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Scientific Units - Scientific Units

Teacher/Instructor Matt Jones
Matt Jones

M.Ed., George Washington University
Dept. chair at a high school

Matt is currently the department chair at a high school in San Francisco. In his spare time, Matt enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids.

There are certain unit systems which the scientific community has universally agreed upon. To measure distance in scientific units we use meters (m), to measure mass we use grams (g), to measure volume we use liters (L) and to measure temperature we use either degrees centigrade (C) or degrees Kelvin (K).

Okay now we're going to talk about some of the units that we use in Science to gather information, take measurements and so forth. The unit for time that's a pretty simple one right? The main unit we use is seconds which we'll abbreviate little s, we'll also use minutes of course and hours so those are all things we use everyday pretty straight forward.

Length and distance this is something again we use metric units so we're not using miles and inches and feet we're using the main unit we're going to use is the meter and you can include in that a thousand meters, a kilometer okay one thousandth of a meter, a millimeter and so forth. So there are many units of meter but meter is the main that we're going to use.

For mass we're going to use a unit called the gram and again we often use kilograms to record for example the mass of a human or milligrams to record the amount of Aspirin that's in a little Aspirin capsule. So the gram is the main unit there we're going to abbreviate that little g, meter we're going to abbreviate little m.

The unit for volume is liter the one that you're probably familiar with because you're buying your sodas now in 2 liter volumes right so that's actually capital L the abbreviation for a liter and again milliliters, centiliters, kiloliters and so forth are other forms of the liter.

The unit for temperature, we have 2 that we use, we don't use Fahrenheit those are old English units we use Celsius and Celsius is common in Biology because zero Celsius which we abbreviate big C is a point in which water freezes a hundred is the point where water boils so most life tends to live within that zero to a hundred Celsius range. When we get in to Chemistry and Physics though we're actually looking more at matter and properties of matter and we go to the point at which no matter has any energy, no movement and that's zero Kelvin. So Kelvin is another unit we'll use and that's abbreviated big K, 0 Kelvin is basically the point we turn absolute zero.

There are a couple of derive units we use so often times we have one unit divided by another unit and the example of that is density. Density is a mass divided by a volume, so an example there would be grams per milliliter or kilograms per liter okay. Another one we use is speed is a distance over time, so we're going to use distance divided by the time interval so an example of that would be meters per second or kilometers per hour. So these are all of the units we're going to use in Science to again take measurements and record our data.