The Art of Estimation Physics also known as Ph 2239 I. Natural Units Patrick Diamond, George M. Fuller, Tom Murphy Department of Physics, University of California, San Diego Richard Feynman :
use sloppy thinking never attempt a physics problem until you know the answer Natural Units In this system of units there is only one fundamental dimension, energy. This is accomplished by setting Plancks constant, the speed of light, and Boltzmanns constant to unity, i.e.,
By doing this most any quantity can be expressed as powers of energy, because now we easily can arrange for To restore normal units we need only insert appropriate powers of of the fundamental constants above It helps to remember the dimensions of these quantities . . .
for example, picking convenient units (for me! length units Figure of merit for typical visible light wavelength and corresponding energy Boltzmanns constant
from now on measure temperature in energy units for example . . . but I like with Examples: Number Density
e.g., number density of photons in thermal equilibrium at temperature T= 1 MeV stresses e.g., energy density, pressure, shear stress, etc. another example . . . A quantum mechanics text gives the Bohr radius as
But I see this as . . . or whatever units you prefer . . . or maybe even . . . OK, why not use ergs or Joules and centimeters or meters ? You can if you want but . . .
better to be like Hans Bethe and use units scaled to the problem at hand size of a nucleon/nucleus ~ 1 fm energy levels in a nucleus ~ 1 MeV supernova explosion energy
electric charge and potentials/energies one elementary charge One Coulomb falling through a potential difference of 1 Volt = 1 Joule= 107 erg or fine structure constant SI
cgs particle masses, atomic dimensions, etc. electron rest mass proton rest mass neutron-proton mass difference atomic mass unit Avogadros number
Handy Facts: Solar System radius of earths orbit around sun We can do all this for spacetime too ! Define the Planck Mass
. . . and now the Gravitational constant is just . . . The essence of General Relativity: There is no gravitation: in locally inertial coordinate systems, which the Equivalence Principle guarantees are always there, the effects of gravitation are absent! The Einstein Field equations have as there solutions global coordinate systems which cover big patches of spacetime
A convenient coordinate system for weak & static (no time dependence) gravitational fields is given by the following coordinate system/metric: system/metric This would be a decent description of the spacetime geometry and gravitational effects around the earth, the sun, and white dwarf stars, but not near the surfaces of neutron stars.
It turns out that in a weak gravitational field the time-time component of the metric is related to the Newtonian gravitational potential by . . . Where the Newtonian gravitational potential is dimensionless !
Characteristic Metric Deviation OBJECT MASS RADIUS Newtonian Gravitational Potential
(solar masses) (cm) earth 3 x 10-6 6.4 x 108
~10-9 sun 1 6.9 x1010
~10-6 ~1 5 x 108 ~10-4 white
dwarf neutron star ~1 10 6
~0.1 to 0.2 Handy Facts: the Universe Rates and Cross Sections Eddington Luminosity
Photon scattering-induced momentum transfer rate to electrons/protons must be less than gravitational force on proton Electrons tied to protons via Coulomb force proton At radius r where interior mass is M( r ) and photon energy luminosity (e.g., in ergs s-1) is L( r ) the forces are equal when Sir Arthur Eddington
www.sil.si.edu electron Flux of photon momentum Gravitational force on proton with mass mp