PHYSICS LABORATORY 1 (UNIT 2)
Learning outcomes of the course unit
This course aims to bring students to a level of knowledge in measurement methodologies that enable them to manage independently simple laboratory experiments to determine mechanical and calorimetric quantities. Also aims to provide students with a basic knowledge of the theory of errors with elements of probability theory and stochastic variables.
Knowledge and understanding
The student will learn the basic concepts of probability theory, the key statistical distributions and their properties, the main statistical methods for data treatment. The student will be able to discuss basic Physics topics in order to devise and carry out the experimental verification.
Applying knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course the student will be able to: plan simple experiments of Physics, evaluate and treat the statistical and systematic errors of a measurement. It will also have acquired a familiarity with the different methods of measurement and the ability to process and analyze statistically the results by means of suitable tools that help also their graphical representation and summarize relations within the experiments themselves.
Through working in the lab, discussions with the teacher and the team group, students will be led to learn and practice the scientific method, also throughout observational process, experimental proof, and critical revision of results. Usage of the hypothetico-deductive model approach will be implemented, together with the ability, in devising new experiments, to differentiate between essential and marginal aspects.
After every activity in the lab students will produce a written work to develop abilities in description, presentation and discussion of their results. Continuous interaction with teacher and other students will develop also the oral communication skill.
Lab activity, necessity to provide new or different solutions to a problem, will develop both analytical and creative skills in problem-solving, thus widening the students way of thinking.
Some basic concepts of math: algebra, trigonometry, analytic geometry, differential and integral calculus.
Some basic concepts in physics: kinematics and dynamics of material point, calorimetry.
Course contents summary
Basics of theory of probability.
Distribution functions for discrete and continuous random variables.
Estimators and their properties.
Statistical hypothesis testing
- motion of rigid bodies
- motion of pendulum
- fluid mechanics
- waves in continuous media
- calorimetry and phase transitions
1. Basics of theory of probability: statistics and probability. Short account on the axiomatic theory of probability: axioms of Kolmogorov.
2. Fundamental theorems of the theory of probability: addition and multiplication of events; complement of an event; dependent and independent events; conditional probability. Addition and multiplication rules for independent and dependent events; total probability theorem; Bayes’ formula. Repeated trials: Bernoulli trials, binomial law. Short account on the deduction of the theorems in the frame of axiomatic theory of probability.
3. Probability distributions: distribution laws, cumulative distribution functions and probability density; estimators and their properties: mean, median, mode; moments of a distribution, asymmetry and kurtosis. Chebishev inequality.
4. Discrete probability distributions: discrete uniform distribution; binomial distribution: moments, recurrence relations; Poisson distribution: moments. Radioactive decays.
5. Continue probability distributions: continue uniform distribution; Gauss distribution; standardized gaussian distribution; moments; gaussian approximation of binomial and Poisson distributions. Central limit theorem. Chi-squared distribution. Cauchy distribution.
6. Gaussian distribution: maximum likelihood criterion: mean as the best estimate, standard deviation, standard deviation of the mean, weighted average. Demonstrations of relations for error propagation: basic operations, sum of squared errors, general formula.
7. Applications to data treatment: least squares fitting and regression, linear fitting, weighted least squares fitting; non-linear fitting. Multiple stochastic variables, marginal density, stochastic independence, covariance; covariance and error propagation. Correlation: linear correlation coefficient.
8. Applications to data treatment: consistency tests: significance level, chi-squared test; consistency of a distribution.
The laboratory experiments will cover the following subjects:
• motion of rigid bodies
• motion of pendulum
• torsional oscillations
• damped and forced oscillatory motion
• fluid mechanics
• waves in continuum media
• calorimetry and phase transitions
1. J.R. Taylor, Introduzione all'Analisi degli Errori, Ed. Zanichelli, Bologna, 2° ed., 2000.
2. M. Loreti, Teoria degli errori e fondamenti di statistica, http://wwwcdf.pd.infn.it/labo/INDEX.html (2005).
3. Materiale fornito dal docente.
The didactic activities are divided into classroom lessons and practical laboratory activity. The module is 6 CFU (credits). Classroom lessons are 2 credits that correspond to a total of 14 hours of classroom activity. The practical laboratory activity is 4 credits, which corresponds to a total of 48 hours of laboratory activity. The slides used to support classroom lessons will be uploaded weekly on the Elly platform. To download the slides, you need to enroll in the online course. Slides are considered an integral part of teaching material. Part of the frontal lessons will be dedicated to the detailed description of the laboratory experiments. In the laboratory will also be presented both the instrumentation to be used and data acquisition and analysis programs.
Assessment methods and criteria
In Itinere evaluations. Oral examination.
The laboratory work is accounted for by written reports, one for each laboratory experiment. All the written reports will receive at the end of the semester a final mark (0-30). At the end of the course an oral examination (0-30) and, in case of not positive evaluation of the written reports during the course, a laboratory experience might be required. The final graded will be a weighted average between the written reports (40%) and the oral examination (60%)
The course is split up into two periods: 6 CFU in the first semester and 6 CFU in the second semester. There is a single final exam at the end of the second semester.