Units are standards of measurement used for different types of quantities.

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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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9answers
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Why is torque not measured in Joules?

Recently, I was doing my homework and I found out that Torque can be calculated using $\tau = rF$. This means the units of torque are Newton meters. Energy is also measured in Newton meters which are ...
20
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6answers
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Why isn't temperature measured in Joules?

If we set the Boltzmann constant to $1$, then entropy would just be $\ln \Omega$, temperature would be measured in $\text{joules}$ ($\,\text{J}\,$), and average kinetic energy would be an integer ...
18
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3answers
2k views

Fundamental question about dimensional analysis

Let me admit beforehand that this is quite possibly a very stupid question. I was also uncertain of where to post this question, as it doesn't fit cleanly into either physics or math stackexchange. ...
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8answers
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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" ...
17
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9answers
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What exactly is a kilogram-meter?

This question isn't just about kilogram-meters, it's about multiplied units in general. I have a good mental conception of divided units, e.g. meters per second or grams per cubic meter. Meters per ...
16
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3answers
1k views

What is the length of 1 second in meters

If time is treated as a fourth dimension of spacetime, what is relation between length and time units? Or in other words, how can I convert time units to length units, for instance seconds to meters? ...
13
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4answers
1k views

Is the Avogadro's constant equal to one?

Question: Is the Avogadro's constant equal to one? I was tasked with creating a presentation on Avogadro's work, and this is the first time I actually got introduced to the ...
11
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2answers
2k views

Why are magnetic fields so much weaker than electric?

In EM radiation, the magnetic field is $ 3*10^8$ times smaller than the electric field, but is it valid to say it's "weaker". These fields have different units, so I don't think you can compare them, ...
11
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4answers
325 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 ...
11
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5answers
850 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 ...
10
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3answers
691 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 ...
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7answers
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Why is there a factor of $4\pi$ in certain force equations?

I mean to ask why there is $4\pi$ present in force equations governing electricity? Though all objects in universe are not spherical and circular, the constant of proportionality in both equations ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Is 'amp' a technically invalid term?

I've been told to use the term ampere in exams and class (I'm in high school), instead of amp as it's not a valid unit, although I've been using the amp for years along with all of my friends who do ...
8
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4answers
852 views

Simple Harmonic Motion - What are the units for $\omega_0$ ?

I'm trying to understand the units in: $mx''+kx=0$ And the general solution is $x(t)=A \cos(\omega_0 t)+B \sin(\omega_0 t)$ Let $\omega_0 =\sqrt{\frac{k}{m}}$ - the unit for the spring constant $k$ ...
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2answers
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273 + degree Celsius = Kelvin. Why 273?

Temperature conversion: 273 + degree Celsius = Kelvin Actually why is that 273? How does one come up with this? My teacher mentioned Gann's law (not sure if this is the one) but I couldn't find ...
8
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4answers
298 views

Physical representation of volume to surface area

I was looking at this XKCD what-if question (the gas mileage part), and started to wonder about the concept of unit cancellation. If we have a shape and try to figure out the ratio between the volume ...
8
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1answer
94 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 ...
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5answers
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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
348 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 ...
7
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2answers
356 views

Why is the absolute zero a rational number in Celcius?

From the question "Why is the absolute zero -273.15?" I understood that 1°C is the 100th part of the difference of melting and boiling temperature of water (this is my high school physics, maybe there ...
7
votes
2answers
840 views

Having trouble weighing the sun

So I gather the way you (and Vera Rubin) calculate a galaxy's mass is by measuring a star's orbital velocity $v$ and its distance $R$ from the galactic center, and then plugging them into this ...
7
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5answers
682 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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4answers
445 views

How can there be a quantum field theory that predicts all particle masses?

Say I have a theory with only one (energy) scale, e.g. one given by the fundamental constants $$\epsilon=\sqrt{\dfrac{\hbar c^5}{G}}.$$ In this case, where I can't compare to something else, is ...
6
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4answers
3k views

What exactly is a mole?

I have some trouble understanding exactly what a mole represents. As I understand, one unit mole is 1/12 of the mass of an atom of carbon-12 (thus it is the mass of one nucleon?). What is a mole, ...
6
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7answers
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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 ...
6
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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 ...
6
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3answers
446 views

What's the dimensionality of a solid angle?

I haven't seen this explained clearly anywhere. Solid angles are described usually as a fraction of the surface area of a unit sphere, similar to how angles are the fraction of the circumference of a ...
6
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2answers
301 views

Einstein tensor in Friedmann equations : where is the missing $c^2$?

