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Help understanding metric units

  1. Nov 29, 2013 #1
    Hi all

    Firstly this is not a homework question. I just found myself wondering what certain numbers meant while at work and realised that i didnt actually know hence the posting.

    I was hoping someone could help explain & confirm a couple of things about units.

    1) Given the number 4.172 meters
    I interpret this number at 4 whole meters
    And the 0.172 part I interpret as a portion of a whole meter
    My first question is this; is 0.172 (the fractional part) still in meters or is this in cm?

    2) Assuming that 0.172 is in meter then to understand the 0.172m a little better I have done the following:-

    1 ● 1 / 10 1 / 100 1 / 1000
    0 ● 1 7 2

    I have re-writtern this fractional part as 172/1000

    My understanding at this point is that the denomniator (1000) represents my whole meter and the numerator represents the portion of the whole meter
    Is this correct?

    Attached is a PDF document where i have tried to understand more about units which i was hoping someone could look at.

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    2017 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    If I give you 1/2=0.5 apples, I give you 1/2 of an apple and not 1/2 of [something else].
    If I give you 3.5 apples, I give you 3 apples and 1/2 apple and not 3 apples and 1/2 of [something else].

    It is correct, and you can get the same just with rewriting the numeric value:
    3.172 meters = (3172/1000) meters = (3 + ##\frac{172}{1000}##) meters
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