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norazreen@uthm.edu.my [2.A1.1.101]
The objectives of this chapter is to impart students:
With the basic knowledge in measurements and units
With the concept of measurements and units in engineering
After completing this chapter, students should be able to:
 Identify the units of measurement based on SI base units
 Formulate the based units to generate derived units
 Adapt the measurement accurately with its units, scientific notation and
uncertainty depending on the measurement tool used
 Use an accurate measurement in its scientific units’ notation and uncertainty
for any measurement tools
1.1 Measurement, base quantity and derived quantity
1.2 Unit and dimension
1.3 Standard, scientific notation and order of magnitude estimation.
1.4 Conversion of unit, significant figures in addition, subtraction, multiplication,
and division.
The estimation of the magnitude of some attributes of an
object, such as length and weight, relative to a unit of
Physical quantity:
A quantity that can be measured by a scientific instrument.
Example of scientific instruments: meter rule, balance, ammeter,
stopwatch, thermometer etc.
SI Units
Système International / International System of Units
A set of convenient units that have been widely accepted in both
everyday commerce and in science
The modern, revised form of the metric system
Was developed in Paris, 1960 at the 11th General Conference on
Weights and Measures.

Two base unit systems:

Metric system
Imperial system
Metric system comprises of two systems:
Centimetre-gram-second (cgs) system
Meter-kilogram-second (mks) system

Imperial system:
Also known as British Engineering System
Used the units of feet-pound-second (British Units)
Is no longer implemented in most measurement since the use of
SI units.
International System of Units (SI Units):
Standard units used by scientists all over the world
Base quantities:
quantities that cannot be derived.
Also known as fundamental quantities
Base quantity Units
Time Seconds (s)
Mass Kilogram (kg)
Length Meter (m)
Temperature Kelvin (K)
Amount of substance Mole (Mol)
Electric current Ampere (A)
Light intensity Candela (cd)
Derived quantity:
Obtained from the derivation of the base quantity
a combination of two or more base quantities
Derived quantity Name Symbol
Area Square meter m2
Volume Cubic meter m3
Speed, velocity Meter per second ms-1
Acceleration Meter per second square ms-2
Mass density Kilogram per cubic meter kgm-3
Current density Ampere per square meter Am-2
Magnetic field strength Ampere per meter Am-1
Amount of substance Mole per cubic meter Molm-3
Luminance Candela per square meter cdm-2
Example of special names and symbols:

Derived Quantity SI Derived Unit

Name Symbol Expression (other Expression
SI Unit) (in SI Unit)
Frequency Hertz Hz - s-1
Force Newton N - kgms-1
Pressure Pascal Pa Nm-2 kgm-1s-2
Energy, work, heat Joule J Nm kgm2s-2
Power Watt W Js-1 kgm2s-3
Electric charge Coulomb C - sA
Potential difference Volt V WA-1 kgm2s-3A-1
Scientific notation:
A shorter method to express very large or very small numbers
Based on power of the base number 10
123 000 000 000 = 1.23 x 1011

*The number 1.23 = coefficient

1 ≤ coefficient < 10

*The number 1011 = scientific notation raised to a power of 11.

Prefix modifiers of the metric system that are multiples of 10.

Prefix Symbol Factor Numer Factor Word Factor Power

Tera T 1 000 000 000 000 Trillion 1012
Giga G 1 000 000 000 Billion 109
Mega M 1 000 000 Million 106
Kilo k 1 000 Thousand 103
Hecto h 100 Hundred 102
Deca da 10 Ten 101
Deci d 0.1 Tenth 10-1
Centi c 0.01 Hundredth 10-2
Milli M 0.001 Thousandth 10-3
Micro μ 0.000001 Millionth 10-6
Nano n 0.000000001 Billionth 10-9
Pico p 0.000000000001 Trillionth 10-12
Example 1.3:
Write these values into the scientific notation:
a) 7 040 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 kg
b) 0.000 000 000 000 635 m
c) 456 852 569 534 ms-2

a) 7.04x1024kg
b) ?
c) ?
Scalar Quantities:
A quantity that has a magnitude only, no directional component
Example: time, speed, temperature, volume

