2. Units of Measurements

Standard Units (SI Units)

The International System of Units (abbreviated SIis the metric system used in science, industry, and medicine.

The Need for a Common Language

Every field of science involves taking measurements, understanding them, and communicating them to others. In other words, we all have to speak the same basic language. Whether you are a chemist, a physicist, a biologist, an engineer, or even a medical doctor, you need a consistent way of communicating size, mass, shape, temperature, time, amount, energy, power, and speed.

Consider the screen on which you’re reading this text right now. It might be an LCD screen, which is made up of liquid crystals. The chemist developing a specific formulation for a liquid crystal has to meaningfully communicate information to an engineer so that the engineer knows how to manufacture it. The engineer, in turn has to be able to communicate with other engineers, physicists, and chemists to design the circuit boards, display screens, and electronic interfaces of the rest of the computer. If these people don’t all speak the same language, the enterprise will never get off the ground.

The International System of Units (abbreviated SI, from the French Système international d’unités) is the metric system used in science, industry, and medicineDepending on your age and geographic location, you might be very familiar with the “imperial” system, which includes units such as gallons, feet, miles, and pounds. The imperial system is used for “everyday” measurements in a few places, such as the United States. But in most of the world (including Europe) and in all scientific circles, the SI system is in common use.

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