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Why is the standard spec. for units always with a starting capital letter?

Posted 6 years ago
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(I hope this is not a repeated question)

When we write Quantity[ 1, "Newtons"], Mathematica has an automatic suggestion of Newtons and not newtons.

This seems strange, because N or newton is the name we give to a standardized force entity/constant, while Newton is a person, and hence, 10 Newtons is not a force, but a crowd...

This being written as strings, why was this done outside the typical notation norms?

(if I'm not mistaken, the standards CGPM? ISO? CEI? IUPAP?, etc, also recommend meters and not Meters, just for homogeneity reasons, but then, simply m, since we don't give tribute to someone)

2 Replies

I have absolutely no idea. Maybe it's an attempt to stay closer to the upper-case convention for built-in symbols? Or perhaps the automatic suggestions aren't triggered by lower-case words because those are more likely to be true free-form input, while upper-case input is likely to be the user's attempt at guessing the correct input? Note that Quantity[1, "newtons"] is perfectly valid, and the output uses "N" anyway, so "Newtons" never show up unless you use autocompletion...

Yes, this is definitely to adhere to convention. All built-in symbols, including ones normally lowercase like the constants e and i, are capitalized (see here.)

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