The Metric System

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Dozens of measuring units were widely used worldwide by the 18th century. For example, the length was measured in feet, inches, miles, spans, cubits, hands, furlongs, palms, rods, chains, leagues, etc. The absence of common standards has led to considerable confusion and inefficiencies in trade between countries. The French Government at the end of the century tried to lessen this problem by creating a measurement system that can be used worldwide. In 1,790, the French National Assembly commissioned the Academy of Sciences to develop a new decimal system of units; the system they developed is considered as the metric system.


Basics of the Metric System

The simplicity of a metric system is that for each type of quantity measured there is only one unit of measurement. The meter, gram and litre are the three most important basic units in the metric system. The unit length of the meter is equivalent to 3.28 feet; the gram is a unit mass of roughly 0.0022 pounds and the litre is a unit volume that is equal to 1.05 quarts. The unit length of the meter is equivalent to 3.28 feet; the gram is a unit mass of roughly 0.0022 pounds and the litre is a unit volume that is equal to 1.05 quarts. For example, in the Metric system, the Length is often calculated in meters, irrespective of whether the length of your car or the length of River Ganga. 


The biggest number and small numbers are expressed as multiples of ten of the base unit to simplify things. Instead of saying, for example, that the river Ganga is 25,10,000 meters, it is 2,510 thousand-meters long. The prefix 'kilo' (meaning 1,000) would be applied to the base unit's 'meter.' This will give us 2,510 kilometres as the length of the River Ganga. Any base unit may use metric prefixes. One kilometre, for example, is 1000 meters, one kilogram 1,000 grams and one kiloliter is 1,000 litres.


Metric Numbers

We use metric numbers to measure smaller or bigger quantities. They are usually derived from the metric units. 

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  • The figure given illustrates the format of the metric units, which are smaller or larger than the base unit. 

  • Smaller than the base unit is the units to the right side of the base unit. Each unit is 10 times smaller, as we shift to the right. A 'deci' therefore implies 1/10th of the base unit,' centi' is 1/10th of 'deci' or 1/100th of the base unit, and 'milli' is one-tenth of 'centi' or 1/1000th of the base unit.

  • The units are larger than the base unit to the left of the base unit. Each unit is 10 times higher than the unit to the right, as we step to the left. A 'deca' therefore means ten times the base unit,' hecto' means ten times the 'deca' or a hundred times the base unit, and 'kilo' means ten times the 'hecto' or a thousand times the base unit.

Kilo 

Hecto 

Deca 

Base Unit 

Deci 

Centi 

Milli 

1,000 

100 

10 

1/10 

1/100 

1/1,000 


Units for Length, Weight and Capacity in Metric System:

1. Length: Millimeter (mm), Decimeter (dm), Centimeter (cm), Meter (m), and Kilometer (km) are the units of measurements, to measure length, width, and height of an object/anything.

Examples include measuring the length of a wall, the distance between two neighbouring cities, or thickness of doors etc. 


Kilometer 

 (km) 

Hectometer 

 (hm) 

Decameter 

 (dam) 

Meter 

 (m) 

Decimeter 

 (dm) 

Centimeter 

 (cm) 

Millimeter 

 (mm) 

1,000 

100 

10 

1/10 

1/100 

1/1,000 


2. Weight: Gram (g) and Kilogram(kg) are mostly used to quantify how heavy an object/anything is, by using some instruments.

For example, measuring the weight of rice or food supplies.


Kilogram 

 (kg) 

Hectogram 

 (hg) 

Decagram 

 (dag) 

Gram 

 (g) 

Decigram 

 (dg) 

Centigram 

 (cg) 

Milligram 

 (mg) 

1,000 

100 

10 

1/10 

1/100 

1/1,000 


3. Capacity: Milliliter (ml) and Liter (l) are the units which are used to measure the quantity of liquid that an object can hold.

Examples involve measuring the volume of water in a tank.


Kiloliter 

 (kl) 

Hectoliter 

 (hl) 

Decaliter 

 (dal) 

Liter 

 (l) 

Deciliter 

 (dl) 

Centiliter 

 (cl) 

Milliliter 

 (ml) 

1,000 

100 

10 

1/10 

1/100 

1/1,000 


Kilos to Mega Conversion:

k is known for kilos and M for mega.  The formula used to convert kilos to mega is 1 Kilo = 0.001 mega. Or we can say that 1 kilo is 1000 times lower than a mega. 


Mega Kilo Reference Table: 

Abbr.

Prefix name

Decimal size

Size in thousands

Binary approximation

Address variable size

K

kilo-

10³

1,000

1,024 = 2¹⁰

10

M

mega-

10⁶

1,000²

1,024² = 2²⁰

20

G

giga-

10⁹

1,000³

1,024³ = 2³⁰

30

T

tera-

10¹²

1,000⁴

1,024⁴ = 2⁴⁰

40

P

peta

10¹⁵

1,000⁵

1,024⁵ = 2⁵⁰

50

E

exa-

10¹⁸

1,000⁶

1,024⁶ = 2⁶⁰

60

Z

zetta-

10²¹

1,000ٰ⁷

1,024⁷ =  2⁷⁰

70

Y

yotta

10²⁴

1,000⁸

1,024⁸ = 2⁸⁰

80


Solved Examples: 


1. Convert 10 km to m.

Ans: As we know that, 1 km = 1,000 m

Therefore, 10 km = 10 × 1,000 = 10,000 m


2. Convert 200 kg to Milligrams.

Ans: We know that, 

1 kg = 1,000 g

1 g = 1,000 mg 

Let’s first convert the kg into g,

So, 1 kg = 1,000 g

Therefore, 200 kg = 200 × 1,000 g = 2,00,000 g

Now, Let’s convert g to mg:

1 g = 1,000 mg, therefore: 2,00,000 g = 2,00,000 × 1,000 mg = 20,00,00,000 mg


3. Convert 250 ml to Litres.

Ans: We know that, 1 liter = 1,000 ml

Therefore, 500 ml = 500 ÷ 1,000 = 0.5 liter


Some Facts:  

  • 1,000 kilograms is a Tonne. 

  • A mathematician named Gabriel Mouton began the metric system back in 1,670. 

  • The metric system has been called the "International System of Units" or "SI" (from "Système International" in French) since the 1960s. 

  • There are also units bigger than a kilo. These have the Mega, Giga and Tera prefixes. 1,000 times a kilo is a Mega. A giga is 1,000 Mega, and a Tera is 1,000 times of Giga.

Conclusion:  

The standard method of measurement in science is the Metric system. This module explains scientific notation, the history, and basic operations of the Metric system. The module also discusses the simplicity of the metric system, along with a number of prefixes indicating multiples of ten, stems from having only one base unit for each form of the quantity measured (length, volume, and mass).

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Seven Basic Units of Measurement in the Metric System?

Ans: The seven basic units in the SI system are: the meter (m), the kilogram (kg), the second (s), the kelvin (K), the ampere (A), the mole (mol), and the candela (cd).

2. What are Standard Metric Units?

Ans: The current universal standard metric system is the International System of Units (SI Units) which is most commonly used around the world. It is an extension of the MKSA system of Giorgi, with the meter, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, candela and mole as its base units.

3. What are the Six Metric Prefixes?

Ans: In the metric system of measurement, multiple designations and subdivisions of any unit can be accomplished by combining the prefixes such as "deka, hecto, and kilo," meaning 10, 100, and 1,000, and “deci, centi, and milli,” meaning 1/10th, 1/100th, and 1/1000th respectively, with the name of the unit.

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