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  • Perform unit conversions both in the SI and English units.
  • Explain the most common prefixes in the SI units and be able to write them in scientific notation.
A view of Earth from the Moon.
The distance from Earth to the Moon may seem immense, but it is just a tiny fraction of the distances from Earth to other celestial bodies. (credit: NASA)

The range of objects and phenomena studied in physics is immense. From the incredibly short lifetime of a nucleus to the age of the Earth, from the tiny sizes of sub-nuclear particles to the vast distance to the edges of the known universe, from the force exerted by a jumping flea to the force between Earth and the Sun, there are enough factors of 10 to challenge the imagination of even the most experienced scientist. Giving numerical values for physical quantities and equations for physical principles allows us to understand nature much more deeply than does qualitative description alone. To comprehend these vast ranges, we must also have accepted units in which to express them. And we shall find that (even in the potentially mundane discussion of meters, kilograms, and seconds) a profound simplicity of nature appears—all physical quantities can be expressed as combinations of only four fundamental physical quantities: length, mass, time, and electric current.

We define a physical quantity    either by specifying how it is measured or by stating how it is calculated from other measurements. For example, we define distance and time by specifying methods for measuring them, whereas we define average speed by stating that it is calculated as distance traveled divided by time of travel.

Measurements of physical quantities are expressed in terms of units    , which are standardized values. For example, the length of a race, which is a physical quantity, can be expressed in units of meters (for sprinters) or kilometers (for distance runners). Without standardized units, it would be extremely difficult for scientists to express and compare measured values in a meaningful way. (See [link] .)

A boy looking at a map and trying to guess distances with unit of length mentioned as cables between two points.
Distances given in unknown units are maddeningly useless.

There are two major systems of units used in the world: SI units    (also known as the metric system) and English units    (also known as the customary or imperial system). English units were historically used in nations once ruled by the British Empire and are still widely used in the United States. Virtually every other country in the world now uses SI units as the standard; the metric system is also the standard system agreed upon by scientists and mathematicians. The acronym “SI” is derived from the French Système International .

Si units: fundamental and derived units

[link] gives the fundamental SI units that are used throughout this textbook. This text uses non-SI units in a few applications where they are in very common use, such as the measurement of blood pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Whenever non-SI units are discussed, they will be tied to SI units through conversions.

Fundamental si units
Length Mass Time Electric Current
meter (m) kilogram (kg) second (s) ampere (A)

Questions & Answers

Why is the sky blue...?
Star Reply
It's filtered light from the 2 forms of radiation emitted from the sun. It's mainly filtered UV rays. There's a theory titled Scatter Theory that covers this topic
Mike
A heating coil of resistance 30π is connected to a 240v supply for 5min to boil a quantity of water in a vessel of heat capacity 200jk. If the initial temperature of water is 20°c and it specific heat capacity is 4200jkgk calculate the mass of water in a vessel
fasawe Reply
A thin equi convex lens is placed on a horizontal plane mirror and a pin held 20 cm vertically above the lens concise in position with its own image the space between the undersurface of d lens and the mirror is filled with water (refractive index =1•33)and then to concise with d image d pin has to
Azummiri Reply
Be raised until its distance from d lens is 27cm find d radius of curvature
Azummiri
what happens when a nuclear bomb and atom bomb bomb explode add the same time near each other
FlAsH Reply
A monkey throws a coconut straight upwards from a coconut tree with a velocity of 10 ms-1. The coconut tree is 30 m high. Calculate the maximum height of the coconut from the top of the coconut tree? Can someone answer my question
Fatinizzah Reply
v2 =u2 - 2gh 02 =10x10 - 2x9.8xh h = 100 ÷ 19.6 answer = 30 - h.
Ramonyai
why is the north side is always referring to n side of magnetic
sam Reply
who is a nurse
Chilekwa Reply
A nurse is a person who takes care of the sick
Bukola
a nurse is also like an assistant to the doctor
Gadjawa
explain me wheatstone bridge
Malik Reply
good app
samuel
Wheatstone bridge is an instrument used to measure an unknown electrical resistance by balancing two legs of a bridge circuit, one leg of which includes the unknown component.
MUHD
Rockwell Software is Rockwell Automation’s "Retro Encabulator". Now, basically the only new principle involved is that instead of power being generated by the relative motion of conductors and fluxes, it’s produced by the modial interaction of magneto-reluctance and capacitive diractance. The origin
Chip
what refractive index
Adjah Reply
write a comprehensive note on primary colours
Harrison Reply
relationship between refractive index, angle of minimum deviation and angle of prism
Harrison
Who knows the formula for binding energy,and what each variable or notation stands for?
Agina Reply
1. A black thermocouple measures the temperature in the chamber with black walls.if the air around the thermocouple is 200 C,the walls are at 1000 C,and the heat transfer constant is 15.compute the temperature gradient
Tikiso Reply
what is the relationship between G and g
Olaiya Reply
G is the u. constant, as g stands for grav, accelerate at a discreet point
Mark
Is that all about it?
Olaiya
pls explain in details
Olaiya
G is a universal constant
Mark
g stands for the gravitational acceleration point. hope this helps you.
Mark
balloon TD is at a gravitational acceleration at a specific point
Mark
I'm sorry this doesn't take dictation very well.
Mark
Can anyone explain the Hooke's law of elasticity?
Olaiya Reply
extension of a spring is proportional to the force applied so long as the force applied does not exceed the springs capacity according to my textbook
Amber
does this help?
Amber
Yes, thanks
Olaiya
so any solid can be compressed how compressed is dependent upon how much force is applied F=deltaL
Amber
sorry, the equation is F=KdeltaL delta is the triangle symbol and L is length so the change in length is proportional to amount of Force applied I believe that is what Hookes law means. anyone catch any mistakes here please correct me :)
Amber
I think it is used only for solids and not liquids, isn't it?
Olaiya
basically as long as you dont exceed the elastic limit the object should return to it original form but if you exceed this limit the object will not return to original shape as it will break
Amber
Thanks for the explanation
Olaiya
yh, liquids don't apply here, that should be viscosity
Chiamaka
hope it helps 😅
Amber
also, an object doesnt have to break necessarily, but it will have a new form :)
Amber
Yes
Olaiya
yeah, I think it is for solids but maybe there is a variation for liquids? that I am not sure of
Amber
ok
Olaiya
good luck!
Amber
Same
Olaiya
aplease i need a help on spcific latent heat of vibrations
Bilgate
specific latent heat of vaporisation
Bilgate
how many kilometers makes a mile
Margaret Reply
about 1.6 kilometres.
Faizyab
near about 1.67 kilometers
Aakash
equal to 1.609344 kilometers.
MUHD

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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