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Why is measuring and finding the volume or mass of something important to Science?
Question Date: 2017-09-15
Answer 1:

The question you asked is too general. Measuring and finding the volume of mass of "something" can or cannot be important to Science, depending on what you are doing or why you are trying to measure mass or volume.

There are tons of examples where mass or volume could be irrelevant. For example, the mass of a whale might not be important at all for computer scientists or fundamental physics study. But, as this is not what you are asking, I will list some examples of mass or volume that could play important roles in Science. The bottom line is that the mass or volume represent some and limited basic properties of the subjects.

1) The first example is the mass or the volume of some chemicals. Knowing the mass or volume you can determine the density of the material. This is important because we can make some direct comparisons of the density of two different compounds. One reference that is of great importance is the density of water. For example, since our human body has a similar density as water, it won't take much effort for us to float on it. Imagine if the density of water were only half or even less of what it is, then it would be much difficult for us to swim in it. Furthermore, there are some other consequences of the density of water, such as the increased difficulty for marine animals to live in oceans, or the reduced shipping ability for vessels.

Basically, by knowing the mass or volume, you are able to calculate density. For example, lighter materials are important in space exploration or aviation; while heavier materials are more stable against outer perturbations.

2) Another quite important application of mass as a physical property is in Astronomy. To simply put it, the mass alone pretty much determines the fate of a celestial object. In the past we thought we were located at the center of the universe, but now we know that the earth is orbiting around our sun, since the total mass of earth is only about 0.0003% of the mass of the sun. This is also true for other planets in our solar system like Jupiter, which is the heaviest of these planets and has only 0.1% of mass compared to the sun. The lighter objects will orbit around the heavier center.

As a matter of fact, the mass of the sun is a basic unit. The stellar mass should be comparable to the mass of sun. Very low mass stars (still comparing to Sun) will probably become white dwarfs, while massive stars (~10 times the mass of Sun) will likely become black holes.

The mass and radius of the star will also determine the surface gravity, which is also true for planets like our earth.

On the other hand, the mass will also likely determine the lifetime of a star since the mass is consumed at a certain rate in a particular phase (there could be several phases). Our sun is estimated to live for 5 billion years. If the mass of Sun were much less than the current value, it won't even become a star, or at least it would have a shorter lifetime.


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