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Orders of magnitude

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An order of magnitude is a factor of ten. For example, two numbers are said to differ by "3 orders of magnitude" if one is 1000 times larger than other. Orders of magnitude are quite easily and commonly described through the use of scientific notation and powers of ten.

One way of categorising things in the physical world is by their size. The pages below contain lists of items that are of the same order of magnitude in time, length, area, volume, mass, or energy. This is useful for getting an intuitive sense of the comparative size of things and the overall scale of the universe. SI units are used together with SI prefixes: these were devised with orders of magnitude in mind. Each individual page also gives other units; see also conversion of units.

In the following table the different quantities are lined up so that the following are in the same row: length and the time taken by light to cross that length, area of a square and the length of one side, volume of a cube and the area of one face, mass of some water and its volume. See also separate tables for length, area, volume, mass, time.

Time Length Area Volume Mass Energy Temperature
(second) (metre) (square metre) (cubic metre) (kilogram) (joule) (kelvin)
10-44 s 10-35 m
...
10-28 s[?] 100 zm
10-27 s[?] 1 am

1 nK
10-26 s[?] 10 am       1 peV

1 µK
10-25 s[?] 100 am

1 mK
10-24 s[?] 1 fm       0.001 meV[?]
0.01 meV[?]
0.1 meV

1 K
10-23 s[?] 10 fm       1 meV
10 meV
100 meV
10 K
100 K
1000 K
10-22 s[?] 100 fm 10-28 m2[?]     1 eV
10 eV
100 eV
10,000 K
100,000 K
106 K
10-21 s[?] 1 pm     10-33 kg[?]
10-32 kg[?]
10-31 kg
1000 eV
104 eV
105 eV

109 K
10-20 s[?] 10pm     10-30 kg
10-29 kg
10-28 kg
1 MeV
10 MeV
100 MeV

109 K
10-20 s[?] 10pm     10-30 kg
10-29 kg
10-28 kg
1 MeV
10 MeV
100 MeV

1012 K
10-19 s[?] 100 pm 10-20 m2[?]
10-19 m2[?]
10-27 kg
10-26 kg
10-25 kg
1 GeV
10 GeV
100 GeV

1015 K
10-18 s 1 nm 10-18 m2[?]
10-17 m2[?]
10-24 kg
10-23 kg
10-22 kg
1 TeV
10 TeV
100 TeV

1018 K
10-17 s[?] 10 nm 10-16 m2[?]
10-15 m2[?]
10-21 kg
10-20 kg
10-19 kg
0.0001 J
0.001 J
0.01 J

1021 K
10-16 s 100 nm 10-14 m2[?]
10-13 m2[?]
10-21 m3[?]
10-20 m3[?]
10-19 m3[?]
10-18 kg
10-17 kg
10-16 kg
0.1 J
1 J
10 J

1024 K
1 fs 1 μm 10-12 m2[?]
10-11 m2[?]
10-18 m3[?]
10-17 m3[?]
10-16 m3[?]
10-15 kg
10-14 kg
10-13 kg
100 J
1000 J
10000 J

1027 K
10 fs[?] 10 μm 10-10 m2[?]
10-9 m2[?]
10-15 m3[?]
10-14 m3[?]
10-13 m3[?]
10-12 kg
10-11 kg
10-10 kg
100000 J
0.001 kWh
0.01 kWh

1030 K
100 fs 100 μm 10-8 m2[?]
10-7 m2[?]
10-12 m3[?]
10-11 m3[?]
10-10 m3[?]
10-9 kg
10-8 kg
10-7 kg
0.1 kWh
1 kWh
10 kWh

1 ps 1 mm 10-6 m2
10-5 m2
10-9 m3[?]
10-8 m3[?]
10-7 m3[?]
10-6 kg
10-5 kg
10-4 kg
100 kWh
1000 kWh
10000 kWh

10 ps 1 cm 1 cm2
10 cm2
1 ml
10 ml
100 ml
1 g
10 g
100 g
100000 kWh
1 TWh
10 TWh

100 ps 10 cm 0.01 m2
0.1 m2
1 l
10 l
100 l
1 kg
10 kg
100 kg
100 TWh
1000 TWh
10000 TWh

1 ns 1 m 1 m2
10 m2
1 m3
10 m3
100 m3
1 t
10 t
100 t
100000 TWh
106 TWh
107 TWh

10 ns 10 m 100 m2
1,000 m2
1,000 m3
10,000 m3
105 m3
106 kg
107 kg
108 kg
108 TWh
109 TWh

100 ns 100 m 1 ha
10 ha
106 m3
107 m3
108 m3
109 kg
1010 kg
1011 kg

1012 TWh

1 μs 1 km 1 km2
10 km2
1 km3
10 km3
100 km3
1012 kg
1013 kg
1014 kg

1015 TWh

10 μs 10 km 108 m2
109 m2
1012 m3

1015 kg
1016 kg
1017 kg

1018 TWh

100 μs 100 km 1010 m2
1011 m2
1015 m3

1018 kg
1019 kg
1020 kg

1021 TWh

1 ms 1000 km 1012 m2
1013 m2
1018 m3

1021 kg
1022 kg
1023 kg

1024 TWh

10 ms 104 km 1014 m2
1015 m2
1021 m3

1024 kg

1027 TWh

100 ms 105 km 1016 m2
1017 m2
1024 m3

1027 kg

1030 TWh

1 s 106 km 1018 m2
1019 m2
1027 m3

1030 kg

1033 TWh

10 s 107 km 1020 m2
1021 m2
1033 kg[?]

1036 TWh[?]

100 s 1 AU     1036 kg

1039 TWh[?]

1 hr 10 AU     1039 kg

1042 TWh[?]

10 hr 100 AU     1042 kg[?]

1045 TWh[?]

1 day 1000 AU     1045 kg[?]

1048 TWh[?]

10 day 104 AU     1048 kg[?]

1051 TWh[?]

1 yr 1 LY     1051 kg

1054 TWh

10 yr 10 LY
100 yr 100 LY
1000 yr 1000 LY
104 yr 104 LY
105 yr 105 LY
106 yr 106 LY
107 yr 107 LY
108 yr 108 LY
109 yr 109 LY
1010 yr 1010 LY
1011 yr
1012 yr
and more

Units used in the table The table uses units and prefixes that are commonly recognized:

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