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Appendix 2


A physical quantity is expressed as the product of a Note that these are exact relationships and do not
pure number and a unit. Physical laws which exist vary with location as does g.
between physical quantities are conveniently expressed Conversion of British units to SI units is achieved
in systems of consistent units such that the form of the using the following exact conversion factors:
equation is independent of the system of units chosen. 1 ft = 0.3048 m
Four systems will be listed here, namely the Systeme 1 Ib = 0.45359237 kg
International d’UnitCs (SI); the centimetre, gram,
second system (c.g.s.); the British absolute system Using these values,
based on the foot, pound and second (f.p.s.); and the
British Engineering system based on the foot, slug and lpdl=lIb- =lkg
second (f .s.s.) . S2
In all these systems F = ma and weight W = mg, = 1 kg 0.4536 m 0.3048 s-*
where g is the gravitational field strength. A standard = 0.1383 kg m sK2
value of the field strength at the surface of the earth is = 0.1383 N
given as 9.80665 N/kg (m/s2) or approximately 31.174
ft/s2 or pdUlb or IbUslug.
By definition,
1 slug = 32.174 lb
1 Ibf = 1 - pdl

1 Ibf = 32.174 pdl = 4.448 N
also 1 kgf = 9.80665 N

Table A2.1
Quantity I i$fandsymbol
C.Q.S. f.p.s. f.s.s.

Mass kilogram, kg gram, g pound, Ib slug

Length metre, m centimetre, cm foot, ft foot, ft
Time second, s second, s second, s second, s
Angle radian, rad radian, rad radian, rad radian, rad
Force newton (kg m s-‘), N dyne poundal, pdl pound force, Ibf
I joule (m N), J erg foot poundal, ft pdl foot pound force
Power watt (J s-’),W erg s-l ft pdl s-’ ft Ibf s-l
Pressure pascal (N m-‘), Pa dyne cmP2 pdl ft-* 16f ft-’
Moment of force Nm dyne cm pdl ft Ibf ft
Moment of inertia kg m2 g cm2 Ib ft2 slug ft2
Velocity m s-l crn s-l ft s-1 ft s-’
Acceleration m sP2 crn sP2 ft s-2 ft 5-2
[l micron = 10-6 m, 1 litre = 10-3 rn3, 1 tonne = 1O3 kg, 1 bar = 1O5 Pa]
250 Appendix 2: Units

Similarly for work and energy: unit masses are 386 Ib and 981 kg respectively.
When labelling the axes of graphs or writing the
1ft pdl = 0.042 J
headings for tables of values, the following scheme is
1 ft Ibf = 1.356 J
also 1 h.p. = 550 ft lbf s-l = 745.700 W The approximate value for the density of steel (p) is
7850 kg/m3, so
Other useful conversion factors are
p = 7850 kg m-3
Density 1 Ib K3= 16.0185 kg mP3
= 7.850 x I d kg mP3
Pressure 1 Ibf inp2 = 6894.76 N rn-’ (Pa)
= 7.850 Mg mV3
1 atmosphere (atm) = 1.01325
x I d N m-’ It follows that
Note that in the above calculations the symbol for the P
unit is treated as if it were an ordinary algebraic = 7850
kg m-3
Table A2.2 = 7.850
Factor Prefix Symbol
lo3 kg m-3
tera T P
10‘2 = 7.850
109 gigs G Mg m-3
1 o6 mega M
The practice of heading a list of numbers in the manner
103 kilo k
p lo3 kg m3 leaves a doubt as to whether the I d refers
Id hecto
to the physical quantity or to its unit of measurement.
10’ deca
lo-’ deci
10-2 centi P
10-3 milli m lo3 kg m3 ’
10-6 micro CL
10-9 nano n for example, has no such ambiguity.
10-12 pic0 P
10-15 femto f
1 o-l8 atto a References
For further information, the following booklets should
be consulted:
The use of the prefixes is illustrated by the following: 1. British Standards Institution, BS 5555: 1993 (incor-
O.OOOOO1 m = 1 pm (micron) porating I S 0 IOOO), spec8cution for SI units and
1OOOOOO N = 1 MN (meganewton) recommendations for use of their multiples and of
0.1 m = 100 mm certuin other units.
lo4 N = 10 kN 2. The Symbol Committee of the Royal Society,
Id kg = 1 Mg (not 1 kkg) Quantities, units, and symbols
Other systems of units are still seen in which the use
of a mass unit is avoided by writing m = (W/g) so that
F = ( W / g ) a . Alternatively the acceleration may be
expressed as multiples of g to give F = W ( a / g ) .
The use of variable units of force such as the pound
weight (Ibwt) and the gram weight (gmwt) is now
moribund and must be discouraged. For practical
purposes a force equal to the weight of the unit mass
will often find favour in elementary applications, so the
kilogram force (kgf), or its close equivalent 1 da N,
may continue to be used in non-scientific applications.
Occasionally one sees the use of systems involving
Ibf, in, s; or kgf, cm, s. In these cases the corresponding