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Units and Measurement – INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM OF UNITS

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Units and Measurement – Measurement of any physical quantity involves comparison with a certain basic, arbitrarily chosen, internationally accepted reference standard called unit.

                The units for the fundamental or base quantities are called fundamental or base units. The units of all other physical quantities can be expressed as combinations of the base units. Such units obtained for the derived quantities are called derived units. A complete set of these units, both the base units and derived units, is known as the system of units.

 

THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM OF UNITS

 

                In earlier time scientists of different countries were using different systems of units for measurement. Three such systems, the CGS, the FPS (or British) system and the MKS system were in use extensively till recently.

 

                The base units for length, mass and time in these systems were as follows:

               

  • In CGS system they were centimeter, gram and second respectively.

 

  • In FPS system they were foot, pound and second respectively.

 

  • In MKS system they were meter, kilogram and second respectively.

 

                The system of units which is at present internationally accepted for measurement is the Système Internationale d’ Unites (French for International System of Units), abbreviated as SI. The SI, with standard scheme of symbols, units and abbreviations, was developed and recommended by General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1971 for international usage in scientific, technical, industrial and commercial work.

                Besides the seven base units, there are two more units.

 

SI Base Quantities and Units

 

Base Quantity

SI Units

Name

Symbol

Definition

Length

meter

m

The meter is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second. (1983)

Mass

kilogram

kg

The kilogram is equal to the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram (a platinum-iridium alloy cylinder) kept at international Bureau of Weights and Measures, at Sevres, near Paris, France. (1889)

Time

second

s

The second is the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium-133 atom. (1967)

Electric current

ampere

A

The ampere is that constant current which, if maintained in two straight parallel conductors of infinite length, of negligible circular cross-section, and placed 1 meter apart in vacuum, would produce between these conductors a force equal to 2×10–7 Newton per meter of length. (1948)

Thermo dynamic Temperature

Kelvin

K

The Kelvin is the fraction 1/273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water. (1967)

Amount of substance

mole

mol

The mole is the amount of substance of a system, which contains as many elementary entities as there are atoms in 0.012 kilogram of carbon -12. (1971)

Luminous intensity

candela

cd

 

The candela is the luminous intensity, in a given direction, of a source that emits monochromatic radiation of frequency 540×1012 hertz and that has a radiant intensity in that direction of 1/683 watt per steradian. (1979)

 

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