SI base unit

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The SI system of units defines seven SI base units: physical units [[1]]defined by an operational definition [[2]].

All other physical units can be derived from these base units: these are known as SI derived units. Derivation is by dimensional analysis. Use SI prefixes to abbreviate long numbers.

The following are the base units from which all others are derived. They are dimensionally independent, with the exception of the candela. The candela was formerly a fundamental unit but has been redefined in terms of the other SI base units. Despite this, it is still considered a base unit for historical reasons.

SI base units
Name Symbol Measure Definition


Mass The unit of mass is equal to the mass of the international prototype kilogram (a platinum-iridium cylinder) kept at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), Sèvres, Paris (1st CGPM (1889), CR 34-38). Note that the kilogram is the only base unit with a prefix; the gram is defined as a derived unit, equal to 1/1000 of a kilogram; prefixes such as mega are applied to the gram, not the kg; e.g. Gg, not Mkg. It is also the only unit still defined by a physical prototype instead of a measurable natural phenomenon (see the kilogram article for an alternate definition).
second s Time The unit of time is the duration of exactly 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom at a temperature of 0 K (13th CGPM (1967-1968) Resolution 1, CR 103).
metre or meter m Length The unit of length is equal to the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum during the time interval of 1/299 792 458 of a second (17th CGPM (1983) Resolution 1, CR 97).
ampere A Electrical current Electrical current The unit of electrical current is the constant current which, if maintained in two straight parallel conductors, of infinite length and negligible cross-section, placed 1 metre apart in a vacuum, would produce a force between these conductors equal to 2×10 −7 newtons per metre of length (9th CGPM (1948) Resolution 7, CR 70).
kelvin K Thermodynamic temperature The unit of thermodynamic temperature (or absolute temperature) is the fraction 1/273.16 (exactly) of the thermodynamic temperature at the triple point of water (13th CGPM (1967) Resolution 4, CR 104).
mole mol Quantity of matter (mass/mass) A mole is the quantity of substance that contains the same number of elementary entities (atoms, molecules, ions, electrons or particles, depending on the substance) as there are atoms in 0.012 kilograms of pure carbon-12 (14th CGPM (1971) Resolution 3, CR 78). This number (NA) is approximately equal to 6.02214199×1023.
candela cd Luminous intensity The unit of luminous intensity is the luminous intensity, in a given direction, of a source that emits monochromatic radiation of frequency 540×1012 hertz and that has a radiant intensity in that direction of 1/683 watt per steradian (16th CGPM (1979) Resolution 3, CR 100).

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