Science, Tech, Math › Science Physical Constants, Prefixes, and Conversion Factors Look Up Useful Constants and Conversions Share Flipboard Email Print Cultura RM Exclusive/Matt Lincoln/Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate by Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. Updated November 04, 2019 Here are some useful physical constants, conversion factors, and unit prefixes. They are used in many calculations in chemistry, as well as in physics and other sciences. Useful Constants A physical constant is also known as a universal constant or a fundamental constant. It is a quantity that has a constant value in nature. Some constants have units, while others do not. While the physical value of a constant does not depend on its units, obviously changing the units is associated with a numerical change. For example, the speed of light is a constant, but it is expressed as a different number in meters per second compared to miles per hour. Acceleration of Gravity 9.806 m/s2 Avogadro's Number 6.022 x 1023 Electronic Charge 1.602 x 10-19 C Faraday Constant 9.6485 x 104 J/V Gas Constant 0.08206 L·atm/(mol·K)8.314 J/(mol·K)8.314 x 107 g·cm2/(s2·mol·K) Planck's Constant 6.626 x 10-34 J·s Speed of Light 2.998 x 108 m/s p 3.14159 e 2.718 ln x 2.3026 log x 2.3026 R 19.14 J/(mol·K) 2.3026 RT (at 25°C) 5.708 kJ/mol Common Conversion Factors A conversion factor is a quantity used to convert between one unit and another via multiplication (or division). A conversion factor changes the units of a measurement without changing its value. The number of significant digits in a conversion factor may affect the conversion in some cases. Quantity SI Unit Other Unit Conversion Factor Energy joule calorieerg 1 cal = 4.184 J1 erg = 10-7 J Force newton dyne 1 dyn = 10-5 N Length metre or meter ångström 1 Å = 10-10 m = 10-8 cm = 10-1 nm Mass kilogram pound 1 lb = 0.453592 kg Pressure pascal baratmospheremm Hglb/in2 1 bar = 105 Pa1 atm = 1.01325 x 105 Pa1 mm Hg = 133.322 Pa1 lb/in2 = 6894.8 Pa Temperature kelvin CelsiusFahrenheit 1°C = 1 K1°F = 5/9 K Volume cubic metre litregallon (U.S.)gallon (U.K.)cubic inch 1 L = 1 dm3 = 10-3 m31 gal (U.S.) = 3.7854 x 10-3 m31 gal (U.K.) = 4.5641 x 10-3 m31 in3 = 1.6387 x 10-6 m3 While a student should learn how to perform unit conversions, in the modern world there are accurate online unit converters in all the search engines. SI Unit Prefixes Metric system or SI units are based on factors of ten. However, most units prefixes with names are 1000 times apart. The exception are near the base unit (centi-, deci-, deca-, hecto-). Usually, a measurement is reported using a unit with one of these prefixes. It's a good idea to become comfortable converting between factors as they are used in all scientific disciplines. Factors Prefix Symbol 1024 yotta Y 1021 zetta Z 1018 exa E 1015 peta P 1012 tera T 199 giga G 106 mega M 103 kilo k 102 hecto h 101 deca da 10-1 deci d 10-2 centi c 10-3 milli m 10-6 micro µ 10-9 nano n 10-12 pico p 10-15 femto f 10-18 atto a The ascending prefixes (e.g., tera, peta, exa) are derived from Greek prefixes. Within 1000 factors of a base unit, there are prefixes for each factor of 10. The exception is 1010, which is used in distance measurements for the angstom..Beyond this, factors of 1000 are used. Very large or very small measurements are usually expressed using scientific notation. A unit prefix is applied with the word for a unit, while its symbol is applied together with a unit's symbol. For example, it is correct to cite a value in units of either kilograms or kg, but it is incorrect to give the value as kilog or kgrams. Sources Cox, Arthur N., ed. (2000). Allen's Astrophysical Quantities (4th ed.). New York: AIP Press / Springer. ISBN 0387987460.Eddington, A.S. (1956). "The Constants of Nature". In J.R. Newman (ed.). The World of Mathematics. 2. Simon & Schuster. pp. 1074–1093."International System of Units (SI): Prefixes for binary multiples." The NIST Reference on Constants, Units, and Uncertainty. National Institute of Science and Technology.Mohr, Peter J.; Taylor, Barry N.; Newell, David B. (2008). "CODATA Recommended Values of the Fundamental Physical Constants: 2006." Reviews of Modern Physics. 80 (2): 633–730.Standard for the Use of the International System of Units (SI): The Modern Metric System IEEE/ASTM SI 10-1997. (1997). New York and West Conshohocken, PA: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and American Society for Testing and Materials. Tables A.1 through A.5. Continue Reading How to Do Chemistry Unit Conversions What a Conversion Factor Is and How to Use It Handy Table of Common Fundamental Physical Constants List of Important Physical Constants Measurement Definition in Science Learn the Metric Unit Prefixes What Is a Gram in Chemistry? How to Convert mbar to atm Pressures How to Convert Liters to Milliliters Do You Understand the Metric System of Measurement and Units? How the Angstrom Came to Be a Unit in Physics and Chemistry What Is the Kelvin Temperature Scale? How to Understand the International System of Measurement (SI) Practice Converting Cubic Inches to Cubic Centimeters Calculate Mass from Density with this Example Problem What Is Radioactivity?