Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Space Measurement
Name: Ashley
Status: student
Age: 12
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999 - 2000


Question:
Why do scientists rarely use miles or kilometers when measuring distance in space? what do they use? thank you please e-mail me back before Friday Oct. 6th :)


Replies:
Scientists choose units of distance, time, and other physical measurements that correspond to a conveniently sized number. In the case of astronomy where objects are separated by great distances, it more convenient to use a light year, the distance light travels in one year.

At the other extreme, scientists may use nano-meters (=meters*10^ -9) because atomic/molecular distances range between tenths to hundreds of nanometers, so it is just simpler than carrying a lot of exponents of 10 around

Vince Calder



Click here to return to the Astronomy Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory