Metric System
Up Conduct/notebook Report Format Metric System Solution Calculations Standards Internet

Contacts: Dr. Victor de Leon (Hostos), Dr, Joseph Rachlin (Lehman), Dr. Mark Steinberg (City College)



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The metric system is the international decimal system (S.I.) of weights  and measures based upon the meter (length) and the kilogram (mass). The system is devised so that liter of pure water at standard conditions has a mass of one kilogram, or one milliliter of water has a mass of one gram. Additionally, one cubic centimeter of water equals one milliliter. 

One should be able to instantly convert from one unit within the system to another. For example, How many L are in 1.5 ml? How many mg is 0.020 grams? etc.

Learn to reproduce the following tables:




Unit Abbreviation Equivalent to: Exponential notation Number in a meter
meter m 1 m 100 1
kilometer km 1000 m 103 0.001
centimeter cm 0.01 m 10-2 100
millimeter mm 0.001 m 10-3 1000
micrometer m 0.000001 m 10-6 1,000,000
nanometer nm 0.000000001m 10-9 1,000,000,000
Angstrom* 0.0000000001 10-10 10,000,000,000

* Although it is a useful unit for measuring inter-atomic distances, the Angstrom is not an official unit of the metric system. 


Unit Abbreviation Equivalent to Exponential notation Number in a gram
kilogram kg 1000g 103 0.001
gram g 1g 100 1
milligram mg 0.001g 10-3 1000
microgram g 0.000001g 10-6 1,000,000
nanogram ng 0.000000001g 10-9 1,000,000,000
picogram pg 0.000000000001g 10-12 1,000,000,000,000
femtogram fg 0.000000000000001g 10-15 1,000,000,000,000,000


Unit Abbreviation Equivalent to: Exponential notation Number in a liter
liter L 1 100 1
deciliter dl 0.01 L 10-2 10
milliliter ml 0.001 L 10-3 1000
microliter l 0.000001 L 10-6 1,000,000
nanoliter nl 0.000000001 L 10-9 1,000,000,000
picoliter pl 0.000000000001 L 10-12 1,000,000,000,000
femtoliter fl 0.000000000000001 L 10-15 1,000,000,000,000,000