Physics 451 - Laboratory Notebooks


There are few lectures and no textbook in this course so the Laboratory Notebook is one of the main interactions between us. A softside 9" x 12" "Computation Notebook" is much better than a 8" x 10" hardback book - you must purchase one of those computational notebooks for this class.

The purpose of a Laboratory Notebook is to provide a record of what you did, why you did it and how you did it during each laboratory period. This record should be readable at some later time by you or anyone else.  Most importantly, there should be enough information so you easily reconstruct what you did the previous week, in case somebody from the other section has moved around all your cables!

At the beginning of a new experiment you should describe it, tell what you hope to accomplish and how you will be doing it.

Each day's entry should begin with a date, time, a statement of what you plan to do and why. Subsequent entries should include (for example) how you wired a cable; what purpose it served; problems you found and your solutions to them: e.g. "My connector was clearly not designed to be soldered to a wire".

All general specifications should be listed at the start of a data taking run:

Data should be taken in NEAT columns (until we start to take it on the computer).

Graphs are to be made and analyzed on a graphing program such as KALEIDAGRAPH, AXUM or a spread sheet such as EXCEL.

Systematic and experimental errors should be listed:

At the end of each day, make a summary of your accomplishments and unresolved problems as well as your plans for the next laboratory period.

I will grade your lab-books after each experiment and make comments on your progress in "lab-book construction".