Excel is very useful when solving algebraic equations. The program, however, will not actually perform any algebraic operations; you must supply the proper formula.
Note that the cell containing the formula is highlighted and the equation is also printed and highlighted. With any worksheet that you turn in to be graded, it is important that you highlight and print your formulas so your TA can follow your steps and correct your mistakes. Also be sure to print the gridlines and the Row and Column headings. For information about these and other basic actions, see the previous tutorial.
We can use the work in the above example to determine the number of miles which was run. The conversion factor between meters and miles is 1 mile = 1609.3 meters. Therefore using this conversion and the result from cell D2 in the above example, we can find the distance traveled in miles. The screen shot below shows the formula used:
To determine the distance traveled if you ran, say, 12.5 laps, all you need to do is change the contents of cell A2 from 6 to 12.5 and the distance is automatically recalculated for you! There is no need to alter any of your formulas!
Say we are given the quadratic equation, , and we wish to find both of its solutions. We can use Excel to help us do this and the screen shot below shows how that is done. (The spaces within the formula were added to make the formula easier to read.)
Of course, to solve another quadratic equation, all one needs to do is change the values of the constants a, b and c in cells A1, B1 and C1. There is no need to alter the formula and the new result is given immediately after the new values are entered! Are you beginning to see how Excel can make your physics laboratory experience a more enjoyable one? If not, please tell me ()why.
In the above example, we used the number 3.14159 to represent the constant p. Excel has a builtin constant, PI( ), which returns the value for p when used in an Excel formula. Therefore, the equation for the radius in the above example can be rewritten as shown below:
Either method is fine to use. Some prefer to use the numerical value and some prefer to use the builtin constant. The choice is yours.
Finally, let's say, that we know the volumes of four other spheres and we would like to determine the radii of these spheres. We could simply change the value of cell A2 in the above examples and determine the radius of each sphere one at a time. Or we could type new formulas for each sphere. However the best (and fastest) way to determine the radii of the remaining spheres is to use the copy and paste functions that we learned of in the previous tutorial.


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