An experiment measuring the elasticity of six different springs

The place where most laboratory ultra-high pressure work is done. Two diamond faces separated by a thin gasket in the shape of an annulus. The item to be pressurized is in fluid in the cell. When the diamond faces are pressed together, the gasket is deformed outward somewhat.

Everybody knows that when you apply a force to a spring or a rubber band, it stretches. A physicist would ask, "How is the force that you apply related to the amount of stretch? Every physics experiment has a purpose, often phrased as a question that the experiment hopes to answer.

Generally, we want to know "What is the mathematical relationship between quantity A and quantity B? Often, we have a theoretical prediction about a relationship that we want to check, as in "Is the acceleration of an object directly proportional to the net force on it?

So, we could state the purpose of this experiment as "Is the stretch of a spring proportional to the applied force? For one thing, the experiment must be designed and carried out so that only the two relevant quantities are allowed to change.

If this is not carefully attended to and there are generally many quantities that could affect the results of an experiment the experimental results will be worthless. Of course, there are some secondary but still very important purposes for this lab.

What sort of result - what sort of answer - would a physicist expect in an experiment? The very best result would be an equation that expresses the mathematical relationship between the two quantities involved in the experiment. In this case, the very best result would be an equation that expresses the mathematical relationship between force and stretch for a typical spring.

So, how do you "come up" with such an answer? As you proceed in your study of physics you will learn some techniques that generally turn a graph into an equation with a minimum of fuss. So, if you have a set of graphs that show the relationship between force and stretch for typical springs, you are pretty-much "golden".

How do you get these graphs? You need to know how much force produces how much stretch - for as wide a range of force and stretch as possible. Clearly, you need to measure both the stretching force and the amount of stretch - how much known forces stretch a spring.

A convenient way to apply a precisely-known force is to let the weight of a known mass be the force used to stretch the spring. The stretch of the spring can be measured by noting the position of the end of the spring before and during the application of the force.

There are a lot of things to think about when collecting data: Data collection should be organized. A well-thought-out data table is the only way to go here. You should have the data table ready to go when you enter the lab.

Columns should be clearly labeled, with units. In this lab, measured quantities will probably be mass, starting position of the spring, and stretched position of the spring.

Leave room for the results of calculations in your data table, but be sure that it is clear which quantities were measured and which quantities were calculated, as well as how they were calculated. In this lab, calculated quantities will probably be the stretching force, and the distance that the spring was stretched.

Data should be recorded as neatly as possible. We all realize that there can be a lot going on in the laboratory, so no one is expecting a "work of art" - just be sure that your data table is readable.

Be sure that you keep your original data.With the recent publication of PHYSICS IS there are now three Ask the Physicist books! Click on the book images below for information on the content of the books and for information on ordering.

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This page is intended to convey some basic information about the movements (the "works") of mechanical or "wind up" watches. It gives some basic terms for the parts of a movement so that you can ask questions about them more confidently. Hooke's Law and a Measurement of Spring Constant.

You'll use Hooke's Law to determine the spring constant of a spring. Later in the course, you'll use the spring and the value of spring constant in another lab.

Many springs obey Hooke's Law as long as you don't stretch them too far. One would do an experiment to measure position, x, as.

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