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Statics For Dummies by James H. Allen, III, PE, PhD

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Chapter 3. Working with Unit Systems and Constants

As you drive down a road in the United States, you typically see the speed limit displayed in terms of mph, or miles per hour. However, this abbreviation has little or no meaning in many countries; instead, citizens of those countries may refer to speed limits in kph, or kilometers per hour. Both are perfectly acceptable units of measure, but because of local customs and preferences, familiarity with the other system of units may be somewhat lacking (so make sure you're checking the correct dial on your speedometer before you pass a speed trap!).

When working any statics problem, you see that the basic equations and relationships are consistent regardless of the measurement system. However, when you actually put those equations to work, the measurement systems and units play a very important role.

In this chapter, I unravel the two major systems of units and explain each in detail, including proper base units and metric system prefixes. I also provide you with some tips on how to convert between those two systems and conclude by discussing issues to remember regarding numeric computational accuracy. Though this chapter by itself can't get you ready to work a complete problem, it can hopefully give you a better awareness of the unit systems that run throughout statics.

Measuring Up in Statics

Before you start crunching all those ...

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