The Theory of Experiment

Theory of Experiment (which was written by Professor David M. Cook in the Department of Physics at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI) began life in the summer of 1967 when Professor Cook and three of his Lawrence colleagues conducted an NSF-supported full-summer experience for high school students, with students electing to spend half of each day in their choice of two subjects from physics, chemistry, biology, and geology. The component in physics aimed to provide an experimentally focussed approach to elementary physics, and the text drafted at the time included chapters describing the underlying physics as well as chapters laying out standard approaches to the analysis of uncertainty and the fitting of data to equations. A similar experience in the summer of 1968 for a second group of high school students provided an opportunity to refine those materials. No further use of the full text in that context ensued, but the chapters on statistical data analysis, propagation of uncertainty, curve fitting, and keeping laboratory records have continued to be used in the introductory undergraduate physics laboratories at Lawrence ever since, including in the years since the author's retirement in 2008. For whatever (good or crazy) reason, those few chapters have retained the numbers they had in the more complete version, which explains why this document contains only Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8 and Appendix A. To be sure, the included components have undergone considerable revision during that period of several decades, and the document has been further refined in an effort to make it available more broadly in a PDF file that can be easily printed and in a PDF file with hard-linked internal references.

Preface and Table of Contents

Download Selected Documents

Download Program Files

Download Source Files

Other contributions by Professor Cook:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.