Archimedes revisited: a faster, better, cheaper method of accurately measuring the volume of small objects

Hughes, Stephen W. (2005) Archimedes revisited: a faster, better, cheaper method of accurately measuring the volume of small objects. Physics Education, 40(5), pp. 468-474.

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A little-known method of measuring the volume of small objects based on Archimedes principle is described, which involves suspending an object in a water-filled container placed on electronic scales. The suspension technique is a variation on the hydrostatic weighing technique used for measuring volume. The suspension method was compared with two other traditional water displacement methods of measuring volume – i.e. placing an object in a measuring cylinder and recording the rise in the water level and immersing the object in a water-filled container with an overflow spout to record the volume of overflow. The accuracy and precision of the three methods was compared using 10 accurately machined PVC cylinders ranging in volume from 1.5 to 15.7 ml. The mean difference between the actual and measured volumes was 3.3 +/- 7.3%, -1.6 +/- 7.2% and 0.03 +/- 0.45%, for the level, overflow and suspension methods respectively. Each measurement was repeated twice to obtain the reproducibility of the three displacement techniques. The reproducibility was –1.7 +/- 8.5%, 0.09 +/- 3% and –0.04 +/- 0.43% for the level, overflow and suspension techniques respectively. The results show that the suspension technique is more accurate and precise than the traditional water displacement methods and is more accurate than measuring volume using Vernier calliper measurements.

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ID Code: 19356
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Archimedes, volume, water displacement, weighing
DOI: 10.1088/0031-9120/40/5/008
ISSN: 0031-9120
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Educational Technology and Computing (130306)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHYSICAL SCIENCES (020000) > OTHER PHYSICAL SCIENCES (029900) > Synchrotrons; Accelerators; Instruments and Techniques (029904)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > School of Physical & Chemical Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 Institute of Physics Publishing
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 31 Mar 2009 23:55
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:16

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