The Metric Staircase
 peta +15        The
metric staircase below is a graphic way of showing how

 __           metric prefixes interact. It is the same thing
as the chart 
  __           above, but in a more
visual representation. Each step is 
    tera +12       a multiple of ten of the
lower step.
For instance, 'centi' 
    __           is on the next step above 'milli,' so a centimeter is 
     __           ten times larger than a
millimeter. Centigram is 
       giga +9        ten times larger than milligram. There are no 
       __           common metric prefixes for
some powers 
        __           of ten such
as +4,+5,7, etc. 
          mega +6      
          __                       
           __                      
   kilo +3                  
   hecto +2                
    deca
+1               
   
ROOT WORD           
    deci
1              
     centi 2            
    milli
3            
   __              
METRIC SYSTEM DEFINITIONS  __             
       micro 6       
Metric system
definitions are relationships      __           
between units with the
same rootword that,      __          
is, only the
prefix changes. The Metric Stair       nano 9    
case is just a way
to visualize the relationships      __        
among the metric
prefixes. We make a metric       __       
system definition in the
following way, using the        pico 12  
units kilometer and millimeter as an
example:
      __     
        __    
1.Pick the largest
metric prefix. Begin the metric definition with 
  femto15 
one of the larger units, e.g. 1
km = (some number of)
millimeters.    
_  
2. Count the number of 'steps' down the metric staircase
between the two metric prefixes. For instance, kilo to milli is
six steps.
3. The number of the smaller unit is ten to the power of the
number of steps between the metric prefixes. In our example
1 km = E6 mm. Another way to
think of it is that the number of zeros of the smaller unit is
the number of steps, so
1 km = 1,000,000 mm.
The reason for stating the metric system definitions this way
is to make calculations easier and make the sense of the
definition more obvious. It is easier to use 1 km = E6 mm than 1
mm = 1/1,000,000 km in math, even though they are
both correct.
There are some times you will need to convert between systems.
The following few conversion definitions are all you should
need to memorize to convert almost anything. Notice we show a "bridge" between the systems in length, volume, and
mass
to weight.