Lab 1
Metric system and unit converions
This lab is intended as an introduction to a new measurement system, scientific notation, units, and
conversions.
Hopefully upon completion of this lab exercise the foundation of your knowledge of what might be
some alien concepts and principles will be strengthen.
Length in the English and Metric Systems
In most parts of the world and in the sciences the metric system is widely used for measurements.
If you
were born and raised in America, you grew up with the English system of measurement.
If you were
given information of length such as 2 inches, 6.5 feet, 82 yards, 10 miles you would have a general ideal
of the distances these lengths represents. However, if you were given the lengths of 5 centimeter, 2
meters, 75 meters, and 16 kilometers you may have no ideal of what distance they represent, although
each length given in the metric system is approximately the respective length given in the example for
the English system.
Hopefully, upon completion of this lab you will have a better understanding of what
the meter, centimeter, and kilogram represents.
You may ask why bother with the metric system, the English system has suited you just fine up to now.
However, let’s take a critical look at our system of measurement.
There are 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in
a yard, and 5280 feet in a mile, there is no real symmetry to it and it gets worst when dealing with
measurements under an inch, the standard ruler has markings for ½ in. ¼ in 1/8 in, 1/16 in and so on.
If
you had to do calculations you would need to convert to a decimal value then perform the calculation
and then convert back to give values in feet or inches.
This process can become tedious if you have
many calculations to do.
Let’s explore even farther and try to describe the size of a microbe in inches
this obtains a very small fraction of an inch, then if you were to convert to feet for a comparison to the
size of a basketball in feet you would most likely be reaching for a bottle of aspirin before the process