chemistry and society

Topics: Accuracy and precision, Measurement, Imperial units Pages: 2 (680 words) Published: January 16, 2014

Chemistry and Society
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, accuracy is “freedom from mistake or error: the quality or state of being accurate: the ability to work or perform without making mistakes” ("accuracy," 2014). Precision, however, is “the quality of being precise” ("precision," 2014). That doesn’t really help with the definition much. After subsequently checking the definition for precise it means to be “very careful and exact about the details of something” ("precise," 2014). The most notable difference in the definitions of these two words, according to the dictionary, is that to be accurate it is not necessary to be careful about the details of something as it is to be precise. This seemed to be a bit confusing until it is realized that it is possible to perform without making mistakes while estimating measurements accurately. However, to be precise takes a bit more discipline and a desire to perfect what is being measured with exactness.

In society, precision of measurements is especially important in the retail industry. For example, a gallon of gas today costs $3.14 9/10. When filling up at the gas station, gallons of gas are measured to within hundredths of a gallon for precise calculation of the cost. Conversely, crab can be priced at $35.00 a bushel, but the amount of crab in a bushel is not as precisely measured. Instead it is based upon how many crab can fit into the basket, not the number of pounds. The same cannot be said for bottled water however. At the self-service stand, a gallon of water costs $0.30. If one is attempting to refill a five gallon container at a cost of $1.50 it is expected to receive precisely five gallons of water. The water will be precisely measured to five gallons. The amount of water that is actually taken home will depend on how accurately the bottle is placed beneath the spigot and if any is spilled in transit.

The five gallon bottle of water is precisely filled. However, when transporting the...


References: precision. (2014). In m-w.com. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/precision
accuracy. (2014). In m-w.com. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accuracy
precise. (2014). In m-w.com. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/precision
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