By Colin Cooke
Realizing, designing and accomplishing experiments is on the middle of technological know-how. this article introduces the basic rules on which physicists should still construct a radical experimental method of their discipline.
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Additional resources for An introduction to experimental physics
The choice of Vmax is probably the most contentious decision made in the photoelectric experiment, and suggesting the next student considers other possibilities could be helpful to both of you. Perhaps the least satisfactory aspect of this experiment lies in the criterion used to choose the value of Vmax from the measured data. A simple approach was made here, and though it yielded results that were acceptable, it would be worthwhile investigating other possibilities. Another improvement may be achieved by concentrating only on those values of the current close to zero, as there is little useful information at larger values.
But it is silly to spend a lot of time and effort reducing the random error only for it to be swamped by a larger systematic error. The way to search for systematic errors is to perform more measurements, preferably using a different approach. Unfortunately, the alternative technique for measuring density, Archimedes’ method, requires a liquid that does not wet paper. Even if you do not use a different method it makes sense to ask other people to repeat the measurements in case your handling of the equipment has introduced a systematic effect.
You have to take two measurements: (a) source + background, giving ns+b counts in time ts+b; (b) background only, giving nb counts in time tb. The source strength is then deduced from the difference between these two measurements. Given a fixed duration for measurement, how should we apportion the total time between these two? One can see that the optimum division of time will vary with the strength of the source with the following reasoning. If the source is very strong compared with the background we do not need to know much about the latter because its effect is small.
An introduction to experimental physics by Colin Cooke