A set of internationally accepted units to aid in communication of measurements.

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21
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1answer
2k views

Why is the Ampere a base unit and not the Coulomb?

I always thought of current as the time derivative of charge, $\frac{dq}{dt}$. However, I found out recently that it is the Ampere that is the base unit and not the Coulomb. Why is this? It seems to ...
19
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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 ...
17
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8answers
3k views

Is there a symbol for “unitless”?

I'm making a table where columns are labelled with the property and the units it's measured in: Length (m) |||| Force (N) |||| Safety Factor (unitless) ||| etc... I'd like not to write "unitless" ...
12
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4answers
1k views

What's keeping us from simply redefining Avogadro's Number / the Mole as a definite integer?

This might be a question to ask in a Chemistry site, but because there is a lot of talk about redefining many units of measurements in terms of Avogadro's Number / the Mole, I was wondering why we ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Coulomb force in SI and cgs

Coulomb force in SI is $ F = \frac{Q1*Q2}{4\pi\varepsilon R^{2}} $ while in CGS $ F = \frac{Q1*Q2}{R^{2}} $ why is it? I mean doesn't it any make difference in dimension? since $ \varepsilon $ ...
10
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3answers
175 views

$1.7\cdot 10^{-24}$ mole apples a day

As the title suggests I was wondering why the International Bureau of Weights and Measures decided a mole to be a standard (SI-)unit. After some research I found I was not alone with this problem. ...
8
votes
2answers
92 views

Can I use two SI prefexes

Is it ok to say $145\,{\rm k\,MPa}$ for $145\, {\rm GPa}$. We are so used to comparing stresses in ${\rm MPa}$ that I want to keep things relative to this unit. So would it be a no-no to do so.
8
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2answers
641 views

Intuitive meaning of Newton (units)

Is there any intuitive reasoning behind why the units of a "Newton" is $kg \frac{m}{s^{2}}$ and how it represents force? I always wanted to understand why objects of different mass fall at the same ...
7
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5answers
1k views

Is anything actually 1 meter long (or 1kg of weight)?

I believe that no real objects are actually (exactly) 1 meter long, since for something to be 1.00000000... meters long, we would have to have the ability to measure with infinite precision. ...
7
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5answers
512 views

Why were the SI base quantities chosen as such?

The reasons for choosing length, mass, time, temperature, and amount as base quantities look (at least to me) obvious. What I'm puzzling about is why current (as opposed to resistance, electromotive ...
7
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5answers
675 views

Whats the range of dimension exponents in the SI Units system?

I am working on a software library for Units of Measure. To represent dimensions, I need to know the required range of exponents for each of the seven base units (precisely, I need to know the ...
7
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1answer
92 views

How is a standard unit divided into equally smaller or fractional units physically/experimentally?

Consider the standard unit of length: meter. How was it divided into decimeter, centimeter, millimeter, etc. when there were no shorter lengths than the standard? What is the physical/experimental ...
5
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3answers
365 views

Why didn't we replace our SI units with a better system? [closed]

Intro It seems to me that the SI units we use today are nothing but the result of a historical 'coincidence'. I recently began researching about natural (absolute) systems of units, which are ...
5
votes
1answer
595 views

“Natural units” of mass

Gravitational attraction is given by $\frac{GMm}{r^2}$ while attraction due to electric charge is given by $\frac{q_1 q_2}{r^2}$. Why does gravity need a constant while electric charge doesn't? ...
5
votes
3answers
511 views

Why do we still not have an exact definition for a kilogram?

I read that there is an effort to define a kilogram in terms that can exactly be reproduced in a lab. Why has it taken so long to get this done? It seems this would be fairly important. Edit Today I ...
5
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3answers
357 views

What is a “measure equation” as mentioned by this TeX Users Group guide?

In this TeX Users Group (TUG) document, Typesetting mathematics for science and technology according to ISO 31/XI by Claudio Beccari, the author makes various typesetting recommendations including: ...
5
votes
1answer
151 views

Does the Kelvin have a rigorous definition?

