Sebastian Speed of Light
PurposeSJK 18:07, 28 October 2010 (EDT)
The purpose of this lab was to measure the speed of light. The specifics on how we managed to actually measure the speed of light can be found in my primary lab notebook (here), under the procedure section.
- Oscilloscope TDS Tektronix 1002
- Bertan Power Supply Model 313B
- Canberra Delay Module NSEC 2058
- Ortec TAC/SCA Model 567
- Harrison Laboratories Power Supply (for LED) model 6207A
- Multiple BNC Cables
- Long Carboard Tube (which served as the housing for the PMT and LED)
Lab SummaryThis Lab turned out to be a very frustrating experience for my lab partner and me (more about the issues we experienced can be found under the 'Issues' section of my primary lab notebook). In order to measure the speed of light, we needed to shoot pulses of light from an LED at one end of the long cardboard tube to the Photomultiplier tube at the other end of the cardboard tube. A signal from both the LED (start signal) and the PMT (stop signal), which is generated when the light from the LED hits it, are sent to the TAC (time to amplitude converter). The TAC then generates an output voltage, which according to the lab manual, is "proportional to the start-stop time difference." We had to use a time delay on the TAC in order to ensure that the signals were being analyzed by the TAC simultaneously.SJK 17:38, 28 October 2010 (EDT)
Calculations and Results
Accepted Valuewhich can be found here. This is the value for the speed of light in a vacuum, but I could not find a credible value for the speed of light in air.SJK 17:43, 28 October 2010 (EDT)
- Although the accepted value does not fall within our range (68% confidence interval), I am fairly satisfied that we were in the ball park with our measurements considering we experienced problems throughout the lab. In comparison to the accepted value, we had the following percent error:
- %Error = 4.3%
Overall I think that this lab taught my partner and I about some common mistakes that could be made in the lab. We were able to get usable data after struggling through some problems with Katie and Prof. Koch. This data allowed us to make a calculation for the speed of light that was about 4.3% off from the accepted value. This is not considering the equipment we were using and the very jumpy signal on the oscilloscope. Even with the Average Function turned on (on the oscilloscope), we were still doing a fair amount of estimation when we took our data. The fluctuations in this signal could account for some of our error as well as the other topics mentioned in the error part of my primary lab notebook.