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Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)
[60/60]  PHYSICS [60/00 - Ord. 2012]  PERCORSO COMUNE 12 144


1. Knowledge and understanding skills
Students will learn the knowledge required to realize the experiments of Physics 1 (Mechanics, Fluid dynamics, Thermodynamics) to collect and interpret the data within the error propagation theory.

2. Practical skills
Students will learn how to use the theory of probability and the use of the probability distributions to estimate the values of physical quantities measured in the laboratories and their uncertainties. In addition, they will be able to prepare and interpret plots by means of fit procedure for linear and power laws. They will learn how to use a proper software (like an electronic sheet) to analyse the data.

3. Independent judgment
Students will learn how to apply the scientific method to analyse natural phenomena. They will be required to interpret in a physical way the data acquired during the experiments, by means of tables, plots and best fit procedures.

4. Communication skills
Students will develop the ability to work in a group, the skill to present the experiments and their results within the framework of a scientific report.

5. Learning ability
The educational target is to develop the experimental sensitivity of the students, inspiring a critical aware approach to the measurement procedure aiming to extract and evaluate the requested information by means of the scientific method. The learning ability will be evaluated as related to the understanding of the instrumentation, to the critical processing of experimental data and to the ability of draw physical laws from the experiments.


Prerequisites regard knowledge of mathematics, geometry and trigonometry at secondary school level:
Power rules, radicals and logarithms.
Linear and quadratic equations
Euclidean geometry
Knowledge, at base level, of the concepts of function, limit, derivative and integration.


Physical quantities and scientific method
Definition of a physical quantity
Systems of units of measurements
Dimensional equations
Homogeneity principle and dimensional analysis
International system of units, cgs system and practical system
Conversion factors
How to measure physical quantities
Characteristics of measurement instrumentation

Elements of probability calculus and statistics
Experiments and random occurrences
Concept of probability: classical definition and frequentist definition
large number law or empirical law of chance
Theorems of total probability and composite probability
Random variables
discrete random variable: probability distribution
Characteristic parameters
Main distributions: binomial and Poisson distributions
Continuous random variable: probability density function
Characteristic parameters
Normal or Gauss distribution
Chi-square distribution
Estimate of mean value, variance and standard deviation of a random variable
Confidence intervals for the mean value

Error theory
Uncertainty of measurements: random and systematic errors
Theory of observation errors; absolute and relative errors
Random and systematic contribution to the measure uncertainty
Data rejection and Chauvenet criterion
Error propagation in indirect measurements: statistic and maximum errors
Weighted mean
Empirical law search: least square method
Linear least square
Linear correlation coefficient
Chi-square test: agreement between empirical and thoeretical distribution
Scientific notation
Meaningful figures
Binomial series
Interpolation and extrapolation

Security in laboratory
Writing a scientific report

Experiments on statistic distribution of repeated measurements
Experiments on the determination of physical laws
Radioactive decays and Poisson distribution
Pendulum of variable length
Mass-Spring oscillator
Light velocity
Prism spectroscope
Thin lenses
Michelson Interferometer

Experiments on absolute and relative density
Experiments of mechanics
Coupled springs
Conservation of momentum in collision experiments
Kundt tube and air sound velocity
Cavendish scale and universal gravity constant
Gyroscope precession
Centrifugal force
Thermodynamic experiments
Ideal gasses law
Critical point in real gasses
Stirling engine

Teaching Methods

Frontal lectures
Physical quantities, probabilities, statistics, theory of errors: 50h
Security in laboratory and writing of a scientific report: 4h
Use of a software for data analysis and implementation of plots and tables: 4h
Introduction to the experiments: 8h
Practice of statistics: 10h
Laboratory experiments
8 experiments for each group: 62h
Correction of reports: 8h

Frontal lectures will be the main teaching mode, online strategies will be also exploited to integrate the contents, granting innovative and inclusive access to all the students

Verification of learning

The evaluation of the acquired skills is based on the active attendance to lessons and laboratory sessions, on the assigned exercises and those corried out during the course, on the partial exam based on the topics of the first part of the course, on the scientific reports, on the eventual oral exam.
The examination is structured in the following way
1- Evaluation of the exercises of statistics and errors assigned as home work in the due time
2- To pass the written exam on statistics and errors in January/February (a second chance is planned in the summer session)
The tests evaluate the knowledge in:
- combinatorial analysis
- physical quantities and units of measure
- distributions of Bernoulli, Poisson and Gauss
- propagation of experimental uncertainties
3- Evaluation of scientific reports.
This phase evaluates the possess of the following abilities:
- to calculate probabilities and distribution of probability
- to estimate uncertainties on quantities extracted from experimental data
- to prepare and interpret plots
- to apply fit procedure for linear and power law
- to use a software for the data anlysis
4- Delivering of scientific report (by means of e-learning web site of laboratory 1) should be fulfilled in 15 days from the experience, delayed deliveries will take negative remarks proportional to the delay.
Scientific reports, and behavior in laboratory, will be evaluated to assess the possession of the following skills:
to measure physical quantities
to elaborate and analyze experimental data
to extract physical laws from the experiments
to present experiments and results in a scientific report

The final score is due to the evaluation of the different phases, according to the following waights:
- Exercises on statistics: 12% (3.6/30)
- Exam of statistics: 20% (6/30)
- Scientific reports: 50% (15/30)
- Final evaluation: 18% (5.4/30)
- The Final Evaluation includes the judgement of teacher and laboratory tutors referred to:
active participation to lessons and lab sessions
interaction with teacher and tutors, both in the laboratory and in discussing the scientific reports
interaction with collegues in the team
in time delivery of scientific reports
eventually, discussion of contents and practices related to experiments carried out in the second term

The student, at whish, can complete the exam by attending an oral exam based on the issues exposed at lessons and the problems faced in the labs.

To pass the exam (the minimum evaluation is 18/30) one needs to achieve the pass mark (18/30) in all the evaluation voices or a proper combination of votes according to afore mentioned scheme. However, to pass the written exam and to deliver all the scientific reports is mandatory to achieve the pass mark.
To achieve the maximum grade (30/30 cum laude) the student should demonstrate to have acquired an excellent knowledge in all the topics and activities done during the course.

In the event of negative outcome, the student must support a new exam based on one of the laboratory experiences and prepare a scientific report; the exam is completed by an oral.


Reference textbook:
John R Taylor
An Introduction to Error Analysis: The Study of Uncertainties in Physical Measurements
Ed. Zanichelli

Optional books
G. Cannelli
Metodologie sperimentali in fisica

G. Filatrella
P. Romano
Elaborazione statistica dei dati sperimentali
con elementi di laboratorio

Further didatic material (slides, description of experiments, exercises) will be available through web repository

More Information

Students attending the course must register at the web page of the course of Laboratory of Physics 1 on the platform elearning.unica.it
In the web site students will find lessons’ slides, texts of exercises, sheets of experiments, news and calendars. Students are requested to upload exercises and reports in the web site.

Questionnaire and social

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