A Master Class in Dimensional Analysis: the Universal Gas Constant

2018-07-30T14:24:29Z (GMT) by john andraos
We present a spreadsheet-assisted exercise using Microsoft Excel software for the<br>determination of the universal gas constant, R, in 35,712 different units. This large<br>number of units arises from a simple enumeration of possible pressure-volume unit<br>combinations and energy unit combinations covering SI (metric), Imperial (British), and<br>American units. In turn, various units for force and area used for defining pressure, and<br>various units for force and distance used for defining energy are explored. This<br>presentation serves as an excellent exercise for high school and undergraduate students to<br>master the skill of dimensional analysis, unit conversions, and basic combinatorics in<br>general chemistry and physical chemistry courses. Instructors can also use the described<br>exercise of constructing conversion matrices to train students in how to efficiently use the<br>Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program.