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Definition

volume (amount of physical bulk)

Volume (symbolized V ) is a three-dimensional quantity representing amount or extent of physical bulk. The standard unit of volume in the International System ( SI ) is the meter cubed (m 3 ).

Volume is usually measured or defined in Euclidean (flat) three-space in Newtonian (non-relativistic) physics. We might speak of the volume of a particle, the volume of a sample of liquid or gas, or the volume of the earth. In relativistic physics, volume is determined for non-Euclidean (curved) three-space. In the case of certain complex or esoteric objects, volume might be impossible to define or measure. One example is a mathematical object having a fractional number of dimensions. Another example is an object without a well-defined surface.

When expressing large or small volumes, prefix multiplier s are attached to the meter cubed. The table below shows the most common alternative volume units and their relationship to the meter cubed.

Unit
(and symbol)
To convert to meters
cubed, multiply by:
Conversely,
multiply by:
kilometer cubed (km 3 ) 10 9 10 -9
centimeter cubed (cm 3 ) 10 -6 10 6
millimeter cubed (mm 3 ) 10 -9 10 9
foot cubed (ft 3 ) 0.0283 35.3
micrometer cubed or
micron cubed (µ 3 )
10 -18 10 18
nanometer cubed (nm 3 ) 10 -27 10 27
Angström squared (Ä 3 ) 10 -30 10 30

Compare displacement , and area .

Also see meter , meter squared , meter cubed , and International System of Units ( SI ).

This was last updated in September 2005

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