- #1

Dave Barak

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Atomic weight is calculated using a specific formula. Using this specific formula, we determine that:

Hydrogen has an atomic weight of 1.0079.

Helium has an atomic weight of 4.0026.

The ratio between these two atomic weights is 3.97122730429606 : 1 (or 0.25181132264028).

Now let's say there was a different way of calculating the atomic weight of an element, maybe using something instead of Carbon 12. Maybe we use Carbon 14 instead. That would of course change the numerical expression of the atomic weight.

However, if that were the case, wouldn't the ratio between the two (new) atomic weights for hydrogen and helium be the same? The actual numbers would be different, but the ratio between them would be constant regardless of the formula used or the units of measure.

The reason I ask is that I'm trying to find a way for a fictional extraterrestrial signal to communicate to us various elements. It seems that by using the ratio BETWEEN elements, it wouldn't matter what formula was used or what units of measure were used - the ratio would always be the same if the other fictional formula was used consistently for all elements.

Am I completely off base? Should I re-enroll in high school? : )

Dave