Vector Quantities:
A quantity that has both magnitude and direction
 Example: distance and displacement
Distance is a scalar quantity that refers to how long is the path taken for
an object to move from its initial position to final position.
Displacement is a vector quantity that refers to how far is the final
position of an object from its initial position.
Dimensions of a physical quantity is associated with combinations
of mass, length, time, electric charge and temperature which
represented by symbols M, L, T, Q and θ respectively, each rose
to rational powers.

A useful way to determine an appropriate unit of a quantity.

Quantity Unit Dimension
Mass kg M
Length m L
Time s T
Electric charge C Q
Temperature K θ
Give the special name for and SI units for the list given

Unit Special name SI Unit

Example 1.1:
State the dimension and unit in SI for speed, v.


Therefore, the unit for speed is meter

per second (ms-1).
Example 1.2:
State the dimension and unit in SI for force, F.


Therefore the unit for force is

kilogram meter per second square
4. Determine whether or not each of the following equation is dimensionally

a) v  at
2x v = velocity
b) t  a = acceleration
a t = time
x = distance
c) v3  2ax 2 F = force
d ) F  mvx m = mass

Given: Quantity Unit Dimension

Mass kg M
Length (distance) m L
Time s T
Example of the dimension of derived quantity:

Derived Quantity Dimension

Volume ?
Energy [M][L]2[T]-2
Power ?
Acceleration [L][T]-2
Pressure ?
Momentum ?
Need to be done in some circumstances e.g. to perform an operation, or to
compare the value of a quantity.
The original measurement must be multiplied with a conversion factor.
Conversion factor: a ratio of units that is equal to unity (1). Example:

1kg 1000 g
1 1
1000 g 1kg

These ratio can be used as conversion factor.

Example 1.4
Write down these quantities in SI units:
a) 40 mg
b) 35 cm2
c) 56 mm3

Significant figures: digits that are meaningful to the accuracy of a number.

 4.68 cm  3 s.f.
 0.002cm  1 s.f.
 0.000122300  6 s.f.

For addition and subtraction operation, the number of s.f. is based on the less
precise quantity.
Example 1.7:
There are three measurements with different precision instrument
and the results obtained are 3.76 cm, 46.855 cm and 0.2 cm.
What are the total measurement?

 0.2
*0.2 cm is the least precise number.
50.815 Therefore the answer is 50.8 cm.
Example 1.8:
The measurement of the length of two different sticks are recorded as 2.32
cm and 4.562 cm. How much is the difference between both sticks?
Ans: 2.24 cm

Example 1.9:
Find the volume of a box which sides has the length of 31.3 cm, 28 cm and
51.58 cm.
Ans: 45205 cm3
1. A paint sprayer can paint a surface at the rate of 6.00 gal/h. Express
this rate in liter per minute (L/min). Given 7.48 gal = 0.0283 m3 and 1
L = 1 x 10-3 m3.

2. An acre is defined such that 640 acre = 1 miles2. How many square
meters (m2) are there in an acre? Given 1 mile = 1609 m.

3. A geologist finds that a rock sample has a volume of 2.4 in3. Express this
volume in cubic centimeters (cm3) and cubic meters (m3). Given 1 in =
2.54 cm.
Seven base physical quantities in physics: time, length, mass, temperature,
amount of substance, electric current and light intensity
Derived quantities: obtained from a combination of two or more of the base
Scalar quantity: has only magnitude
Vector quantity: has both magnitude and direction
Dimensional analysis: to determine appropriate unit
Unit conversion: to define any mks system unit to any system unit e.g. cgs or
Imperial unit
Significant figures: to determine the accuracy of physical measurement