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UNIT CONVERSION FOR THE SCIENCES

Units of measurement in the sciences use the International System of Units, better known as SI units, which provide a standard for measuring the physical properties of matter. Typical SI units are litres (L), metres (m), and grams (g). When a measurement is excessively high or low in magnitude when expressed as its SI unit, prefixes are often used to denote an order of magnitude to make the number itself more manageable. The following table may be used to convert between common SI prefixes: Prefix mega (M) kilo (k) milli (m) micro () nano (n) pico (p) Scientific Notation 106 103 100 10-3 10-6 10-9 10-12 To convert to SI unit x 1 000 000 x 1 000 1 000 1 000 000 1 000 000 000 1 000 000 000 000 To convert from SI unit 1 000 000 1 000 x 1 000 x 1 000 000 x 1 000 000 000 x 1 000 000 000 000

_______________________________________________________________________ Example: How many microlitres are in 2 millilitres? Solution: This question is asking us to convert millilitres (mL) into microlitres (L). To complete this question, we must first convert 2 mL into SI unit litres (L), and then convert from L into L. To do this, we refer to the prefix column of the table to find the milli prefix and cross over to the To convert to SI unit column to see that in order to convert 2 mL into litres, we divide by 1000 :
2 mL 0.002 L 1000

We then refer to the prefix column of the table to find the micro prefix and cross over to the To convert from SI unit column to see that to convert from 0.002 L into L, we multiply by 1 000 000 :
0.002 L 1 000 000 2 000 L

Therefore, we find that 2 000 L are contained in 2 mL. This volume can also be expressed in scientific notation as 2 x 10-3 L, as seen in the Scientific Notation column of the table, corresponding to the milli prefix.