Mass - Units of Mass

Units of Mass

Further information: Orders of magnitude (mass)

In the International System of Units (SI), mass is measured in kilograms (kg). The gram (g) is 1⁄1000 of a kilogram. The gram was first introduced in 1795, with a definition based on the density of water (so that at the temperature of melting ice, one cubic centimeter of water would have a mass of one gram; while the meter at the time was defined as the 10,000,000th part of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole). Since 1889, the kilogram has been defined as the mass of the international prototype kilogram, and as such is independent of the meter, or the properties of water. In October 2011, the 24th General Conference on Weights and Measures resolved to "take note of the intention" to redefine the kilogram in terms of the Planck constant, scheduled for 2014.

Other units are accepted for use in SI:

  • The tonne (t) is equal to 1000 kg.
  • The electronvolt (eV) is primarily a unit of energy, but because of the mass–energy equivalence it can also function as a unit of mass. In this context it is denoted eV/c2, or simply as eV. The electronvolt is common in particle physics.
  • The atomic mass unit (u) is defined so that a single carbon-12 atom has a mass of 12 u; 1 u is approximately 1.66×10−27 kg. The atomic mass unit is convenient for expressing the masses of atoms and molecules.

Outside the SI system, a variety of different mass units are used, depending on context, such as the slug (sl), the pound (lb), the Planck mass (mP), and the solar mass.

In normal situations, the weight of an object is proportional to its mass, which usually makes it unproblematic to use the same unit for both concepts. However, the distinction between mass and weight becomes important for measurements with a precision better than a few percent (because of slight differences in the strength of the Earth's gravitational field at different places), and for places far from the surface of the Earth, such as in space or on other planets.

A mass can sometimes be expressed in terms of length. The mass of a very small particle may be identified with its inverse Compton wavelength (1 cm−1 ≈ 3.52×10−41 kg). The mass of a very large star or black hole may be identified with its Schwarzschild radius (1 cm ≈ 6.73×1024 kg).

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Other articles related to "units of mass, unit, mass, units":

History Of Measurement - History of Units - Units of Mass
... The grain was the earliest unit of mass and is the smallest unit in the apothecary, avoirdupois, Tower, and troy systems ... The early unit was a grain of wheat or barleycorn used to weigh the precious metals silver and gold ... Larger units preserved in stone standards were developed that were used as both units of mass and of monetary currency ...

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    Adolf Hitler (1889–1945)

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