The fact that all quantities in the universe carry dimensions (such as length, time, mass, temperature, and so forth) seems mundane, but it is actually incredibly powerful. In 1945, the United States detonated its first atomic bomb in the Trinity test at White Sands, New Mexico. The explosive power of the bomb was a closely guarded government secret, but a physicist named G.I. Taylor was able to figure it out from looking at pictures of the blast using dimensional analysis. This made the U.S. government very surprised. And unhappy.
By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
- Distinguish between units and dimensions.
- State the seven primary dimensions and formulate derived dimensions.
- Apply the Buckingham Pi theorem to find dimensionless parameters.
Before class, please:
- Read excerpt from Giordano et al.
- Watch this pencast and this pencast (first ten minutes only).
- Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
In class, we will:
After class, please:
- Do post-class problems.