I would like to demonstrate the several forms of the Friedmann equations WITH the $c^2$ factors. Everything is fine ... apart that I have a missing $c^2$ factor somewhere. In all the following $\rho$ ...
6
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1answer
3k views

What are the units or dimensions of the Dirac delta function?

In three dimensions, the Dirac delta function $\delta^3 (\textbf{r}) = \delta(x) \delta(y) \delta(z)$ is defined by the volume integral: $$\int_{\text{all space}} \delta^3 (\textbf{r}) \, dV = ...
6
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3answers
81 views

Units of a discrete Fourier transform

Normally a Fourier transform (FT) of a function of one variable is defined as $$f_k=\int^\infty_{-\infty}f(x)\exp\left(-2\pi i k x\right) dx.$$ This means that $f_k$ gets the units of $f$ times the ...
5
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8answers
566 views

What exactly are we doing when we set $c=1$?

I understand the idea of swapping from unit systems, say from ms$^{-1}$ to kms$^{-1}$, but why can we just delete the units altogether? My question is: what exactly are we doing when we say that ...
5
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3answers
372 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
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2answers
893 views

Is negative 20 psi / 1.5 bar possible?

If I understand correctly, negative pressure usually means relative pressure: the difference between inside and outside. If outside is normal (1 bar, 15 psi, 100 kPa etc), how low can the (relative) ...
5
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1answer
255 views

What are units actually?

This question is about the concept of units in physics. Firstly - do units have a formal mathematical definition? How are they different from pure numbers? Are pure numbers defined to be ratios of ...
5
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3answers
367 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
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2answers
239 views

In what order should unit symbols appear?

I am trying to represent the result of a dimensional analysis calculation and I can't find an official document that lists the order that unit symbols should appear. For example, when I google ...
5
votes
3answers
70 views

Is there a conveniently small unit of volume for talking about molecules?

When discussing energy transformations on the molecular scale, we usually use electronvolts as the energy unit. This is handy because chemical bond energies are a few electronvolts in magnitude. I ...
5
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2answers
314 views

The “official” mass of the sun as unit?

I'm searching for the "official" mass of the sun as a unit in astrophysics. The mass of the sun can be calculated by: $M_{\odot}=\frac{4\pi^2\times(1 \ \text{ua})^3}{G\times(1\ \text{year})^2}$ So ...
4
votes
5answers
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Does the unit of a quantity change if you take square root of it?

For example, I have a mass, m = 0.1kg and I square root it, giving me m = 0.316 (3s.f.) does the unit still stay as kg, or does it change?
4
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the symbol Å?

I saw this symbol like: $$\lambda=3000\overset{\circ}{\text{A}}$$ and I don't know what this means. Is it a frequency? (since $\lambda$ is usually used for frequency)
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votes
3answers
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Why is 1 AU the distance between the Sun and the Earth?

Why 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Sun and the Earth? (approximately if you like to be precise) An astronomical unit (abbreviated as AU, au, a.u., or ua) is a unit of length ...
4
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2answers
904 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 $G$ ...
4
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3answers
729 views

$\hbar$, the angular momentum and the action

Is there anything interesting to say about the fact that $\hbar$, the angular momentum and the action have the same units or is it a pure coincidence?
4
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1answer
6k views

How much is 1 electron-volt (eV)?

I am interested in knowing how much is one eV of energy. Everywhere I found are the technical definitions. Can anybody please tell me how much is this much energy. I need something which I can feel. I ...
4
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10answers
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Addition of different physical quantities

We all know the "apples and oranges" rule which says that it's meaningless to add or subtract two different quantities like apples and oranges. But the same rule doesn't hold for the multiplication ...
4
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3answers
246 views

What is the opposite of the Planck length?

What "large size" unit of length could be considered at the opposite end of spectrum from Planck's length? Is there a table of smallest and largest value for various physical quantities that can be ...
4
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2answers
2k views

Unit of torque with radians?

Usually, the angular frequency $\omega$ is given in $\mathrm{1/s}$. I find it more consistent to give it in $\mathrm{rad/s}$. For the angular momentum $L$ is then given in $\mathrm{rad \cdot kg \cdot ...
4
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4answers
151 views

How accurate are constants in cgs units?

I am just curious that if constants in cgs units change the answer of an equation. For example, Coulomb's constant, in SI units it equals to $8.98...\times 10^9 \,\mathrm{N\,m^2\,C^{-2}}$. However in ...
4
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3answers
385 views

Is speed an intensive property?

I remember being taught in elementary physics that while it makes sense to add volumes, masses, or heat, it makes no sense to add temperatures. As I wanted to use that to illustate some other issue, ...