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# Is it possible to calibrate a ruler so accurately that measuring uncertainty is eliminated?

Updated: 12/8/2022

Wiki User

11y ago

Mini RulerHeh, maybe, but you'd need an extremely strong microscope to read it, along with some that could print numbers that small.

Second opinion: The answer is no. There is always some level of uncertainty in any measurement. Even if you could measure down to the atomic scale, there are still sources of error in the measurement.

The other issue is the difference between precision and accuracy. Precision is the ability for you to make the same measurement every time you make it. So for example, if you are measuring the length of an object, assuming that the object does not change length, you measure the same number every time.

Accuracy is the degree to which your measurement reflect the true value.

So lets say you have an object that is 12 inches long. That is it's true value. You grab a ruler and measure it to be 11.96 inches long. There is 0.04 inches of error in your first measurement. You can repeat this measurement and you will not get the same thing every time. So your second measurement results in 11.92 inches, third is 12.03 inches... all very close to the true value, but not EXACTLY 12. If a great number of measurements average out to be 12 inches, then you are using a pretty ACCURATE measuring device. What would happen if you had a device that measured 11 inches EVERY TIME... that would be a case of having a very PRECISE measurement, but not very accurate.

The goal of any measuring device is to be both precise AND accurate... that would be like having a device measure your 12 inch long object to be 11.98,12.02,11.99, etc. Every measurement you make is very close to each other AND to the true value of the object you are measuring.

How do you know the true value?? Ah ha...now you are thinking. You gather the most precise and accurate measuring devices in the world and you take ALOT of measurements. You compare your results to the results from other labs around the world and analyze the data to determine how accurate and precise you can make a measurement. These are usually done to a level of accuracy and precision far beyond anyone's need for any better... in most cases.

Wiki User

11y ago

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