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

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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 ...
18
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11answers
5k 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 ...
18
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6answers
2k views

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
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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
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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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5answers
792 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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7answers
912 views

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
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3answers
615 views

Understanding counterintuitive units like s^2

One of the things I never understood but was too afraid to ask is this: how should I think of things like kg/s^2. What exactly is a square second? Square foot makes sense to me because I can see it, ...
8
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4answers
756 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 $k$ ...
8
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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
285 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 ...
7
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5answers
325 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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5answers
637 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
433 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
2k 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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5answers
973 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. ...
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
662 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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2answers
274 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
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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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1answer
79 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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7answers
510 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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2answers
354 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
230 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
298 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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3answers
200 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 ...
5
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2answers
220 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
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2answers
274 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
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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?
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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
683 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
631 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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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
206 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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1answer
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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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1answer
357 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
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2answers
186 views

Integrating equations with units

I was looking through an old copy of Barron's AP Physics and found this problem relating to impulse which I was initially confused about how to integrate. Example 6.1 During a collision with a ...
4
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1answer
132 views

Official definition of astronomical units

As it is relatively easy to find an official value for a large number of physical constants, (thanks to CODATA), it is not so easy for some units widely used in astronomy (Wikipedia, Google and IAU ...
4
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2answers
76 views

Does physics have some division schema which divide physical amounts into these two classes?

Does physics have some division schema which divide amounts into these two classes? : A) amounts which can be counted by natural numbers (for example many units can be counted by number of ...
4
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3answers
173 views

What is the missing proportionality constant in the magnetic levitation formula?

The formula for magnetic levitation is $$ B \frac{dB}{dz} = \frac{ \rho g }{\chi} $$ but as always, I have a hard time figuring the units in SI. The left hand side is $\mathrm{T^2 /m}$, while $\chi$ ...
4
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3answers
279 views

Physical interpretation of describing mass in units of length

I'm working in Taylor and Wheeler's "Exploring Black Holes" and on p.2-14 they use two honorary constants: Newton's constant divided by the speed of light squared e.g. $G/c^2$ as a term to convert ...
4
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1answer
182 views

Euclidean Geometry in Classical Thought - Realization or Representation?

First post! :] This has been bothering me for a while now: [Taken from John J. Roche's "The Mathematics of Measurement: A Critical History"] When physico-mathematicians in the seventeenth ...
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2answers
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Decibel level addition of multiple noise sources

If I have four computer fans of which each is said to run at 46 dB, and they run close to each other, how loud is the whole system? I somehow recall from my physics course that 10 decibel ...
4
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2answers
247 views

To what extent are quantities fundamental?

Arguably the most well-known and used system of units is the SI-system. It assigns seven units to seven ‘fundamental’ quantities (or dimensions). However, there are other possible options, such as ...
3
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8answers
568 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
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2answers
57 views

Maxwell's Equations: Induction

What is the reason for some writing Faraday's Induction Law as $$ \nabla \times E= -\frac{1}{c}\frac{\partial B}{\partial t} $$ versus $$ \nabla \times E= -\frac{\partial B}{\partial t} ?$$
3
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1answer
446 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 ...