MEASUREMENT



Measurement seems like a simple subject, on the surface at least; indeed, all measurements can be reduced to just two components: number and unit. Yet one might easily ask, "What numbers, and what units?"—a question that helps bring into focus the complexities involved in designating measurements. As it turns out, some forms of numbers are more useful for rendering values than others; hence the importance of significant figures and scientific notation in measurements. The same goes for units. First, one has to determine what is being measured: mass, length, or some other property (such as volume) that is ultimately derived from mass and length. Indeed, the process of learning how to measure reveals not only a fundamental component of chemistry, but an underlying—if arbitrary and manmade—order in the quantifiable world.

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