Liberal Arts Blog — Basic Units, Physical Constants, Circles and Triangles

Liberal Arts Blog — Monday is the Joy of Math, Statistics, and Numbers Day

Today’s Topic — Basic Units, Physical Constants, Circles and Triangles

Math is the language of nature. Today, a few notes on the most magical of natural numbers: the basic units, physical constants, mathematical constants. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. The big three: distance, mass, and time. The meter, the second, the gram. Notice the prominence of the big three in the graphic above.

2. The big seven: take the three basic units and add four: ampere (electric current), kelvin (temperature), mol (amount of a substance), and candela (luminosity).

3. So simple, so complicated.

PHYSICAL CONSTANTS: three big ones

1. The speed of light: 186,000 miles per second

2. The gravitational constant: 6.674×10−11 m3⋅kg−1⋅s−2

3. The Planck constant: 6.62607015×10−34 J⋅s in SI units. (relates a photon’s energy to its frequency).

NB: do you believe any of this? why? do you understand it? Yeh, right. If so, please explain in English.


1. The ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. Also known as pi.

2. The sum of all angles of a triangle is always 180 degrees.

3. Does this not blow your mind?

SI base unit

Physical constant

Mathematical constant

Sum of angles of a triangle


So what are your personal favorite magic numbers? What do they stand for? Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to math, statistics, or numbers in general. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to math.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to consolidate in your memory something you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, and art.