Science: Measurement in Science and Technology: Introduction

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Measurement is a basic skill which forms an essential part of our day to day activities irrespective of what we do. From day to day activity like a buying fruit, vegetables, measuring food for cooking all required measurement. Even if your friends are racing you can tell which one run fastest because of time measurement. Science and technology helps us in making precise measurements for our daily life activities such as stitching, cooking, sports, shopping, travelling etc.

What is Measurement?

  • Thus, we may define measurement to be a counting of the number of times a chosen scale is used.

  • i.e., Measurement, the process of associating numbers with physical quantities and phenomena. Measurement is fundamental to the sciences; to, construction, and other technical fields; and to almost all everyday activities. For that reason, the elements, conditions, limitations, and theoretical foundations of measurement have been much studied.

Example: Suppose you need to weigh a carton full of books; you would use a weighing scale and see how many kilogram weights you need to correctly weigh the carton- again a kind of counting Here measurement is take place using weighing machine.

Why Do We Need to Make a Measurement?

  • The need for measurement is accuracy for any construction or creation.

  • The absence of a suitable measurement may lead to conflicts between them.

  • Measurement is an essential activity in our everyday life.

  • Street vendors make use of measurement while selling fruits in terms kilogram per rate.

  • For measurement we require specific scale which is called unit.

What is a Unit?

  • A unit is a measure, device or a scale in terms of which we make physical measurement. The value of a physical quantity consists of two parts; a numerical quantity and a unit and is equal to their product.

  • Value of physical quantity = numerical quantity x unit

Characteristics of a Unit

  • A unit should be relevant for the quantity being measured.

  • Further, the unit used should be convenient also.

  • In addition to being relevant and convenient a unit should also be well defined i.e. it should be well understood by other people. For example, we may express the distance between my house and a nearby shop as 200 steps.

Ancient Ways of Measurement

Some of these were, digit : the width of a single finger; foot : the length of a foot; cubit: length of an arm; hand span : the distance between the tip of the thumb and the tip of the little finger when the hand is fully stretched out. similarly, fathom meant the distance.

Ancient ways of measurement

Ancient Ways of Measurement

Indian Measurement System

Indian Measurement System in the Ancient Period

the lengths of the shadows of trees or other objects were used to know the approximate time of the day. Long time durations were expressed, Similarly around 2400 years ago during the Chandragupta Maurya period there was a well-defined system of weights and measures. According to this system, the smallest unit of length was 1 Parmanu. Small lengths were measured in angles. For long distances Yojana was used. One Yojana is roughly equal to 10 kilometers.

Indian Measurement System in the Ancient Period
Indian measurement system in the ancient period

8 Parmanu

= 1 Rajahkan (dust particle from the wheel of a chariot)

8 Rajahkans

= 1 Liksha (egg of lice)

8 Likshas

= 1 Yookamadhyas

8 Yookamadhyas

= 1 Yavamadhyas

8 Yavamadhyas

= 1 Angel

8 Angels

= 1 Dhanurmushti

(Reference: Kautilya’s Arthashasthra)

Indian Measurement System in the Medieval Period

In the medieval period also the measurement system was in practice. As described in Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazl-i-Allami, during the period of Moghul Emperor Akbar, the gas was used as the unit of measuring length.

Indian Measurement System During British Period

During this period the inch, foot, and yard were used to measure length whereas grain, ounce, pounds, etc. were used to measure mass.

Indian Measurement System During British Period
Indian measurement system during British period

8 Ratti

1 Masha

12 Masha

1 Tola

5 Tola

1 Chhatank

16 Chhatank

1 Seer

40 Seer

1 Maund

1 Maund

100 Pounds troy (exact)

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