From Wikipedia: The kelvin is defined as the fraction 1⁄273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water. That presupposes that we can take a fraction of temperature. Now, ...
5
votes
1answer
694 views

The origin of femto, atto and zepto SI prefixes

Do you know why the SI prefixes: femto, atto, zepto have been accepted by Scientific Community, if this triad of metric units, is neither greek nor latin?
4
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3answers
975 views

How to write units?

In a scientific article, should I write "3m", "3 m", "3 meters", or "3 [meters]" ?
4
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1answer
389 views

$E^2 = (mc^2)^2 + (pc)^2$: What units are used to measure $E$, $m$, $c$ and $p$?

\begin{equation} E^2 = (mc^2)^2 + (pc)^2 \end{equation} If I am using this equation to figure out the energy of something, what units would I use? Would it be the metric system? I.e. kilograms ...
4
votes
1answer
682 views

How would I explain a farad being a second per ohm?

The farad has many alternative representations in SI. I can comprehend some of them. For example, a capacitance of 1 farad means that it will take a single coulomb to create a single volt between the ...
4
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1answer
278 views

Avogadro's number

Could I get an explanation of Avogadro's number and how it relates to determining the mass of a substance? My chemistry textbook only serves to confuse me and the Wikipedia article is aimed towards a ...
3
votes
8answers
802 views

Why does Coulomb's constant have units?

I think of Coulomb's constant as a conversion factor (not sure if this is correct). Kind of like how you would do calculations in kg and then times it by the conversion constant to convert your answer ...
3
votes
2answers
333 views

Uncertainty of permittivity of vacuum [duplicate]

Question: The value of permittivity of vacuum, $\epsilon_0$, is given with absolutely no uncertainty in NIST Why is this the case? More details: The permeability of vacuum can be given by ...
3
votes
4answers
896 views

Definition of Ohm in SI basic units in words

One way Wikipedia defines Ohm is (this is also teached in school): $$1\Omega =1{\dfrac {{\mbox{V}}}{{\mbox{A}}}}$$ They describe this definition in words, too: The ohm is defined as a resistance ...
3
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1answer
533 views

Do the trigonometric functions preserve units?

I saw an exercise where you had to calculate the units of $C_i, i=1,2$ from an equation like this: $v^2=2\cdot C_1x$ and $x=C_1\cdot \cos(C_2\cdot t)$ where $x$ means meters, $t$ means seconds ...
3
votes
1answer
389 views

How large is the information collected from an inverse femtobarn of collisions?

I ran into this while looking at measures of humongous amounts of data. How does the information (data) collected in an inverse femtobarn exposure compare to a gigabyte of data ?
3
votes
1answer
110 views

Is there any literature that compares the candle-power to the candela?

I am unable to find anything in the literature to back up the claim that appears all over the internet that: ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

what is an inverse femto barn?

I came across the use of the unit barn and inverse barn while reading about the operation of LHC. What is an inverse femtobarn ? What does it tell about the experiment being described ?
3
votes
1answer
529 views

Conversion from natural units to SI

I got questions about converting units from natural system of units to SI. To be exact, I'm solving the problem in Heisenber interpretation of quantum mechanics, and I'm using Heisenberg equation of ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Relating milliampere-hours to watt-hours for batteries

I've seen many batteries that are measured in milliampere hours (mAh), while others are measured in watt hours (wh). How can I convert them between each other so that I can actually compare them? It's ...
3
votes
1answer
172 views

There are plans to develop a better definition of a “second”. How does the current definition fall short?

The current definition of a second is stated here and I found a presentation on the BIPM site which discusses plans to change to a "better" definition of a second. You can find the presentation here. ...
3
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0answers
43 views

Does the definition of the SI unit “second” require that possible perturbation of primary frequency standards should be measured?

The definition of the SI unit "second" is stated as The second is the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground ...
2
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5answers
476 views

Does this statement make any sense?

