Triple Cylinder

How to determine significant figures while measuring with lab equipment?

How do you know how much significant figures are in the following laboratory equipments?

Or, how many significant figures are needed behind the decimal place? It's thrown me off in chemistry class.

1. Triple beam balance
2. Graduated cylinder
3. Thermometer

A good idea is not read between lines. So the significant figures cannot exceed the resolution (min detectable change versus the value itself. If you measure period of a pendulum as 3.04 sec with a stop watch which can show changes in time only as little as 0.01 sec, then the 3.04 is interpreted as 3.04+/- 0.005 sec. The ratio is 608. Thus frequency = 1/T can be having a significance of only same amount. The inverse is 0.328947, but 1/608 of this is 0.00054. Thus The frequency is
.3289+/- 0.0005. If period had been 0.33sec, interpret it as 0.33+/- 0.005 and ratio being 66, the frequency can be calculated to a significant value of only 3.0303/66 = 0.045. Inverse of 0.33 is 3.0303. So frequency can be expressed as 3.03+/- 0.045.
If thermometer has a graduation of 0.5deg, the significance is limited to indicated temperature
+/- 0.25 deg, (half of min detectable change..). If cylinder reads 3.2 litres and is graduated to 0.1 litre, the value readout is whatever it is +/- 0.05 litre.

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Nice Arctic Cat ZRT 2001 02 Triple Cylinder Engine Head
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