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# JABATAN SAINS GUNAAN PHY130-FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICS I

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CHAPTER 1 SYSTEM OF UNITS

1.0 PHYSICAL QUANTITIES

A physical quantity is a quantity that can be measured, such as time, length,
volume and temperature.

There are two types of physical quantity

(1) Basic quantities

Definition : Quantities that are stand-alone, cannot be defined in
terms of any other quantities.

These quantities are
a) Time.
b) Length
c) Mass
d) Temperature.
e) Electric current
f) Luminous intensity.
g) Amount of substance.

(2) Derived quantities

Definition : Quantities that can be defined in terms of any other
quantities.

Example : Density, area and acceleration.

Lesson outcome
1. Able to define what is a physical quantity.
2. Able to list the basic and derived quantities.
3. Able to derive the units for basic and derived quantities.
4. Able to convert units of physical quantity between SI and non-SI
units.
5. Able to conduct dimensional analysis for basic and derived
quantities.

JABATAN SAINS GUNAAN PHY130-FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICS I
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Example 1.1

Define acceleration and density in terms of the basic quantities.

Time
Length
Time
e Length/Tim

Time
Speed
on Accelerati
2
= = =

3
2
Length
Mass

Length Length
Mass
Length Area
Mass
Volume
Mass
Density
=

= =

1.1 DIMENSIONAL ANALYSIS AND UNIT

The dimension of a quantity is the physical property that the quantity describes.

For basic quantities time, length and mass, their dimensions are time[T],
length[L] and mass[M].

For derived quantities, their dimensions will consist of combinations of these and
other fundamental quantities.

Example 1.2

Determine the dimension of acceleration and force.

2
Time
Length
on Accelerati =

Dimension of acceleration, [A] = [L/T
2
]

| |
2
2
2
Force Mass Acceleration
Length
Mass
Time
L
Dimension of force, F M MLT
T

=
=
(
( = =
(

JABATAN SAINS GUNAAN PHY130-FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICS I
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Example 1.3

Determine the dimension of k in equation Velocity = k(Density)

( )
( )
( )( )
Mass
Length Area
Velocity
Mass
Volume
Velocity
Volume / Mass
Velocity
Density
Velocity
k
Density k Velocity
=
= = =
=

| |
2
1 4 1
L (L )(L)
k M L T
T M

(
( = =
(

1.2 UNIT OF A PHYSICAL QUANTITY

A unit is a scale with which a dimension is measured. For each dimension,
various units can be used.

In science and engineering fields, precise measurement is very important.
Scientists and engineers need definitions of units of measurement that do not
change and that can be duplicated by observers in various locations.

A standard system of units based on the metric system known as the
International System or SI is used where each basic quantity is assigned with a
particular basic unit as shown in Table 1.1 below.

Table 1.1 Fundamental Quantities and Their Units

Quantity Unit Abbreviation
Length Meter m
Time Seconds s
Mass Kilogram kg
Temperature Kelvin K
Electric current Ampere A
Luminous
intensity
Candela cd
Amount of
substance
Mole mol

In the metric system, larger or smaller units for the same physical quantity are
related to the fundamental units by multiples of 10 or 1/10. The names of
these units are derived by adding a prefix to the unit of the physical quantity.
JABATAN SAINS GUNAAN PHY130-FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICS I
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The following Table 1.2 lists the standard SI prefixes with their meaning and
abbreviation.

Table 1.2 Prefixes for powers of ten

Power of ten Prefix Abbreviation
10
-18
Atto a
10
-15
Femto f
10
-12
Pico p
10
-9
Nano n
10
-6
Micro
10
-3
Mili m
10
-2
Centi c
10
3
Kilo k
10
6
Mega M
10
9
Giga G
10
12
Tera T
10
15
Peta P
10
18
Exa E

Example 1.3

Write
i) 1 kilometer in mm, ii) 1 milligram in kg

i) 1 kilometer = 1 km = 10
3
meters = 10
3
(10
3
mm) = 10
6
mm
ii) 1 milligram = 1 mg = (1/10)
3
g = (1/10)
3
(1/10)
3
kg = (1/10)
6
kg

1.3 Unit Consistency and Conversions

We use equations to express relations among physical quantities that are
represented by algebraic symbols. Each algebraic symbol always denotes
both a number and a unit. We can use equality to represent the same
physical quantity when we express it in two different units.

An equation must always be dimensionally consistent.

Two terms may be added or subtracted if they have the same units.

In multiplication or division, units are treated just like algebraic symbols.

JABATAN SAINS GUNAAN PHY130-FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICS I
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Example 1.4

European men in the age group 18 to 21 years have an average height of
5 ft 4 in. (a)What is this height in centimeters? (b)In meters? 1 in = 2.54
cm.

( )
( )
12in
(a)5 ft 5ft 60in
1ft
5ft 4in 64in
2.54cm
In cm, 64in 64in
1in
163cm
| |
= =
|
\ .
=
| |
=
|
\ .
=

Example 1.5

An undergraduate of UiTM rides a motorcycle at 50kmh
-1
. Express this
speed in meters per second and miles per hour. 1.609km = 1 mi.

( )
( )
1 1 1
1 1 1
1000 m 1h
50kmh 50 kmh 13.9 ms
1km 3600 s
1mi
50kmh 50 kmh 31.1mih
1.609 km

| || |
= =
| |
\ .\ .
| |
= =
|
\ .

1.4 Precision and Significant Figure

The precision of a measured value of a physical quantity is reflected in the
number of the significant figure (or significant digit) used in stating the value.

A significant figure is a digit in a number, except the leading zeros are not
significant figures and trailing zeros are significant figures only if so specified.

In calculations with very large or very small numbers, we can show significant
numbers much more easily by using powers-of-ten notation, sometimes called
scientific notation. In this form, the usual practice is to express the quantity as a
number between 1 to 10 multiplied by the appropriate power of ten.

( )
1 m
(b) In meters, 163cm 163cm
100 cm
1.63 m
| |
=
|
\ .
=

JABATAN SAINS GUNAAN PHY130-FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICS I
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Example 1.6

The distance from the earth to the sun is about 149,000,000,000 m.
Rewrite the value in powers-of-ten notation with 3 significant figure.

m 10 49 . 1 m 000 , 00 , 000 , 149
11
=

Example 1.7

Using the Einsteins equation, calculate the energy that correspond to the
mass of an electron if m = 9.11 10
-31
kg and c = 3.00 10
8
ms
-1
. Give

( )( )
2
2
31 8 1
-14 2 2
E mc
9.11 10 kg 3.00 10 ms
8.20 10 kgm s

=
=
=