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Homework Help: What is magnitude?

  1. Aug 29, 2012 #1
    Alright, I was reading this thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=239733

    And I read somewhere that temperature is a scalar quantity with magnitude.
    But in the thread above, a poster said that a magnitude is always zero or positive.
    But then again... temperature can also be negative.
    So, how can temperature be a scalar quantity and have a magnitude if it's -30F?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2012 #2

    Doc Al

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    Staff: Mentor

    In general, a scalar is a quantity that can be represented by a single number with units (no direction). It can certainly be negative.

    The magnitude of a vector is the length of the vector, which can only be positive.
  4. Aug 29, 2012 #3
    Temperature can only be negative if you use a useless unit of measure, anyway.

    You can not have negative kelvins because the kelvin scale makes sense. The celsius scale works, but its values are based on something subjective that humans decided and not something with any real physical meaning.
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