# 1.3 Accuracy, precision, and significant figures  (Page 3/12)

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## Percent uncertainty

One method of expressing uncertainty is as a percent of the measured value. If a measurement $A$ is expressed with uncertainty, $\mathrm{\delta A}$ , the percent uncertainty    (%unc) is defined to be

$\text{}\text{% unc =}\frac{\mathrm{\delta A}}{A}×\text{100%}\text{}\text{.}$

## Calculating percent uncertainty: a bag of apples

A grocery store sells $\text{5-lb}$ bags of apples. You purchase four bags over the course of a month and weigh the apples each time. You obtain the following measurements:

• Week 1 weight: $\text{4.8 lb}$
• Week 2 weight: $\text{5.3 lb}$
• Week 3 weight: $\text{4.9 lb}$
• Week 4 weight: $\text{5.4 lb}$

You determine that the weight of the $\text{5-lb}$ bag has an uncertainty of $±0\text{.}4\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{lb}$ . What is the percent uncertainty of the bag’s weight?

Strategy

First, observe that the expected value of the bag’s weight, $A$ , is 5 lb. The uncertainty in this value, $\mathrm{\delta A}$ , is 0.4 lb. We can use the following equation to determine the percent uncertainty of the weight:

$\text{}\text{% unc =}\frac{\mathrm{\delta A}}{A}×\text{100%}\text{}\text{.}$

Solution

Plug the known values into the equation:

Discussion

We can conclude that the weight of the apple bag is $5\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{lb}±8\text{%}$ . Consider how this percent uncertainty would change if the bag of apples were half as heavy, but the uncertainty in the weight remained the same. Hint for future calculations: when calculating percent uncertainty, always remember that you must multiply the fraction by 100%. If you do not do this, you will have a decimal quantity, not a percent value.

## Uncertainties in calculations

There is an uncertainty in anything calculated from measured quantities. For example, the area of a floor calculated from measurements of its length and width has an uncertainty because the length and width have uncertainties. How big is the uncertainty in something you calculate by multiplication or division? If the measurements going into the calculation have small uncertainties (a few percent or less), then the method of adding percents    can be used for multiplication or division. This method says that the percent uncertainty in a quantity calculated by multiplication or division is the sum of the percent uncertainties in the items used to make the calculation . For example, if a floor has a length of $4\text{.}\text{00}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{m}$ and a width of $3\text{.}\text{00}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{m}$ , with uncertainties of $2%\text{}$ and $1%\text{}$ , respectively, then the area of the floor is $\text{12}\text{.}0\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}{\text{m}}^{2}$ and has an uncertainty of $3%\text{}$ . (Expressed as an area this is $0\text{.}\text{36}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}{\text{m}}^{2}$ , which we round to $0\text{.}4\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}{\text{m}}^{2}$ since the area of the floor is given to a tenth of a square meter.)

A high school track coach has just purchased a new stopwatch. The stopwatch manual states that the stopwatch has an uncertainty of $±0\text{.}\text{05}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\mathrm{s}$ . Runners on the track coach’s team regularly clock 100-m sprints of $\text{11.49 s}$ to $\text{15.01 s}$ . At the school’s last track meet, the first-place sprinter came in at $\text{12}\text{.}\text{04 s}$ and the second-place sprinter came in at $\text{12}\text{.}\text{07 s}$ . Will the coach’s new stopwatch be helpful in timing the sprint team? Why or why not?

No, the uncertainty in the stopwatch is too great to effectively differentiate between the sprint times.

## Precision of measuring tools and significant figures

An important factor in the accuracy and precision of measurements involves the precision of the measuring tool. In general, a precise measuring tool is one that can measure values in very small increments. For example, a standard ruler can measure length to the nearest millimeter, while a caliper can measure length to the nearest 0.01 millimeter. The caliper is a more precise measuring tool because it can measure extremely small differences in length. The more precise the measuring tool, the more precise and accurate the measurements can be.

definition of mass of conversion
Force equals mass time acceleration. Weight is a force and it can replace force in the equation. The acceleration would be gravity, which is an acceleration. To change from weight to mass divide by gravity (9.8 m/s^2).
Marisa
how many subject is in physics
the write question should be " How many Topics are in O- Level Physics, or other branches of physics.
effiom
how many topic are in physics
Praise
yh I need someone to explain something im tryna solve . I'll send the question if u down for it
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then what
Amera
linear motion is a motion in a line, be it in a straight line or in a non straight line. It is the rate of change of distance.
Saeedul
Hi
aliyu
Richard
Linear motion is a one-dimensional motion along a straight line, and can therefore be described mathematically using only one spatial dimension
Jason
is a one-dimensional motion along a straight line, and can therefore be described mathematically using only one spatial dimensions.
Praise
what is a classical electrodynamics?
Marga
what is dynamics
Marga
dynamic is the force that stimulates change or progress within the system or process
Oze
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State the forms of energy
machanical
Ridwan
Word : Mechanical wave Definition : The waves, which need a material medium for their propagation, e.g., Sound waves. \n\nOther Definition: The waves, which need a material medium for their propagation, are called mechanical waves. Mechanical waves are also called elastic waves. Sound waves, water waves are examples of mechanical waves.t Definition: wave consisting of periodic motion of matter; e.g. sound wave or water wave as opposed to electromagnetic wave.h
correct
Akinpelu
what is mechanical wave
a wave which require material medium for its propagation
syed
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watt
Okoli
Am I correct
Okoli
it can be in kilowatt, megawatt and so
Femi
yes
Femi
correct
Jaheim
kW
Akinpelu
OK that's right
Samuel
SI.unit of power is.watt=j/c.but kw.and Mw are bigger.umots
syed
What is physics
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Akinpelu
The word physics comes from a Greek word Physicos which means Nature.The Knowledge of Nature. It is branch of science which deals with the matter and energy and interaction between them.
Uniform
why in circular motion, a tangential acceleration can change the magnitude of the velocity but not its direction
reasonable
Femi
because it is balanced by the inward acceleration otherwise known as centripetal acceleration
MUSTAPHA
What is a wave
Tramsmission of energy through a media
Mateo
is the disturbance that carry materials as propagation from one medium to another
Akinpelu
mistakes thanks
Akinpelu
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