## Unit Conversion and Dimensional Analysis

Read this text for examples of how to calculate physical quantities and units of measurement.

### Unit Conversion and Dimensional Analysis

It is often necessary to convert from one type of unit to another. For example, if you are reading a European cookbook, some quantities may be expressed in units of liters and you need to convert them to cups. Or, perhaps you are reading walking directions from one location to another and you are interested in how many miles you will be walking. In this case, you will need to convert units of feet to miles.

Let's consider a simple example of how to convert units. Let us say that we want to convert 80 meters (m) to kilometers (km).

The first thing to do is to list the units that you have and the units that you want to convert to. In this case, we have units in meters and we want to convert to kilometers.

Next, we need to determine a conversion factor relating meters to kilometers. A conversion factor is a ratio expressing how many of one unit are equal to another unit. For example, there are 12 inches in 1 foot, 100 centimeters in 1 meter, 60 seconds in 1 minute, and so on. In this case, we know that there are 1,000 meters in 1 kilometer.

Now we can set up our unit conversion. We will write the units that we have and then multiply them by the conversion factor so that the units cancel out, as shown:

Note that the unwanted m unit cancels, leaving only the desired km unit. You can use this method to convert between any types of unit.

**Table 1.3 **Approximate Values of Length, Mass, and Time

#### Nonstandard Units

While there are numerous types of units that we are all familiar with, there are others that are much more obscure. For example, a **firkin **is a unit of volume that was once used to measure beer. One firkin equals about 34 liters.

To learn more about nonstandard units, use a dictionary or encyclopedia to research different "weights and measures". Take note of any unusual units, such as a barleycorn, that are not listed in the text. Think about how the unit is defined and state its relationship to SI units.

Source: Rice University, https://openstax.org/books/college-physics/pages/1-2-physical-quantities-and-units

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