Dimensional analysis means to obtain results by analyzing the units in question, etc. DO NOT USE THIS TAG if your question is about degrees of freedom or spatial dimensions.

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5answers
2k views

How to get Planck length

I know that what Planck length equals to. The first question is, how do you get the formula $$\ell_P~=~\sqrt\frac{\hbar G}{c^3}$$ that describes the Planck length? The second question is, will any ...
11
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5answers
842 views

units and nature

I am wondering whether the five$^1$ units of the natural unit system really is dictated by nature, or invented to satisfy the limited mind of man? Is the number of linearly independent units a ...
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11answers
6k views

What is the logarithm of a kilometer? Is it a dimensionless number?

In log-plots a quantity is plotted on a logarithmic scale. This got me thinking about what the logarithm of a unit actually is. Suppose I have something with length $L = 1 km$. $\lg L = \lg km$ It ...
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2answers
1k views

Square bracket notation for dimensions and units: usage and conventions

One of the most useful tools in dimensional analysis is the use of square brackets around some physical quantity $q$ to denote its dimension as $$[q].$$ However, the precise meaning of this symbol ...
4
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5answers
978 views

Can Planck's constant be derived from Maxwell's equations?

Can mathematics (including statistics, dynamical systems,...) combined with classical electromagnetism (using only the constants appearing in chargefree Maxwell equations) be used to derive the Planck ...
11
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4answers
288 views

Why isn't it $E \approx 27.642 \times mc^2$?

Sorry for the strange question, but why is it that many of the most important physical equations don't have ugly numbers (i.e., "arbitrary" irrational factors) to line up both sides? Why can so many ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Why are smaller animals stronger than larger ones, when considered relative to their body weight?

I am interested in why many small animals such as ants can lift many times their own weight, yet we don't see any large animals capable of such a feat. It has been suggested to me that this is due to ...
1
vote
3answers
704 views

Frequency of small oscillation of particle under gravity constrained to move in curve $y=ax^4$

How to find the frequency of small oscillation of a particle under gravity that moves along curve $y = a x^4$ where $y$ is vertical height and $(a>0)$ is constant? I tried comparing $V(x) = \frac ...
7
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5answers
342 views

Is the number 1 a unit?

In dimensionless analysis, coefficients of quantities which have the same unit for numerator and denominator are said to be dimensionless. I feel the word dimensionless is actually wrong and should be ...
5
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1answer
309 views

Deriving or justifying fundamental constants

Is there a fundamental way to look at the universal constants ? can their orders of magnitude be explained from a general points of view like stability, causality, information theory, uncertainty? ...
4
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2answers
2k views

What does the Reynolds Number of a flow represent physically?

What does the Reynolds Number of a flow represent physically? I am having trouble understanding the meaning and the utility of the Reynolds number for a certain flow, could someone please tell me how ...
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3answers
748 views

What is the meaning of speed of light $c$ in $E=mc^2$?

$E=mc^2$ is the famous mass-energy equation of Albert Einstein. I know that it tells that mass can be converted to energy and vice versa. I know that $E$ is energy, $m$ is mass of a matter and $c$ is ...
6
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7answers
1k views

Why are radians more natural than any other angle unit?

I'm convinced that radians are, at the very least, the most convenient unit for angles in mathematics and physics. In addition to this I suspect that they are the most fundamentally natural unit for ...
16
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5answers
2k views

How can the speed of light be a dimensionless constant?

This is a quote from the book A first course in general relativity by Schutz: What we shall now do is adopt a new unit for time, the meter. One meter of time is the time it takes light to travel ...
10
votes
3answers
684 views

How can I understand counterintuitive units like $\text{s}^2$?

One of the things I never understood, but was too afraid to ask is this: how should I think of things like $\frac{\text{kg}}{\text{s}^2}$. What exactly is a square second? Square foot makes sense to ...
6
votes
1answer
144 views

Why is it meaningless to speak about changes in a dimensional constant?

Every so often,* we get a question about what would happen should there be a change in a physical constant that contains dimensional information, such as $\hbar$, $c$, $G$, or often "the scale of the ...
3
votes
1answer
281 views

How is the apparent significance of (length) scales in physics explained?

From what I understand, especially from reading arguments on Physics.SE, different (length) scales of a system are extremely important. It's clear that if there are two scales $\delta,d,D,\Delta$ with ...
2
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2answers
141 views

Confusion With How Dimensions Work

Form what I understand if you have an equation such as: $$v = v_0 + at$$ then the dimensions must match on both sides i.e. $L/T = L/T$ (which is true in this case), but I have seen equations such as ...
2
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1answer
202 views

Functional derivative and units

The both sides of below equation don't give the same units, e.g. $$ \frac{\delta}{\delta \phi (\tau)}\int_a^b \phi (\tau') d\tau'=1\;. $$ where $a<\tau<b$. To show this assume that the field ...
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1answer
53 views

Order of magnitude estimation for some intriguing questions

The physics TA showed us a few examples in which one can estimate many things from first principles and sound logic based and scaling arguments. This led usually to understanding of why some numbers ...
13
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8answers
1k views

In dimensional analysis, why the dimensionless constant is usually of order 1?

Usually in all discussions and arguments of scaling or solving problems using dimensional analysis, the dimensionless constant is indeterminate but it is usually assumed that it is of order 1. What ...
4
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2answers
851 views

What are the units of the quantities in the Einstein field equation?

The Einstein field equations (EFE) may be written in the form: $$R_{\mu\nu}-\frac {1}{2}g_{\mu\nu}R+g_{\mu\nu}\Lambda=\frac {8\pi G}{c^4}T_{\mu\nu}$$ where the units of the gravitational constant $G$ ...
3
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2answers
193 views

Exponential or logarithm of a dimensionful quantity?

I have a unit measure, say, seconds, $s$. Furthermore let's say I have a dimensionful quantity $r$ that is measure in seconds, $s$. What is the unit measure of $e^r$? ($1/r$ is in $Hz$.) My question ...
3
votes
4answers
314 views

How do I go from exponents to a formula?

This is a continuation of this question. http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-01-physics-i-classical-mechanics-fall-1999/video-lectures/lecture-1/ skip this lecture to around 25:50. After doing ...
3
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1answer
350 views

Dimensional Analysis with $\alpha$, $\beta$, and $\gamma$ Powers

In Prof. Walter Lewin's Dimensional Analysis lecture, he stated that: $$t ~\propto~ h^α m^β g^γ$$ ($\alpha$, $\beta$ and $\gamma$ all to some power of their unit). Why does he put $h$, $m$ and $g$ ...
2
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1answer
134 views

How to interpret the appearance of time units in the units of a physical quantity?

Or phrased more abstractly, how to interpret the appearance of time dimension $[time]$ in the dimension of a physical quantity? For example, the dimension of pressure is $[mass] [length]^{-1} ...
0
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1answer
65 views

The position of a particle at any time $t$ is given by $S = V0/a [1-e^{-at}]$. What are the dimensions of $a$ and $V_0$?

To find the dimensions of and V0, I must know the dimension of S and e. So I want to know it.
0
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0answers
29 views

Justifying order of magnitude reasoning

So in the context of a set of notes I am reading about acoustics I get to equation (23) in this paper. Basically it comes down to showing that (note the dots above the a's meaning time derivative!) ...