Physicsconcepts for Math 116
Here are, I think, all the physics concepts we will use in Math 116 this term. I won’t do
them justice, of course; you should take Physics 140 for that.
This is just a vocabulary
cheatsheet.
I’ve included units for all the quantities, in both metric and English flavors.
One of the
best tricks the physicist has is to keep track of the units during a calculation. It’s a great
way to check that your answer makes sense, and it catches a lot of mistakes. It helps a lot
to be familiar with the conversions, especially the metrictometric conversions, like 1 N =
1 kg
·
m/s
2
.
There are, of course, many more units for each quantity. I’ve just given a couple. I recom
mend the site
http://www.onlineconversion.com/
if you want to convert units.
Time
Metric units:
English units:
seconds (s)
seconds (s)
Conversions: None needed
Time you know.
Length or Distance
Metric units:
English units:
meters (m)
feet (ft)
Conversions: 1 m = 3.28 ft, 1 ft = .305 m, 1 in = 2.54 cm
Length you know. One inch is exactly 2.54 centimeters. They redefined the inch to make
that true.
Area
Metric units:
English units:
square meters (m
2
)
square feet (ft
2
)
Conversions: 1 m
2
= 10.8 ft
2
, 1 ft
2
= .0929 m
2
Area you know.
Volume
Metric units:
English units:
cubic meters (m
3
), liter (
ℓ
)
cubic feet (ft
3
)
Conversions: 1 m
3
= 1000
ℓ
, 1 m
3
= 35.3 ft
3
, 1 ft
3
= .0283 m
3
Volume you know.
1
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Velocity
Metric units:
English units:
meters per second (m/s)
feet per second (ft/sec)
Conversions: 1 m/s = 3.28 ft/s, 1 ft/s = .305 m/s
Velocity is how fast some length or distance is changing. It’s signed; a positive value means
the length is increasing, a negative value means it’s decreasing.
Acceleration
Metric units:
English units:
meters per second per second (m/s
2
)
feet per second per second (ft/s
2
)
Conversions: 1 m/s
2
= 3.28 ft/s
2
, 1 ft/s
2
= .305 m/s
2
Acceleration is how fast some velocity is changing.
Positive if the velocity is increasing,
negative if it’s decreasing. If an object falls near the Earth, it accelerates at a constant rate
due to gravity. We call this acceleration
g
, and it’s equal to 9.8 m/
s
2
or 32 ft/s
2
.
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 Winter '08
 Conger
 Math, Center Of Mass, Mass, Kilogram, English units

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