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Physics I Lab Manual 2011 22 - EXPERIMENT 2 MEASUREMENT AND...

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EXPERIMENT 2. MEASUREMENT AND PRECISION your measured value as x 0 ± δx where x 0 is the average value from your measurements and δx is called the uncertainty and is half the deviation from the largest to smallest measured values. Note that the number of significant figures you include in your results is limited by the number of significant figures in the least precise measurement in your data. Suppose you measured the circumference to be c = 508 mm (which has 3 significant figures) and you measured the diameter to be d = 148 mm (which also has 3 significant figures). According to your calculator, the ratio c / d is equal to 3.432432432. This has 10 significant figures! You must round off this answer to three significant figures and write c / d =3.43. Numbers containing too many significant figures are wrong because they imply a precision that is not justified by your measurements! For the same reason quantities calculated from measured values that do not include the uncertainty are wrong. To reiterate, your final result
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