The following is an excerpt from my physics lab book. Needless to say, it was a long day in the lab.
Errors in our Calculations:
...Clearly, friction played a large role in our >75%<< error in our calculations, but the force of friction alone cannot affect much more than 5% of the experimental results. After pondering other things that might have also affected the experiment, I came up with a couple things:
1) Measurement of pi. We only used pi to 2 decimal places (3.14157 would have given more accurate results)
2) The moon's gravitational effect. We didn't take into effect the gravitational effect of the moon orbiting the earth. If it can cause tides, it can affect our experiment.
3) The book is wrong. Who knows? Newton lived a long time ago, before the Internet, and before highly sensitive electrical equipment. Perhaps all the equations we used are outdated and inaccurate. I will write a letter to the publisher immediately when I can confirm this.
4) Gravitational pull caused by us. My lab partner and I both exert a very tiny, but significant, gravitational attraction. This could have effected the pendulum in many ways, especially since we were moving around a lot.
5) Inaccurate measurement of weight. We never actually weighed the pendulum. We just used the value in the book.
6) Accumulation of dust. During the course of the experiment, I noticed dust accumulating on the bob of the pendulum. Oh, wait, frequency of a pendulum has nothing to do with mass. Forget 5 and 6.
Well, seriously, these other potential pitfalls are still very insignificant, so that leaves me with only one conclusion:
My lab partner screwed up.
I take no responsibility for these errors, because I put faith in my lab partner that he would solve the equations accurately. In the past, we have experienced problems with his inability to punch numbers into his calculator in the correct order. I also noticed him furtively peeking over on the other lab tables. Pardon my frankness, but this guy is not very bright, and I don't know how I got stuck with him. I probably should just double check his work, but I'm sure he would be insulted and create a scene. I've had problems with him in the past, and if the sole vindicator of our inaccurate lab data is, in fact, my lab partner, this would explain the last three labs, which, as you may recall, had errors similar in scope.