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Chapter 2: Metric system,

conversion and uncertainty of

Apply the concepts of accuracy and
Apply the concept of significant figures
Apply appropriate units to describe the
Use the unit factor method to carry out
conversions among units
New vocabulary
Exponential notation (decimal notation)
Exact number
Significant figures (SF)
Addition, substraction, multiplication
and division (+,-, x, :)

Exponential (scientific)
When dealing with very large and very
small numbers (give Ex.)
E.g. Avagadro number = ?
1.6605 * 10
g is ? (1 amu)
In the exponential notation, place one
nonzero digit to the left of the decimal
0.000348 = 3.48 X 10
Two kinds of numbers (GC 21)
Numbers obtained by counting or from
definitions are exact numbers (give ex.)
Exact number may be thought of as
containing an infinite number of significant
Numbers obtained from measurements
are not exact. There is some
uncertainty (doubts) in all
measurements. Every measurement
involves an estimation (next example)
12.5 cm
The last digit, 5, is a best estimate and is therefore doubtful
The smallest divisions (calibration lines) on the ruler are 1 cm. An attempt
to measure 0.1 cm (1 mm) requires estimation
Different people measure the same length of the object will probably not give
the same result.
12 13
Uncertainty in Measurement
Accuracy: How close you are to the true
Precision: How close your values are to
one another (internal consistency)
Ideally, all measurements should be
both accurate and precise
Measurements are frequently repeated
to improve accuracy and precision
Description of precision and
Significant figures (SF)
Are digits believed to be correct by the
person who makes measurement.
In the above example, because the
person making the measurement is not
certain that the last digit,5, is correct, it
would be meaningless to report the
length of the object as 12.54 cm
Simple rules govern the use of
significant figures
1. Nonzero digits are always significant
2. Zeroes are sometimes significant, and
sometimes they are not (ex. a, b, c)
3. Exact numbers can be considered as
having unlimited number of significant
figures. We do not apply the rules of
significant figures to them

1) 38.57 mL
2) a)zeroes at the beginning of a number
are never significant: 0.052 g
b) zeroes between nonzero digits are
always significant: 6.08 km
c) zeroes at the end of a number that
contains a decimal point are always
significant: 38.0 cm

Rules of rounding off
When the number to be dropped < 5, the
preceding number is left unchanged (e.g.,
6.54 rounds to 6.5)
When it is > 5, the preceding number is
increased by 1 (e.g., 8.48 rounds to 8.5)
When the number to be dropped is 5, the
preceding number is set to nearest even
number (e.g., 7.45 rounds to 7.4, and 7.35
rounds to 7.4) (intended to reduce the
accumulation of errors)
Significant figures (Addition
and Substraction)
In addition and substraction, the last digit
retained in the sum or difference is
determined by the position of the first
doubtful digit
Example: (a) Add 37.24 mL and 10.3 mL;
(b) Substract 21.2342 g from 27.87 g
Which digit is the first doubtful digit ?
Multiplication and division
In multiplication and division, an
answer contains no more significant
figures than the least number of
significant figures used in the
Example: What is the area of a
rectangle 1.23 cm wide and 12.34

Significant Figures and
Calculations (Summary)
Value is expressed in proper
exponential notation
All of the figures in the pre-exponential
value are significant (SF), the last digit
being the least significant figure (LSF)
Do not round off your answer until the
very end of that problem.
The seven fundamental units
of measurement (SI)
Physical property (GC 17)
Length (m)
Mass (kg)
Time (s)
Electric current (A)
Temperature (K)
Luminous intensity (candela-cd)
Amount of substance (mol)
Common prefixes used in the
mega M 10

kilo k 10
deci d 10
centi c -10
milli m 10
micro - - 10
nano n 10
pico p 10
English system of measurement
12 inches (in) = 1 foot (ft)
3 feet = 1 yard (yd)
5280 feet = 1 mile (mi)
16 ounces (oz) = 1 pound (lb)
2000 lb = 1 ton
3 teaspoons (tsp) = 1 tablespoon (tbsp)
16 tbsp = 1 cup (c)
8 ounces (oz) = 1 c
2 c = 1 pint (pt)
2 pt = 1 quart (qt)
4 qt = 1 gallon (gal)

Unit factor
The units must always accompany the
numeric value of a measuremet
Unit factors can be constructed from any two
terms that describe the same or equivalent
amounts of whatever we may consider
1 ft = 12 in.
In English system, there are many unit
1 yd/3 ft; 1 yd/36 in.; 4 qt/ 1 gal, 1 mi/ 5280 ft;
2000 lb/ 1 ton

Exercise 1
Express the following exponentials as
ordinary numbers:
(a) 5.06 x 10
, (b) 4.0010 x 10
(c)16.10 x 10
, (d) 0.206 x 10
, (e)
9.000 x 10
, (f) 9.000 x 10

Exercise 2
For each of the following quantities
underline the zeros that are significant
figures, determine the number
significant figures in the quantity, and
rewrite the quantity using scientific
notation. (a) 423.06 mL; (b)
0.0001073040 g; (c) 1,081.02 pounds
Exercise 3
A box is 252.56 cm wide, 19.23 cm
deep and 6.5 cm tall. Calculate the
volume of the box. (Show your answer
with the correct number of significant

Exercise 4
Express (a) 1.00 cubic foot in units of
liters (b) 1.00 liter in units of pints (c)
miles per gallon in kilometers per liter
What is the mass of a rectangular piece
copper 24.4 x 11.4 x 7.9 cm ? The
density of copper is 8.92 g/cm
Vinegar has a density of 1.0056 g/cm
What is the mass of 3 L of vinegar
Specific heat
The specific heat of a substance is the
amount of heat required to raise the
temperature of 1 g of the substance 1
C with
no change in phase (physical state)
Amount of heat in J
(Mass of substance in g)(temperature change in
Specific heat =