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What are different errors in measurement?

by Sonali

Errors may rise from different sources and are classified as:

  • Gross Errors
  • Systematic errors
  • Random Errors

Gross Errors: 

  • These errors are mainly because of human mistakes.
  • If the person records incorrect reading or does some mistake in calculation of readings.
  • It is necessary for the experimenter to be alert while recording the readings.
  • Let’s say if the experimenter reads the value of voltage as 16.9V instead of 16.2V the gross error occurs.
  • Whenever the readings are taken manually this error is about to happen. 

Systematic Errors

There are three types of systematic errors

  • Instrument errors
  • Environmental errors
  • Observational errors

Instrumental Error

The three main reasons for this error are:

(i)  Due to inherent shortcomings in the instrument

(ii) They occur because of misuse of the instrument

(iii) The loading effects of instruments is also one of the reasons for this error.

This error occurs due to inherent shortcomings of instruments. These shortcomings can be because of construction or calibration of the instrument. 

While making precision measurements we recognize the possibility of such error as it is often possible to eliminate them by using the following methods:

(1)  The procedure of measurement must be carefully planned. 

(2)  Correct factors should be applied after determining the instrumental error.

(3)  It is possible to recalibrate these instruments.

Misuse of instrument:

A good instrument used in an unintelligent way may give erroneous results. When the zero of the instrument is not proper this error occurs. The other reason may be poor initial adjustments of the instrument.

Loading effects: 

When any experimenter makes his first attempt this error occurs. When the use of instruments is not proper. The voltmeter has a loading effect on the circuit. This happens when the voltmeter is connected across a high resistance circuit. 

Environmental error

  • They occur because of the environmental conditions near the instrument.
  • The main causes are temperature, dirt, vibration etc.
  • They may also occur due to electrostatic fields or magnets.

It is possible to remove these error.

  • There should be computed modifications.
  • The area near the instrument should be clean.
  • The preparation should be complete beforehand in order to get better results. 

Observational Error 

  • There are many sources responsible for this error.
  • They occur due to fault instrument reading.
  • While taking reading when the indicator of voltmeter returns little over the surface of scale. This error occurs.
  • The parallax error is the main reason for this type of error.
  • Use extremely precise meters can avoid parallax error.

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