Quantifying Measurement: The Tyranny of Numbers

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Quantifying Measurement: The Tyranny of Numbers Author: Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: Morgan & Claypool Publishers Pages: 132 Language: English ISBN: 9781681744322 Categories: ,

Measurements and experiments are made each and every day, in fields as disparate as particle physics, chemistry, economics and medicine, but have you ever wondered why it is that a particular experiment has been designed to be the way it is. Indeed, how do you design an experiment to measure something whose value is unknown, and what should your considerations be on deciding whether an experiment has yielded the sought after, or indeed any useful result? These are old questions, and they are the reason behind this volume. We will explore the origins of the methods of data analysis that are today routinely applied to all measurements, but which were unknown before the mid-19th Century. Anyone who is interested in the relationship between the precision and accuracy of measurements will find this volume useful. Whether you are a physicist, a chemist, a social scientist, or a student studying one of these subjects, you will discover that the basis of measurement is the struggle to identify the needle of useful data hidden in the haystack of obscuring background noise.

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Author Biography

Jeffrey Huw Williams was born in Swansea, Wales, on 13 April 1956, he gained his PhD in chemical physics from Cambridge University in 1981. His career has been in the physical sciences. First, as a research scientist in the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and Illinois, and subsequently as a physicist at the Institute Laue-Langevin, Grenoble, one of the world's leading centres for research involving neutrons and neutron scattering. Jeffrey Williams has published more than sixty technical papers and invited review articles in the peer-reviewed literature. However, he left research in 1992 and moved to the world of science publishing and the communication of science by becoming the European editor for the physical sciences for the AAAS's Science. Subsequently, he was the Assistant Executive Secretary of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the agency responsible for the advancement of chemistry through international collaboration. Most recently, 2003-2008, he was the head of publications at the Bureau international des poids et mesures (BIPM), Sevres. The BIPM is charged by the Metre Convention of 1875 with ensuring world-wide uniformity of measurements and their traceability to the International System of Units (SI). It was during these years at the BIPM that he became interested in, and familiar with the origin of the Metric System, its subsequent evolution into the SI, and the coming transformation into the Quantum-SI.Since retiring, Williams has devoted himself to writing; in 2014 he published Defining and Measuring Nature: The make of all things in the IOP Concise Physics series. This publication outlined the coming changes to the definitions of several of the base units of the SI, and the evolution of the SI into the Quantum-SI. Last year Williams published Order from Force: A natural history of the vacuum in the IOP Concise Physics series. This title looks primarily at intermolecular forces, but also explores how ordered structures, whether they are galaxies or crystalline solids, arise via the application of a force.