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relative

specific gravity

or relative density

Ratio of the density of a substance to that of a standard substance. For solids and liquids, the standard substance is usually water at 39.2°F (4.0°C), which has a density of 1.00 kg/liter. Gases are usually compared to dry air, which has a density of 1.29 g/liter at 32°F (0°C) and 1 atmosphere pressure. Because it is a ratio of two quantities that have the same dimensions (mass per unit volume), specific gravity has no dimension. For example, the specific gravity of liquid mercury is 13.6, because its actual density is 13.6 kg/liter, 13.6 times that of water.

Learn more about specific gravity with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Ratio of the average mass of a chemical element's atoms to 112 the mass of an atom of the carbon-12 isotope. The original standard of atomic weight, established in the 19th century, was hydrogen, with a value of 1. From circa 1900 until 1961, the reference standard was oxygen, with a value of 16, and the unit of atomic mass was defined as 116 the mass of an oxygen atom. Oxygen, however, contains small amounts of two isotopes that are heavier than the most abundant one, and 16 is actually a weighted average of the masses of the three isotopes of oxygen. Therefore, the standard was changed to one based on carbon-12. The new scale required only minimal changes to the values that had been used for chemical atomic weights.

Learn more about atomic weight with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Relative can refer to:

  • Kinship, the principle binding the most basic social units society. If two people are connected by circumstances of birth, they are said to be relatives

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