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1336 Words Jan 21st, 2013 6 Pages
Lab 3: Newton’s Second Law: The Atwood Machine
Introduction:
In the study of physics a lot of the basics were put in place by Isaac Newton. Out of the 3 laws of motion he had declared the second law states that force equals mass times acceleration (F=ma). The Atwood machine is a machine that has a pulley in the air and a string running through the pulley, some kind of mass is suspended by each end of the string. When the suspended masses are unequal, the system will accelerate towards the direction of the larger mass. In this experiment, we used different masses to the velocity of the Atwood system. The data we collect for this experiment are the differences in mass between the two masses, the distance the heavier mass has to fall
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The measured accelerations and theoretical accelerations were noticeably different because of the error in the instruments were used to complete the lab and the undeniable amount of human error allowed to be apparent in this lab. The Atwood formula is based on a frictionless environment, we had both friction in the pulley and the string and air resistance that we did not determine and figure into our formula. We had used a meter stick to determine the height at which the mass was dropping, this meter stick was not exactly precise due to the intervals and also due to the fact that the height was more than 1 meter, thus making us move the stick up and again adding to the error of our experiment. More error in the lab was the stopwatches used didn’t get the exact time it took for the mass to fall because of the reaction time it takes for a human to start and stop the stopwatch. These problems could’ve been fixed by taking the roll of humans out of this experiment by using photogates to determine the times of how fast the mass had fallen, also to measure the height of the drop there could’ve been a more accurate way of detirmning it.
Even with all these glaring errors, we can see that the Atwood formula worked because the percent errors we detirmed for each the three different mass differences are relatively close to eachother, 68.48%, 61.62% and 70%, so if we were able to perform an errorless or near errorless lab the measured and theoretical accelerations

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