To measure the acceleration due to gravity, you want to time how long it takes a ball to fall...


To measure the acceleration due to gravity, you want to time how long it takes a ball to fall with a stopwatch. Which of the following will cause a random error?

(a) The stopwatch is not accurate; it runs slightly slower.

(b) The calculator you are using to do the computations does not round off numbers correctly.

(c) There is friction between the ball and the air.

(d) Your reflexes are not good, causing you to start and stop the stopwatch inaccurately.

(e) The ruler you use to measure the distance the ball falls is inaccurate.

Random Error:

Random error is unavoidable in physical systems. It is caused by the inability to completely control the experimental environment. Importantly, uncertainties resulting from random error may cause a measurement to be either too high or too low with equal probability, therefore with an increased number of measurements, the experimental results become more and more likely to be accurate. This is in opposition to systematic error, in which a measurement has a consistent inaccuracy that does not cancel out with more measurements.

Answer and Explanation: 1

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a) No, this is a systematic error since the time will always be slow.

b) No, consistently rounding numbers incorrectly will always cause the answer...

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Accuracy, Precision & Types of Errors in Data Evaluation


Chapter 29 / Lesson 3

This lesson will explain the meaning of accuracy and precision with respect to scientific measurements. Examples will be provided as well as a discussion of possible errors that can affect the accuracy and/or precision.

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