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Your science teacher has just asked you to solve some problems using dimensional analysis….OMG! What is dimensional analysis?? …

Your science teacher has just asked you to solve some problems using dimensional analysis….OMG! What is dimensional analysis??

Don't sweat it! Dimensional Analysis (DA) is just a fancy term for converting one unit to another.

You use dimensional analysis in all the sciences from biology to chemistry and physics. You use DA anytime you need to convert one unit to another unit.

Just think "measurements need to have two parts - a number and a unit". For example, if you said "My heart beats 60" that would make no sense! Do you mean 60 beats per second or 60 beats per minute? At 60 beats per second you are probably in good health. But at 60 beats per minute, you could be a very sick person!

That's why measurements in science are composed of two parts - the quantity or numerical part and the dimension. The dimension can be time and distance, length, weight and mass, temperature, area, etc

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  • 1. How to do Dimensional Analysis
    A Refresher Module
  • 2. What is Dimensional Analysis?
    Dimensional analysis is a process that you use to change from one unit to another using conversion factors.
  • 3. Why do you need to do dimensional analysis?
    In science , all measurements require 2 parts:
    A numerical value + units
  • 4. Many times a scientist will have a measurement in one unit but may need to change that measurement into another unit.
  • 5. Therefore we need to figure out some type of relationship that compares their differences ….that is relationship is called a conversion factor.
    A conversion factor is a relationship (a ratio) that sets up relationships between different units
    Unit 1 X conversion factor = Unit 2
    Let’s look at an example…
  • 6. Example 1 converting km to m
    I can convert meters to kilometers by setting up the conversion factor:
    Unit 1 X conversion factor = Unit 2
    1 km X 1000 m/1 km = 1000m
    To convert km into m, we need to remember that there are 1000 m in (or per) 1 km. This is called an equivalence statement.
  • 7. More on Conversion Factors…
    Conversion factors can be thought of as fractions that you use to cancel the unit you don’t want so that you end up with the unit you want.

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