A new method of measuring gravitational acceleration in an undergraduate laboratory program

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Journal Article
European Journal of Physics, 2018, 39 (1)
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© 2017 European Physical Society. This paper presents a high accuracy method to measure gravitational acceleration in an undergraduate laboratory program. The experiment is based on water in a cylindrical vessel rotating about its vertical axis at a constant speed. The water surface forms a paraboloid whose focal length is related to rotational period and gravitational acceleration. This experimental setup avoids classical source errors in determining the local value of gravitational acceleration, so prevalent in the common simple pendulum and inclined plane experiments. The presented method combines multiple physics concepts such as kinematics, classical mechanics and geometric optics, offering the opportunity for lateral as well as project-based learning.
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