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3 Waves – Part A “Units”


3.1 use the following units: degree (o), hertz (Hz), metre (m), metre/second (m/s), second (s).

General Ideas…

A physical quantity is something that can be measured. For any measurement, the unit being used must be stated to give an understanding of the scale of the measurement.

For example, distance can be measured in kilometres or in miles. They are similar, but not the same and it is important to identify which was used for the measurement, to know how far the distance actually is.

Système Internationale d’Unités

The units that scientists use all over the world are standardised in the Système Internationale d’Unités – SI units. It is important to remember these six fundamental (or ‘base’) units of measurement:

There are many quantities scientists measure that come from the base units. These derived units are very useful to quote as measurements, but they are not fundamental as they come from fundamental units.

For example, frequency is the number of times something happens per unit of time.

This is a useful quantity, but it is a division into the time unit.

The standard unit for frequency is considering the number ‘per second‘, which is called ‘hertz, Hz’, but this comes from the fundamental unit ‘second‘.

Electric chargecoulombC
Work Done or WorkNm or JW
Gravity or accelerationNkg-1ms-2g or a

Kilogram (kg): the SI unit of mass, equivalent to the international standard kept at Sèvres near Paris (approximately 2.205 lb).

Metre (m): the fundamental unit of length in the metric system, equal to 100 centimetres or approximately 39.37 inches.

Second (s): the SI base unit of time which is used to determine progression of the universe. Defined from a complex atomic transition or as a division of an Earth day.

Degree (°): this is a way to measure an angle. With 360° in a circle (same as 2p radians) we can use this to measure angles from the normal from a surface to explain wave behaviours

Speed: the rate at which someone or something moves or operates or is able to move or operate in m/s or ms-1

Frequency:  This is a useful quantity, but it is a division into the time unit. The standard unit for frequency is considering the number ‘per second‘, which is called ‘hertz, Hz’, but this comes from the fundamental unit ‘second‘.

Period: T or time for 1 whole cycle of a wave measured in s or hours etc..


Use this PowerPoint for a quick review… 3 Waves Part A Units


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