Universal Gravitational Constant Experiment - EX-5550



In this experiment designed for use with PASCO Capstone software, the attraction between a pair of small tungsten spheres and a pair of larger tungsten spheres is measured by the torsion of a beryllium ribbon. The large spheres are places close to the small spheres and allowed to equilibrate. A laser is reflected from a mirror on the beryllium ribbon and shown on a screen on a wall. The mirror rotates with the ribbon, so the laser reflection on the screen or wall is displaced. The displacement of the laser reflection is measured to find "G".

In PASCO Capstone, a damped sine fit is applied to the data to determine the equilibrium point.

How It Works

For the first time, the measurement of G using the Cavendish Balance can actually be performed in a 3-hour lower division physics laboratory! Data collection is done using a webcam to video two periods of the oscillation for both ball positions in less than 45 minutes. The video data may then be transferred to the lab groups for analysis using the video analysis capabilities of PASCO Capstone. Fitting a damped sine curve tot he video data allows an extremely precise determination of period of oscillation and where the final equilibrium positions would be. When analysis of small effects inherent in the method is included, an accuracy of better than 2% is possible.

  • Additional items needed, but not included: Transparent ruler and Meter Stick PASCO Capstone software