Thursday, February 13, 2014
Measurement Uncertainty in the Real World (of Olympics)
The NYT covers the first tie in an Alpine Olympic event. The times are reported to the hundredths place, but the times are actually recorded with two more digits that were not identical for the two contestants. The tone of the article is almost like it's some conspiracy to cover up the last two digits...taking it on faith that a device which is ostensibly accurate to the ten-thousandths of a second will yield a measurement with that same accuracy despite all that is involved. It would have been nice to have a more informed discussion of why measurement uncertainty isn't so simple...perhaps elsewhere such a discussion occurs. I need to remind my students of this example.