I am asking this question completely out of curiosity. The other day, my roommate, by mistake, used 'Light year' as a unit of time instead of distance. When I corrected him (pedantic, much), he said ...
2
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2answers
697 views

Fundamental units

Is it right that all units in physics can be defined in terms of only mass, length and time? Why is it so? Is there some principle that explains it or is it just observational fact?
2
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1answer
96 views

Why is charge not taken as a fundamental unit? [duplicate]

According to the definition of electric current, it appears to be a derived quantity. Charge on the other hand seems more fundamental than electric current. Then why is current taken as fundamental ...
2
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1answer
84 views

Is Sound Considered a Subtopic of Physics? What are the SI Units of Sound?

Does physics cover sound? If so, why does sound not have units in the SI system, or how would we measure sounds and frequency? I guess it's debatable, but why isn't it standard practice in physics?
2
votes
2answers
901 views

Why metric system uses kilogram as a basic SI unit?

SI system uses all (that I know) measurement basic units as 1 (single) instance: meter, second, ampere, etc, except the KILOgram. It already defined with 1000 multiplier (kilo). It prevents from ...
2
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2answers
133 views

Asymmetric uncertainties

Inspired by these two question on tex.SX Asymmetrical tolerancing Asymmetric uncertainties with siunitx package I'd like to ask for a nice explanation for these kind of uncertainties, like ...
2
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1answer
69 views

Are there reasons for the discrepancies in absolute temp units - Kelvin vs. kelvins vs. degrees Kelvin?

Before 1968, the units for absolute temperature were described as "degrees Kelvin" or "degrees absolute." After that, the SI system got rid of the idea of "degree" for absolute temperature, so the ...
2
votes
1answer
58 views

Is there a name for a quantity that represents (volumetric) flow per unit of mass?

In a lot of medical literature about blood flow in the brain, researchers denote the amount of volumetric blood flow that passes through a certain amount of brain tissue as "cerebral blood flow". ...
2
votes
3answers
528 views

Light emission spectrum units

Do someone knows the units of the spectra provided here ? It seems obvious enough that it's said nowhere, but even Wikipedia and other sites are quite blurry on this point. So, is it power ($W$), ...
2
votes
2answers
155 views

SI units with more than one prefix in fractions

Is it (in the view of SI) correct to note units with more then one prefix? I discuss this since several months with friends, but we could not find a proper source for our statements yet. Examples for ...
2
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0answers
43 views

Different factors of $4\pi$ and $\epsilon_0$ in Poisson equation [duplicate]

Some authors claim the Poisson equation is $$\nabla^2 \psi = -\dfrac{\rho}{\epsilon\epsilon_0}$$ (e.g. Wikipedia) whereas other ones (e.g. Andelmann) claim it is $$\nabla^2 \psi = ...
2
votes
0answers
38 views

Can a value of “length, in meters” be attributed to a pair of ends which are rigid (but not at rest) to each other? [duplicate]

The definition of the SI base unit "metre" [1] doesn't seem to rule out explicitly that a certain value of "length, in meters" could be attributed to a pair of ends which are rigid to each other, but ...
2
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0answers
67 views

If two ends were a certain “length” apart were they therefore at rest (or at least rigid) to each other? [closed]

Considering the definition of the SI unit of "length" [1] and [2 (" method a.")] I'm missing any requirements about the two "ends" of the required "path travelled by light" being "at rest to each ...
1
vote
2answers
395 views

Why is the second the SI base unit for time?

Specifically, during the moves towards Le Système international d'unités in the 18th and 19th centuries, why didn't anyone attempt to move us away from the definition of there being 24 hours in a day? ...
1
vote
4answers
177 views

Could velocity be taken as fundamental instead of time?

In physics time and length are taken as fundamental in the SI system and, as it seems, in the thinking of physicists. Could one instead take velocity, with c as its unit, together with length as ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

gauss vs mW/cm^2: same thing?

A friend of mine is concerned about electromagnetic field negatively affecting their health and got a "DMF meter" to measure the field strength in their house in units of milliGauss. They are trying ...
1
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2answers
71 views

Why is the Coulomb taken as the unit positve test charge, though $1 C$ charge is a high value? [closed]

Why is the Coulomb taken as the unit positve charge, though $1 C$ charge is a high value?