Challenges of indirect measurement in physics
Direct measurements rely on the five human senses; however, this approach may not always work when exploring forces, fields, or other intangible objects like subatomic particles. Here, the physical senses cannot be relied on. For instance, one cannot see electromagnetic fields directly. However, their effects are an indication that they exist. A case in point is a radio wave; it cannot be measured directly because the five senses cannot perceive it.
We will write a custom Research Paper on The Psychical Sciences’ Procedures specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Physicists have the challenge of isolating the parameter that they want to measure. Sometimes this may not always be possible when several other factors exist at the same time (Kirk, 2013). For instance, Newton came up with a way of measuring the force of gravity (F) acting on an object using his law of universal gravitation. However, the earth’s rotation may affect the outcome of this result. Therefore, one would not just be measuring the parameter F; one would also be measuring the earth’s rotation.
In certain situations, the accuracy of making direct measurements depends on the tools as well as the reliability of the observer. If different results keep manifesting using different tools and observers, then the initial measure may not be correct.
Scientists work around the problem of intangibility by manipulating the phenomena. They analyze how the phenomena behave under certain physical and directly measurable conditions in order to determine whether they follow certain rules (Gauch, 2003). For instance, one can manipulate radio waves to assess whether time, causation, and distance apply to the phenomenon. In order to manipulate the waves, then one must have access to the source or its path of transmission. Therefore, scientists still assess invincible phenomena by measuring the effect of those forces on other directly measurable variables like distance.
Another example of how scientists apply indirect measurements to overcome this hurdle is with regard to the mass of subatomic particles. Since a proton cannot be perceived by the senses, physicists instead place it in a mass spectrometer where an electric field causes it to accelerate. The amount of kinetic energy it possesses is comparative to its mass. A magnetic field measures this momentum owing to its accurate calibration. Therefore, scientists depend on the effect that the intangible object has on well known, easily measurable parameters to determine the measurement.
Physicists work around the problem of uncertainty by making assumptions and approximations. They try to hold certain variables constant by reducing them as much as possible. In these cases, they will set limits and see how their phenomenon of interest behaves (Moustakas, 1994).
Scientists deal with the problem of accuracy in measuring tools by allowing for a margin of error. They also repeat measurements many times using different observers so as to eliminate observer bias. Sometimes a small oversight on the part of the observer could be detected by external parties.
Historically influential tools or techniques
Graphs are some of the most useful tools in the physical sciences. They assist one to establish the relationship between variables by looking at the shape of the graph. One can then work with those lines in order to extrapolate other trends that may be independent of the data collected. Scientists have used this information in the past to discover relationships about various phenomena. They have also made their discoveries easily understandable to those with interest in them. Graphs have enabled people to make sense of numerical information that would have been difficult to understand in non-diagrammatic forms (Hull, 1990).
Another critical tool is the calculator. It has been useful in solving mathematical problems because it assists scientists to get their solutions faster. Furthermore, some digits may be too long or complex to manipulate manually, so a calculator makes it easy to do so. No scientific experiment lacks calculations, so this tool comes in handy. It has assisted individuals in focusing on solving scientific problems rather than the technical or mathematical components of their work.
Exposure to chemicals is one of the health hazards associated with the sciences. Dangerous substances may come into contact with a person’s organs through spillage or leakage. Scientists can protect themselves from this problem through the use of safety goggles, laboratory coats, gloves, closed shoes, and long-sleeved tops.
Advancements in the world of medicine may create drugs that deal with minor issues. This undermines the safety of the global community by creating a drug-dependency culture. Discoveries in nuclear technology may convince governments to use nuclear energy (Gauch, 2003). This may compromise safety in the world if accidents occur in nuclear plants. Alternatively, some research advancements may cause the development of harmful nuclear weapons, which may endanger the lives of innocent parties.
During these kinds of research, extreme caution should be taken before the acceptance of new and dangerous forms of energy. Weapon engineering research should be regulated in order to minimize harm. In the field of medicine, medical professions should familiarise themselves with the research behind a drug and determine whether it is really necessary.
Gauch, H. (2003). Scientific method in practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hull, D. (1990). Science as a process: An evolutionary account of the social and conceptual development of science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Kirk, R. (2013). Experimental design. NY: Sage.
Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. NY: Sage.