Speed Conversion Calculator
Speed is the rate of change in position of an object, regardless of direction of travel. Walk forward or backward at 2 meters per second, and your speed is just that: 2 m/s. Velocity is speed in the context of direction. Say you were walking backward again; your velocity is negative 2 m/s, although your speed is still positive.
For most science applications, the SI unit for speed and velocity is meters per second (m/s), although kliometers per hour (km/h) is sometimes used when measuring the speed of vehicles. The English system usually expresses speed as miles per hour (mph) or sometimes feet per second (ft/s), while marine vessels typically use knots, or nautical miles per hour.
How to Convert Units of Speed
Conversions are performed by using a conversion factor. By knowing the conversion factor, converting between units can become a simple multiplication problem:
S * C = E
Where S is our starting value, C is our conversion factor, and E is our end converted result.
To simply convert from any unit into meters per second, for example, from 5 mph, just multiply by the conversion value in the right column in the table below.
5 mph * 0.44704 [ (m/s) / (mph) ] = 2.2352 m/s
To convert from m/s into units in the left column divide by the value in the right column or, multiply by the reciprocal, 1/x.
2.2352 (m/s) / 0.44704 [ (m/s) / (mph) ] = 5 mph
To convert among any units in the left column, say from A to B, you can multiply by the factor for A to convert A into meters per second then divide by the factor for B to convert out of meters per second. Or, you can find the single factor you need by dividing the A factor by the B factor.
For example, to convert from miles per hour to kilometers per hour you would multiply by 0.44704 then divide by 0.2777778. Or, multiply by 0.44704/0.27777778 = 1.6093439. So, to convert directly from mph to km/h (kph), you multiply by 1.6093439.
( m/s2 or m/(s·s) )
( m/s 2 / Unit )
References/ Further Reading
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - The NIST Guide for the use of the International System of Units - Appendix B, subsections B.8 Factors for Units Listed Alphabetically and B.9 Factors for units listed by kind of quantity or field of science.
Lide, David R., Daniel (Editor-in-Chief). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 89th Edition New York, NY: CRC Press, p. 1-28, 2008.
Wikipedia contributors. "Conversion of units" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, last visited 26 Jun. 2011.
How Many? A dictionary of units of measurement at http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/
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