Physics307L F08:People/Martin/Speed of Light

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  1. Brief summary of what I did. Link the the lab manual: [1]
  2. Links to all wiki pages that contain my notebook entries.


Purpose To measure the speed of light



  • slope: 3.06E8 m/s +/- 1.83E7 m/s SJK 01:13, 25 October 2007 (CDT)
    01:13, 25 October 2007 (CDT)
    This is very difficult to read! Too many figures on the mean, and very confusing using scientific notation on error, but not on the mean.
  • wikipedia definition of the speed of light: 299792458 m/s
  • percent error: 2%

How to improve on the results

  • our percent error was only two percent, that is pretty good
  • I think that most of our error was randomSJK 01:16, 25 October 2007 (CDT)
    01:16, 25 October 2007 (CDT)
    I hear what you're saying here, but think the use of systematic isn't correct. Check out this definition of systematic error, which stresses that systematic errors bias the answer in one direction or the other. In your case, even though the equipment is clearly affecting your ability to take precise measurements, it appears that you aren't very biased one way or the other.
  • We had discussed eliminating some of the major random error by ignoring the random output by the oscilloscope (the reading jumped around and was hard to determine a definite value) and connecting the system up to some computer system, I would be interested to see if Tomas can do this and if it will work better.


  • During this lab I learned how a lot of equipment worked and got to test one of the most fundamental constants in physics. Overall I think that the results of this lab both in myself and the numbers that we got were quite impressive.