Scalar (physics)

In physics, scalars (or scalar quantities) are physical quantities that are unaffected by changes to a vector space basis (i.e., a coordinate system transformation). Scalars are often accompanied by units of measurement, as in "10 cm". Examples of scalar quantities are mass, distance, charge, volume, time, speed, and the magnitude of physical vectors in general (such as velocity).[1]

A change of a vector space basis changes the description of a vector in terms of the basis used but does not change the vector itself, while a scalar has nothing to do with this change. In classical physics, like Newtonian mechanics, rotations and reflections preserve scalars, while in relativity, Lorentz transformations or space-time translations preserve scalars. The term "scalar" has origin in the multiplication of vectors by a unitless scalar, which is a uniform scaling transformation.

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