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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.

August 8, 2018

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.

August 8, 2018

• φύσις phúsis nature

• A fundamental science

• experiments/phenomena ⟺ theories/principles

August 3, 2018 PHYSICS 71 Elementary Physics I 5

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

August 8, 2018

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

August 8, 2018

SI Units

August 8, 2018

SI Units

August 8, 2018

The big picture

August 8, 2018

SI Units

August 8, 2018

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

v = [?]

velocity = acceleration*time

a = [?]

August 8, 2018

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

equation

August 8, 2018

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]

August 8, 2018

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]

August 8, 2018

Conversion of Units

• Example: 18 years ⇒ ? seconds

August 8, 2018

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.

August 8, 2018

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”

August 8, 2018

Accuracy vs Precision

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

August 8, 2018

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)

August 8, 2018

Significant Figures

Sometimes, uncertainties are not specified. The uncertainty

is indicated instead by the number of meaningful digits or

significant figures.

The last digit is in the hundredths place

Uncertainty is about 0.01 mm

Uncertainty is about 1 km

August 8, 2018

August 3, 2018 PHYSICS 71 Elementary Physics I 25

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

August 8, 2018

Significant Figures in Operations

• In this course, we usually give quantities with 3 significant

figures.

• However, we have to round, NOT truncate.

= 1.69

August 8, 2018

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

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

August 8, 2018

Attendance Quiz (Bluebook)

AQ # 1

08/09/18 Score: /10

Solution:

August 8, 2018

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.

different units.

August 8, 2018

Quiz (3 minutes)

2. Determine the unit of the quantity C in the equation

August 8, 2018

Quiz (5 minutes)

3. Convert 2.0 decades to milliseconds. Use 1 year =

365.25 days (4 points).

August 8, 2018

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.

August 8, 2018

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

False

different units.

True

August 8, 2018

Quiz

Solution

August 8, 2018

Quiz

Solution

3. Convert 2.0 decades to milliseconds. Use 1 year =

365.25 days and 1000 millisecond = 1 second.

August 8, 2018

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.

August 8, 2018

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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