The Names of Physical Units

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To all who are interested in the improvement of scientific nomenclature the points raised by Dr. Guillaume's letter (NATURE, June 17, p. 427) are of great importance. In my opinion the case for rational nomenclature has been stated with both logic and humour by Dr. Guillaume, while Dr. Harker's reply seems to show misapprehension of the main point. All good nomenclature should be unambiguous, and, if possible, self-explanatory. The terms masse volumique, volume massique, and stéradian have both these desirable qualities; no one with a knowledge of physics and French could make any mistake as to the exact meaning of the first two, and the meaning of the third should be at once self-evident to anyone who knows, the definition of a solid angle. I should not expect a chemist or a botanist to have anything but a hazy idea of the meaning of puissance massique, but even to an ordinary French engineer it should convey its meaning instantly.

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CAMPBELL, A. The Names of Physical Units. Nature 95, 451–452 (1915) doi:10.1038/095451c0

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