Order of magnitude

Posted by Gary on March 04, 2002

In Reply to: Order of magnitude posted by TheFallen on March 04, 2002

: : Anybody can tell me what is the quantitative measure of an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE? Or is there one?

: : Thanx in advance.

: I am under the probably mistaken impression that this term comes to us from astrophysics. Stars are classified by magnitude, I believe. Then again, I am attracting a growing reputation for defiantly choosing to labour under my false apprehensions, even once it's been conclusively proven to me that I am wrong.

Ten is the usual scale factor used for this, although I don't know if there's any justification for that. When I studied maths in the 60s the professor who taught astrophysics seemed to keep numbers on a very loose rein. His order of magnitude was anything from 10 to any big number you like.

By the way, this was in England and he was what we know as a professor, i.e. up at the top of his particular learning tree (and in his case occasionally out of it), not a common or garden lecturer. Do US universities call what we call lecturers professors? I get that impression from the media. If so what are what we call professors called in the US?