Thursday, June 04, 2015

Why Do We Plot Our Data?

I stumble upon this Rhett Allain's article on Wired on the importance of plotting data, especially in experiments, and it reminded me of a similar document that had been used for quite a while at the Illinois Institute of Technology for their undergraduate physics labs.

I think both of them had the same idea and the same emphasis. Graphing and being able to know how to use it to analyze data is something that isn't normally taught in a physics class, and that is a shame, because it is an essential part of connecting experimental data to a "theory" or theoretical model. This is where the experiment and the theory meet! It is also where we can analyze how "reliable" or how much confidence we have on what we measure. This is important because when we do not have 100% certainty, we need to know when something is good enough to be accepted.

These are skills and knowledge that many are not exposed to, and it is sad that science classes, especially those involved with experiments, do not put more emphasis on such things.


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