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Copyright © 2007 jsd

1  Review of Barton & Black

Title:AN INTRODUCTION TO PRACTICAL PHYSICS
 FOR COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS
Author:Edwin Henry Barton
Author:T. P. Black
Publisher: Edward Arnold % Co. (2nd ed. 1922) URL:http://www.archive.org/details/introductiontopr00bartuoft

This book covers what we would nowadays call "experimental physics"; it does not have much to do with the application of physics to everyday situations.

The book is organized into 120 experiments for the student to do.

If nothing else, it is worth reading the table of contents (which gives the names of the experiments), since that gives an idea of what people thought "physics" was back then. For example, compare the number of experiments dealing with "density" to the number dealing with "polarization".

I’m not suggesting that teachers or students would benefit much by close reading of this book ... but it may be amusing to quickly flip through the book. For me, the main impression is that back then, they had to do things the hard way. For example, there is an experiment "To find the relation between the current in a galvanometer and the deflection of its needle, since the two are not usually proportional." Contrast that with the present day, when you can buy a nice 19-range digital multimeter for $20.00 retail.

It is also remarkable how the book treats units. Of course the importance of units is recognized, but when formulas are written, the units are usually specified in the text near the formula, not as part of the formula; for example in experiment 103 one sees the expression:

C = 
W2 − W1 
60t × 0.000329
             (1)

The sense of the equation is OK because the surrounding text is careful to state that W2 and W1 are in grams, t is in minutes, and C is in amperes. But the style of writing the equation does not conform to modern standards for units and dimensions. You wouldn’t have an easy time applying the factor-label method to this equation.

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Copyright © 2007 jsd