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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

what is a wave
Williams Reply
wave means. A field of study
aondohemba
what are Atoms
aondohemba
is the movement back and front or up and down
sani
how ?
aondohemba
wave is a disturbance that transfers energy through matter or space with little or no associated mass.
lots
A wave is a motion of particles in disturbed medium that carry energy from one midium to another
conist
an atom is the smallest unit( particle) of an element that bares it's chemical properties
conist
what is electromagnetic induction?
conist
How is the de Broglie wavelength of electrons related to the quantization of their orbits in atoms and molecules?
Larissa Reply
How do you convert 0.0045kgcm³ to the si unit?
EDYKING Reply
how many state of matter do we really have like I mean... is there any newly discovered state of matter?
Falana Reply
I only know 5: •Solids •Liquids •Gases •Plasma •Bose-Einstein condensate
Thapelo
Alright Thank you
Falana
Which one is the Bose-Einstein
James
can you explain what plasma and the I her one you mentioned
Olatunde
u can say sun or stars are just the state of plasma
Mohit
but the are more than seven
Issa
list it out I wanna know
Cristal
what the meaning of continuum
Akhigbe Reply
What state of matter is fire
Thapelo Reply
fire is not in any state of matter...fire is rather a form of energy produced from an oxidising reaction.
Xenda
Isn`t fire the plasma state of matter?
Walter
all this while I taught it was plasma
Victor
How can you define time?
Thapelo Reply
Time can be defined as a continuous , dynamic , irreversible , unpredictable quantity .
Tanaya
unpredictable? but I can say after one o'clock its going to be two o'clock predictably!
Victor
how can we define vector
mahmud
I would define it as having a magnitude (size)with a direction. An example I can think of is a car traveling at 50m/s (magnitude) going North (direction)
Hanzo
as for me guys u would say time is quantity that measures how long it takes for a specific condition to happen e.g how long it takes for the day to end or how it takes for the travelling car to cover a km.
conist
what is the relativity of physics
Paul Reply
How do you convert 0.0045kgcm³ to the si unit?
flint
What is the formula for motion
Anthony Reply
V=u+at V²=u²-2as
flint
S=ut+½at
flint
they are eqns of linear motion
King
S=Vt
Thapelo
v=u+at s=ut+at^\2 v^=u^+2as where ^=2
King
hi
Mehadi
hello
King
Explain dopplers effect
Jennifer Reply
Not yet learnt
Bob
Explain motion with types
Bob
Acceleration is the change in velocity over time. Given this information, is acceleration a vector or a scalar quantity? Explain.
Alabi Reply
Scalar quantity Because acceleration has only magnitude
Bob
acleration is vectr quatity it is found in a spefied direction and it is product of displcemnt
bhat
its a scalar quantity
Paul
velocity is speed and direction. since velocity is a part of acceleration that makes acceleration a vector quantity. an example of this is centripetal acceleration. when you're moving in a circular patter at a constant speed, you are still accelerating because your direction is constantly changing.
Josh
acceleration is a vector quantity. As explained by Josh Thompson, even in circular motion, bodies undergoing circular motion only accelerate because on the constantly changing direction of their constant speed. also retardation and acceleration are differentiated by virtue of their direction in
fitzgerald
respect to prevailing force
fitzgerald
What is the difference between impulse and momentum?
Manyo
Momentum is the product of the mass of a body and the change in velocity of its motion. ie P=m(v-u)/t (SI unit is kgm/s). it is literally the impact of collision from a moving body. While Impulse is the product of momentum and time. I = Pt (SI unit is kgm) or it is literally the change in momentum
fitzgerald
Or I = m(v-u)
fitzgerald
the tendency of a body to maintain it's inertia motion is called momentum( I believe you know what inertia means) so for a body to be in momentum it will be really hard to stop such body or object..... this is where impulse comes in.. the force applied to stop the momentum of such body is impulse..
Pelumi
Calculation of kinetic and potential energy
dion Reply
K.e=mv² P.e=mgh
Malia
K is actually 1/2 mv^2
Josh
what impulse is given to an a-particle of mass 6.7*10^-27 kg if it is ejected from a stationary nucleus at a speed of 3.2*10^-6ms²? what average force is needed if it is ejected in approximately 10^-8 s?
John
speed=velocity÷time velocity=speed×time=3.2×10^-6×10^-8=32×10^-14m/s impulse [I]=∆momentum[P]=mass×velocity=6.7×10^-27×32×10^-14=214.4×10^-41kg/ms force=impulse÷time=214.4×10^-41÷10^-8=214.4×10^-33N. dats how I solved it.if wrong pls correct me.
Melody
what is sound wave
Nworu Reply
sound wave is a mechanical longitudinal wave that transfers energy from one point to another
Ogor
its a longitudnal wave which is associted wth compresion nad rearfractions
bhat
what is power
PROMISE Reply
it's also a capability to do something or act in a particular way.
Kayode
Newton laws of motion
Mike
power also known as the rate of ability to do work
Slim
power means capabilty to do work p=w/t its unit is watt or j/s it also represents how much work is done fr evry second
bhat
what does fluorine do?
Cheyanne Reply
strengthen and whiten teeth.
Gia

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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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