In the SF labs, it works a bit different to JF. This year, you only do 8 experiments, out of a total of 15, plus two computational labs. You first pick your experiment (though often you need to book them a week in advance if you don't want to stuck with the crappy experiments) and they give you a brief explanation of the objectives, and a list of key words. You look up what these words mean/describe, and then tell one of the lab demonstrators. After a quick questions and answers session, the demonstrator will give you the full experiment description which includes more detailed theory, and the method. You then do the experiment, usually over two weeks, though some only take one week, and some may even take three weeks. Then comes the dreaded part... the lab report :(.
The following are the lab reports for the experiments I did as part of SF labs, Physics course 2050, in chronological order. Note that they get a bit better as they go on due to my increased ability at using LaTeX. (In fact, I was so bad at first, that my first report had no graphs, diagrams or formula! The following one still didn't have the graphs, but I eventually got the hang of it. I corrected major errors like that in the following versions)
Fourier Series: This experiment involves singing into the computer :) Basically, using a program called CassyLab you analyse the sine waves and Fourier Transforms of different notes, sounds and electrical signals. 2 weeks. 5/10 (but as I said it had no graphs or formula). Not bad.
Rutherford Scattering: This experiment involves recreating Rutherford's famous Gold Foil Experiment. Basically you turn on a machine and watch it for three hours while taking the odd measurement. A great experiment if you wanna relax and have a chat! 2 weeks. 6/10. Good.
The Geiger Counter: This experiment involves investigating a Geiger counter, and calculating the dead time of the counter, and the half-life of some element. Again, this entails switching on the machine and watching it for three hours taking a measurement exactly every five minutes. 2 weeks. 7/10. Good, you can again have a nice long chat.
Craters of The Moon: This experiment isn't really an ``experiment'' at all. You area given some photos of the moon and have to count as many craters as you can see in the pictures. I would definitely do this experiment. It is without doubt the easiest experiment there is in SF labs. 1 week. 8/10. Great.
The Fresnel Biprism: This experiment wasn't nice. Its in the dark room which may seem exciting, (and again presents the opportunity of lots of chatting since you're left alone) but its not as good as it sounds. Personally I hate optics experiments because all the squinting hurts ones eyes. In this experiment you have to calculate the wavelength of sodium light using a variation on the Young's Slits Experiment that uses a Fresnel Biprism to create two virtual slits. 2 weeks. 7/10. Unpleasant.
The Franck_Hertz Experiment: To investigate the first exication potential energy of gaeous mucury and neon atoms. This experiment could probably be done in one week. 2 weeks. 8/10. Great.
The Ramsauer Townsend Effect: To Investigate Quantum Tunneling. This experiment could probably be done in one week. 2 weeks. 8/10. Great.
RC Filters: 2 weeks. 7/10. Not Bad.
These are the reports for my computational lab sessions. I liked the comp labs. You have no choice in the experiments, but its OK because both experiments are fairly easy. For the first two weeks the demonstrators will teach you basic Linux and C programing, and then you do the experiments over the following four weeks. If you know all your 061 well, and a little bit of 161 (or whatever codes the School of Maths are using these days for JF Practical Computing and Computation respectively) you'll fly through these.
Minimization Problems: This experiment involves finishing off a given C program that solves equations and gives you their roots. You edit it so that it uses the Newton Raphson Method, and then use this to calculate the Bond Length of a Sodium Chloride molecule. 2 weeks. 8/10. Great.
The Non-Linear Pendulum: In this experiment you again improve upon a given C program. You see it to generate data for the position and angular velocity of a non-linear pendulum. You then edit the program again in order to salve both the damped non-linear pendulum and the damped-driven non-linear pendulum respectively. Finally you use all the data to plot many many graphs of the position, angular velocity and phase space of the pendulum using a program called Gnuplot. You get many pretty pictures, including a heart :P. 2 weeks. 8/10. Great.
At the request of the head of the School of Mathematics I have agreed to bring to your attention the following;
"These reports are mine and are not related to the School of Mathematics except in so far as I was a student. However, the School of Physics is very much aware of these reports and will both notice and take action if you copy them. Copying other peoples work and claiming it as your own is called plagiarism and is a serious offence. If you plagiarise your lab report, the School of Physics is very likely to take disciplinary action against you."