Physics 344, Fall 2009
In this course you will perform several experiments in different areas
of physics. In addition to studying the underlying physics for each
you will learn many fundamental experimental techniques and how to record
report your results and analysis. These skills are crucial for anyone
who would like to investigate our natural world! In particular,
all students completing this course will be able to:
- set up advanced equipment, using the necessary resources (manuals,
- trouble-shoot and solve equipment setup problems,
- acquire and analyze data in the manner best addressing
an experimental question,
- estimate and propagate uncertainties associated with laboratory
measurements in order to draw accurate conclusions
- manage their time and work constructively with others,
- write scientific reports with appropriate display of data, and
leading to conclusions.
*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 that 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 are links to the basic procedures for maintaining your lab notebook,
and a description of the notebook grading
- 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 two of the experiments that you perform this semester,
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 printers. Here is a link to the lab report grading criteria.
- 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 that 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
- Please feel free to do your own research on the topics related to a
particular experiment -- the Physics Library is close by (collection
located on 4th floor of Sci-Tech library). Of course, with references from
the library, books and materials in the lab, or with electronic
resources, such as information from the internet, you
must be careful to cite your sources appropriately in your
reports and notebook. The instructor and TAs will be happy to give
assistance with this.
- For most of the lab projects, you will work with one other class
You are free to choose your own lab partner and you may switch lab
later in the semester if there are at least two groups willing to
- Your lab partner should be registered for the same course as you --
you may not partner with a PHY462 student.
- You will work together with your partner assembling the apparatus
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
presentation of your results.
*Assistance and supervision:
- A professor will be available in the lab for at least one hour during
each lab session. The teaching assistant will be
present during all scheduled course times. You are allowed to have
to complete an experiment beyond the scheduled class period, provided
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
- 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. Remember to return your key to Diane
Sanderson at the end of the semester.
- 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. Sign-up sheets will be posted
on the door to room 377 for people to log their time in class.
- 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
*Selection of experiments:
- There are currently ten experimental setups available.
- 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 (and students taking the graduate laboratory
course will be using some of the apparatus as well).
- During the first week of classes, while we are working on the
project, please find a lab partner. The two of you should then survey
available experiments and discuss them with the instructor and TA,
then email the TA your top five choices for your first experiment.
- There will be no exams.
- Each student will complete five experiments during the semester.
All students will work on the the introductory error analysis project
at the start of the semester. There will also be homework assignments
the Error Analysis textbook that will be assigned and due during the
of the semester.
- For each experiment that you complete, including the Error Analysis
project, you will turn in your lab
(so, 5+1=6 total notebook grades).
- For one of the first three experiments (not including the
Error Analysis project), and one of the last two experiments, you will
prepare and submit a lab report in
addition to your notebook for that experiment (so, 2 total report
- For one of the experiments after Experiment #1, students
will give a 15-minute presentation in class on the due date
for that particular experiment (so, 1 presentation grade).
We will try to have an equal fraction of the students give presentations
on each of the four dates in the table below. When you turn in your
labbook for the first experiment, you should indicate your preference
(if any) for the date of your presentation.
- Your grade will be determined by your lab
your lab reports, your presentation,
your homework, and your overall performance in the lab.
- Equal weight will be assigned to each of the assignments
(6 x notebooks + 2 x reports + 1 x presentation + 1 x homework =
- Do not move on to a new experiment until you have completed the data
acquisition and analysis for your previous experiment, and handed in your
lab notebook for grading.
- Each project must be completed with your notebook submitted no
than the following dates
(submissions before these due dates are always welcome):
| Error Analysis Homework
|Introductory Error Analysis Project
|Experiment #1 (and pref. for presentation date)
- Report #1 must be submitted no later than November 4 and Report #2
on December 16.
- 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) that you quote or paraphrase in your
presentations, or lab notebooks, must be
cited. The Syracuse University Academic Integrity Policy holds students
accountable for the integrity of the work they submit.
Students should be familiar with the Policy and know that it is their
responsibility to learn about instructor and general academic
with regard to proper citation of sources in written work.
The policy also governs the integrity of work submitted in exams
and assignments as well as the veracity of signatures on attendance
and other verifications of participation in class activities.
Serious sanctions can result from academic dishonesty of any sort.
For more information and the complete policy,
- Students who are in need of disability-related academic
accommodations must register with the Office of Disability Services (ODS),
804 University Avenue, Room 309, 315-443-4498. Students with authorized
disability-related accommodations should provide a current Accommodation
Authorization Letter from ODS to the instructor and review those
accommodations with the instructor. Accommodations, such as exam
administration, are not provided retroactively; therefore, planning for
accommodations as early as possible is necessary. For further information,
see the ODS website, Office
of Disability Services.