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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The macroscopic scale is the length scale on which objects or processes are of a size which is measurable and observable by the naked eye.

When applied to phenomena and abstract objects, the macroscopic scale describes existence in the world as we perceive it, often in contrast to experiences (microscopy) or theories (microphysics, statistical physics) considering objects of geometric lengths smaller than one millimeter.

A macroscopic view of a ball is just that: a ball. A microscopic view could reveal a thick round skin seemingly composed entirely of puckered cracks and fissures (as viewed through a microscope) or, further down in scale, a collection of molecules in a roughly spherical shape.

Anything that applies to physical objects or physical settings having a geometric extent larger than one millimeter is called macroscopic. For example, classical mechanics, describing the movements of the above mentioned ball, can be considered a mainly macroscopic theory; on the much smaller scale of atoms and molecules, classical mechanics no longer applies and the movement of particles is described by quantum mechanics. As another example, near the absolute minimum of temperature, the Bose–Einstein condensate exhibits elementary quantum effects on macroscopic scale.

The term may also refer to a "larger view", namely a view only available from a large perspective. A macroscopic position could be considered the "big picture".

The opposite to the macroscopic scale is the microscopic scale: objects smaller than those that can easily be seen by the naked eye and which require a lens or microscope to see them clearly.

Relative macroscopy

What is considered as being macroscopic or microscopic in scale may be relative to the overall system being discussed. For example, looking at a galaxy, a star is a microscopic entity, even though it is many, many orders of magnitude larger than us.

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Simple English

Macroscopic means physical objects that are measurable and can be seen by the naked eye.

When one uses macroscopic for abstract objects, one thinks of the world as we see it without any help. Lengths scales are called macroscopic if they are fall in the range of more or less 1 mm up to 1 km.

One may use the term macroscopic also for a "larger view", namely a view only available from a large perspective. A macroscopic position could be considered the "big picture".

Examples

  • A macroscopic view of a ball is just that: a ball. A microscopic view could reveal a thick round skin seemingly composed entirely of cracks and fissures (as viewed through a microscope) or, further down in scale, a collection of molecules in the rough shape of a sphere.

Macroscopy in physics

In physics macroscopy is a relative term. If one looks at a galaxy, a star is microscopic in comparison with the whole galaxy, even if it is many, many orders of magnitude larger than us.

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