# Is a computer required for basic physics experiments in the laboratory?

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1. Oct 29, 2014

### Dorea

As you can see in the below image, they use computers for some of their experiments. What will students do with it?! (Who are they? Find them here.)

img: http://physics.nyu.edu/~physlab/GenPhysII_PhysIII/Scope&EKG.jpg [Broken]
img2: http://physics.nyu.edu/~physlab/Classical and Quantum Wave Lab/CoupledPend1_med.jpg (Coupled Pendulums)
img3: http://physics.nyu.edu/~physlab/GenPhysII_PhysIII/Interference_med.jpg (Diffraction and Interference)
img4: http://physics.nyu.edu/~physlab/GenPhysII_PhysIII/HeatEngine.JPG (Heat Engines)

Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
2. Oct 30, 2014

### Andy Resnick

Increasingly, computers are used for data acquisition and analysis in introductory physics labs. I wouldn't say use of computers is 'required', but there are lots of good reasons to include their use. Using computers to *replace* experiments (i.e. use of simulations) is a different topic, and IMO should be avoided.

3. Oct 30, 2014

### George Jones

Staff Emeritus
At my university, about half the first-year lab include computers, and about half the labs don't use computers. As Andy says, computers are great for data acquisition and analysis, but computers, and the probes that connect to computers, sometimes make experiments seem like black boxes. Hence, I think it is important, particularly for introductory labs, for students to perform experiments, where, e.g., they time oscillations of springs or pendula manually with stopwatches or cell phone timers.

4. Oct 30, 2014

### Dorea

Indeed, I'm willing to know how they are connected and which program is runned?!
Can you remember for which experiment they use computer and how? Is there any lab booklet for you laboratories?

Oops, we're currently working on Ardoino and its sensors to automate counting oscillations and times, specially for pendulum and springs!