departmental printer on the second floor.
- John R. Taylor, An Introduction to Error Analysis (University Science Books, 1982) -- required -- available at the University Bookstore. This book describes the appropriate procedures for characterizing uncertainties in any sequence of measurements. We will begin studying this book immediately as we learn basic measurement techniques and error analysis with our introductory project on general measurements. In fact, the procedures we study will be crucial for performing any of the experiments you will work on throughout this semester, as well as your future scientific work, so this is an important book to have available.
- In addition, there are many references which are quite useful for the various experiments you will perform. We will try to have several of these available in Room 377, but please do not remove these books from the lab.
- For most of the lab projects, you will work with one other class member. You are free to choose your own lab partner and you may switch lab partners later in the semester if there are at least two groups willing to swap.
- Your lab partner should be registered for the same course as you -- so, pairs of PHY344 students and pairs of PHY462 students.
- You will work together with your partner assembling the apparatus and acquiring the data, however you and your partner must keep separate lab notebooks with your own record of the data and experimental method. You may work with your partner on the analysis of your data, however you must both write and submit independent lab reports with your own presentation of your results.
*Assistance and supervision:
- The professor will be available in the lab for at least one hour at two of the three sessions each week. At least one teaching assistant will be present during all scheduled course times. You are allowed to have extra time to complete an experiment beyond the scheduled class period, provided you follow a few important rules:
- You may not work on any experimental apparatus alone. At least one other student registered for Physics 344/462, perhaps your lab partner, must be present.
- After hours, you may not start a new experiment or turn on any equipment which you have not thoroughly checked out with the instructor or TA.
- To obtain a key to room 377, please see Diane Sanderson in the Physics Department main office (room 201). If you are the last person to leave the lab, please turn off all equipment for your experiment (unless you are working on the muon lifetime project), turn off the lights, and make sure the door is locked.
- Students workng on either the NMR or Magnetic Torque experiments may obtain a temporary key to the front auxiliary room from the instructor. This room is to remain locked when no one is working on either of these two projects.
- In order to gain the maximum benefit from the teaching assistants and instructor, you must be working in the lab for at least 50% of the scheduled class time each week.
- As in any laboratory, please follow general safe practices. Here are a few basic rules:
- Never work on experiments in the lab when the room is empty (see after-hours rules above).
- Consult the various manuals and references in the lab when setting up new equipment.
- If you don't understand something, please ask the instructor or TA for assistance before going further.
- Do not consume food or beverages in the lab. Please go out in the hallway or downstairs if you need a snack.
- Use caution when working with any of the light-emitting equipment. In the Optics lab, never look directly into the laser beam. In the Photoelectric Effect project, do not look at the mercury arc lamp while it is on -- use the metal shield cage and/or safety goggles at all times.
*Selection of experiments:
- There are currently fourteen experimental setups available, although two of them, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Thin Film Deposition and Measurement, are designated for students registered for PHY462. It is possible that a few more projects will be added later in the semester.
- Several of the experiments will have extra components which are required for students in PHY462 but optional for students in PHY344.
- We will do our best to accommodate student requests for the different experiments, but of course only one group can be working on a particular experiment at any given time.
- During the first week of classes, while we are working on the introductory project, please find a lab partner. The two of you should then survey the available experiments and discuss them with the instructor and TAs, then email the instructor with your top five choices for your first experiment.
*Grading (updated -- 2/25/07):
- There will be no exams.
- Each student registered for PHY344 will complete four experiments; each student in PHY462 will complete four experiments during the semester. All students will work on the the introductory error analysis project at the start of the semester. Your grade will be determined by your lab reports, your lab notebook, and your overall performance in the lab. Equal weight will be assigned to each of the experiments you complete, while the introductory project will count with half the weight of one of the primary experiments. Students may complete five projects, if another experiment is available at the appropriate time. In this case, the top four scores from the five projects will be used to determine the course grade.
- Do not move on to a new experiment until you have completed the data acquisition and analysis for your previous experiment.
- You must submit your lab report no more than one week after you complete an experiment and start a new one.
- Each project must be completed with your notebook and report submitted no later than the following dates:
|Introductory Error Analysis Project
- Late reports and notebooks will be marked down one grade notch (for example, A to A-, B+ to B, etc.) for each class period beyond the relevant deadline.
- As with any assignment, your work must be original. Any sources (even online resources) which you quote or paraphrase must be properly cited. In the case of violations, the academic integrity policy from the Office of the Vice Chancellor & Provost will be followed.