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PHYSICS 71

Chapter 1 Units, Physical Quantities, and Vectors

01 Units and
Physical Quantities
National Institute of Physics
College of Science
University of the Philippines Diliman
Objectives
• Describe what physical quantities are.
• Convert quantities into different units.
• Recognize the importance of significant figures.
• Express quantities in scientific notation.
• Justify the dimensional consistency of a relation.

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The Nature of Physics
MATTER
PHENOMENA & PRINCIPLES &
EXPERIMENTS THEORIES
ENERGY
• Physics is an experimental science in which physicists
seek patterns that relate the phenomena of nature.
• The patterns are called physical theories.
• A very well established or widely used theory is called a
physical law or principle.

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• φύσις phúsis nature
• A fundamental science
• experiments/phenomena ⟺ theories/principles

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Physical Quantity
• A physical quantity is any number that is used to
describe a physical phenomenon.
• Example:

Time 60 seconds
Length 1.0 meter
Mass 50 kilograms

F = 30 N

(physical quantity) (magnitude) (standard)

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Fundamental Units
• International system (SI or the “metric” system)
• Repeatability of measurements
• Table 1. SI Base Units
Quantity Name of Unit Symbol
Length meter m
Mass kilogram kg
Time second s
Electric current ampere A
Thermodynamic temperature kelvin K
Amount of substance mole mol
Luminous intensity candela cd

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SI Units

1 second for each 9,192,631,770 cycles

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SI Units

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The big picture

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SI Units

International standard kilogram

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Dimensional Consistency
• An equation must be dimensionally consistent. Terms
to be added or equated must always have the same
units.
• Be sure you’re adding “apples to apples.”
[kg] ≠ [m]
Mass ≠ Length

• Example: distance = velocity*time


v = [?]
velocity = acceleration*time
a = [?]

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Dimensional Analysis
• Dimensional analysis can be used to:
• check if the equation is dimensionally correct
• know the units or the dimension of a physical quantity

• Check/simplify the dimension of the LHS and RHS of the


equation

• Area of a circle = 2πr ? Check for dimensions!

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Dimensional Analysis
• Example: Check whether each of the following equations
is dimensionally correct:
1.

2.

3.

where:
s = [length] m = [mass]
v = [length/time] t = [time]
a = [length/time2]

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Dimensional Analysis
1.
LHS: [length]
RHS: [length/time] ∙ [time] = [length]

2.
LHS: [length/time] ✘
RHS: [mass] + [length/time2] ∙ [length]

3.
LHS: [length] ✓
RHS: [length/time] ∙ [time] + [length/time2] ∙ [time2]
[length] + [length]

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Conversion of Units
• Example: 18 years ⇒ ? seconds

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Significant Figures and Scientific Notation
• Final answers should be expressed with number of
significant figures of the given quantities.
• Example:

2 s.f.

5 s.f.
3 s.f.

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Uncertainty & Significant Figures
Consider the following:
• When measuring the thickness of a cardboard, you write
3 mm, NOT 3.00 mm
• A fish/meat vendor does not say, “meat is 2.41735 kg”

What is the difference between accuracy and precision?

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Accuracy vs Precision

http://cdn.antarcticglaciers.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/precision_accuracy.png

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Accuracies / Uncertainties
Some representations of measurement uncertainty
• 56.47 ± 0.02 mm (absolute uncertainty)
• 56.47(2) mm
• 56.47 mm ± 0.04% (relative uncertainty)

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Significant Figures
Sometimes, uncertainties are not specified. The uncertainty
is indicated instead by the number of meaningful digits or
significant figures.

2.91 mm → 3 significant figures


The last digit is in the hundredths place
Uncertainty is about 0.01 mm

137 km → 3 significant figures


Uncertainty is about 1 km

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Significant Figures
Example
How many significant figures does each quantity have?
• 12 2
• 120 2
• 12.0 3
• 0.012 2
• 0.0120 3
• 120. 3
• 1.2 x 102 2

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Significant Figures in Operations
• In this course, we usually give quantities with 3 significant
figures.
• However, we have to round, NOT truncate.

525 m / 311 m = 1.688102894


= 1.69

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Significant Figures in Operations
• Multiplication/Division: Significant figures in the results
should equal the number with the fewest significant
figures.
((0.745)(2.2))/3.885
= 0.42

• Addition/Subtraction: The final result is determined by the


number with the largest uncertainty (i.e., with fewest digits
to the right of the decimal point).
27.153 + 138.2 – 11.74
= 153.6 QUIZ

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Attendance Quiz (Bluebook)
AQ # 1
08/09/18 Score: /10
Solution:

Corrected by: Jon Snow

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Quiz (3 minutes)
1. True or False (1 point each)
a.) The number of significant figures can be used to
determine the uncertainty of a measurement.

b.) The SI base unit for mass is the gram.

c.) Addition is NOT allowed between quantities of


different units.

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Quiz (3 minutes)
2. Determine the unit of the quantity C in the equation

where D is in [m] and B is in [m/s]. (2 points)

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Quiz (5 minutes)
3. Convert 2.0 decades to milliseconds. Use 1 year =
365.25 days (4 points).

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Bonus (1 minute)
4. Which is more precise? (1 point)
A. A wall clock that can measure up to seconds.
B. A stopwatch that can measure up to milliseconds.

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Quiz
1. True or False (1 point each)
a.) The number of significant figures can be used to
determine the uncertainty of a measurement.
True

b.) The SI base unit for mass is the gram.


False

c.) Addition is NOT allowed between quantities of


different units.
True

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Quiz
Solution

• Deduce the units of A from D

• Impose dimensional consistency

• Solve for [?]

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Quiz
Solution
3. Convert 2.0 decades to milliseconds. Use 1 year =
365.25 days and 1000 millisecond = 1 second.

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Bonus
Answer
4. Which is more precise?
A. A wall clock that can measure up to seconds.
B. A stopwatch that can measure up to milleseconds.

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Credits/References
• University Physics 13th Ed, H. Young and R. Freedman
Pearson Education 2014
• PowerPoint Lectures for University Physics 13th Ed, Wayne Anderson
Pearson Education 2012
• Physics 71 Lectures by J Vance, A Lacaba, PJ Blancas, G
Pedemonte

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