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Learn how to convert meters to any other length unit in the metric and imperial systems. Keep reading: in this short article, you will learn:

  • What is the meter: a brief historical introduction;
  • How to perform the conversion from meter to other metric units;
  • Calculations of the meter conversion to the Imperial system;

and more, as practical examples and a list of other interesting tools!

What is a meter?

The meter is the base unit for length in the metric system. What is a base unit? The base unit is the fundamental scale we use to define all other measurement units related to the same quantity.

The meter is the first metric unit introduced, which started the metrication process in France and then the rest of the world. At the dawn of the metric system, all other units, even for different quantities, were based on the meter.

What was the first definition of the meter? As the Enlightenment attempted to root all human knowledge in rationality, the meter was first defined as the one ten-millionth fraction of the meridian passing through Paris. This definition prompted several geodesic expeditions we can describe as rather adventurous!

With time, scientists and metrologists (specialists in measurements) defined the meter with increasing attention toward fundamental natural phenomena: the current definition relies on the speed of light.

How to convert the meter to other metric units

Converting the meter to other metric units shows the advantages of the metric system: you can derive all multiples and submultiples of the meter by performing the adequate number of divisions and multiplications by 1010. In the following table, you can see the first multiples and submultiples of the base unit for length:

Prefix

Multiplier

kilo

×10\times10

10310^3

hecto

×10\times10

10210^2

deca

×10\times10

10110^1

10010^0

deci

÷10\div10

10110^{-1}

centi

÷10\div10

10210^{-2}

milli

÷10\div10

10310^{-3}

To convert from meter to any other metric unit, simply take the measurement in meters and divide it by the multiplier: its value acts as conversion factor. In the case of the kilometer, we can write the multiplier as:

103 m/km1000 m/km\footnotesize10^3\ \mathrm{m/km}\equiv 1000\ \mathrm{m/km}

that is the number of meters per kilometer. Inverting it would give us the following:

103 km/m0.001 km/m\footnotesize10^{-3}\ \mathrm{km/m}\equiv 0.001\ \mathrm{km/m}

An exemplary conversion can be the one from 299792458 m299792458\ \mathrm{m}, the distance covered by light in the vacuum in a second, to the same measurement in kilometers:

299792458 m299792458 m×0.001 km/m=299792.458 km\footnotesize\begin{split} 299792458\ \mathrm{m}&\equiv299792458\ \mathrm{m}\times 0.001\ \mathrm{km/m}\\ &= 299792.458\ \mathrm{km} \end{split}

Calculate the meter conversion to other systems of measurement units

If you need to convert the meter to another system of measurement, the matter becomes slightly more complex. In this case, logic is not enough, and you'll need to remember at least one conversion factor from one system to the other.

In the case of the imperial system, a good idea is to remember the conversion from meters to feet. The exact conversion is:

1 m=3.281 ft1\ \mathrm{m} = 3.281\ \mathrm{ft}

which gives us a conversion factor of:

3.281 ft/m3.281\ \mathrm{ft/m}

Multiply your measure in meters by this factor to find the corresponding magnitude in feet. From this point on, use the conversions of the imperial system to proceed!

More than calculating meter conversions

FAQ

How do I convert from meters to millimeter?

To convert from meters to millimeters, you only need to apply once the conversion factor between these measurement units. As there are one thousand millimeters in a meter, convert from meters to millimeters by multiplying the measurement in meters by 1000.

The magnitude of your measurement will increase as the millimeter is a much smaller measurement unit than the meter.

How much is 10 inches in meters?

10 inches are equal to 0.254 meters. To find this result, follow these steps:

  1. Convert the measurement from inches to feet: 10 in ≡ 10 in × 0.0833 ft/in= 0.833 ft
  2. Convert from feet to meters: 0.833 ft ≡ 0.833 ft × 1/3.281 m/ft = 0.254 m

That's it: in the last step, we passed from imperial to metric system using the inverse of the conversion factor between meter and foot: 3.281 ft/m.

What is the difference between meter and foot?

A meter is the base unit for length in the metric (international) system of measurements. Every metric measurement unit is defined as a multiple or submultiple of the meters. The foot is one of the imperial system's most important length measurement units. A foot is approximately equal to a third of a meter, and this similarity allows efficient comparison between measurements in the two units.

Davide Borchia
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