Scale - Term Overview

Home | Scale - Term Overview

Scale is a term that designates a multitude of different things. Two meanings that are still at the bottom of their modern meanings, within disciplines as different as physics, geography and the music.

In effect, a ladder is a short staircase or a place to dock ships or planes, according to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy. However, its most relevant meaning is an " ordered succession of different values ​​of the same quality."

In certain disciplines a scale is a way of organizing certain information in a hierarchical way, following a specific order. For example:

- The color value scale organizes colors from one side of the spectrum to the other.
- The scale of a map represents the conversion of distances from largest (actual size) to smallest (size figured on the map or graph).
- The musical scale orders musical notes according to their nature.
- The same happens in other specific fields, which we will see separately below.

Scale in technical drawing

In technical drawing and other forms of illustration and graphic representation, the scale of representation is a key concept: it's about the necessary equivalence between drawing and reality.

Thanks to it, the represented objects retain their proportions, that is, so that the drawing doesn't distort the shape of the original object, or the plane doesn't distort the real distances between one thing and the other.

The scales of representation are determined by the equation:

Scale = drawing size / actual size

So they are expressed as a division relationship, in terms of X / Y or X: Y, meaning that X centimeters of the drawing correspond to Y real centimeters, which allows us to elaborate a conversion factor that guarantees the fidelity of the drawing. Thus, a 1/500 scale plan will represent 500 real centimeters in 1 centimeter, that is, five meters.

These scales can be of two types: reduction and enlargement, depending on whether the exercise of representation that they do tends towards the former or the latter. Thus, a scale of 1 / 50,000 is a scale that reduces 50,000 cm to 1, while a scale of 2/1 increases each real centimeter by 2.

Scale in geography

In geography, especially in cartography, scale is a fundamental concept for the representation of space and proportion. In maps, plans, designs or diagrams, the real size of things would be impossible to represent without following certain conventions, similar to those of the previous case.

Thus, when representing a building on an urban map, for example, it will be essential to use a scale, expressed in the same previous terms: X: Y, in which X will be the figurative size, represented with the number 1, and Y will be the actual size of the object.

Thus, for example, 1: 1 would be the real scale (which is impossible on a map), that is, the object in its real proportions, since each 1 real centimeter is equivalent to 1 figurative centimeter; but 1: 500 would mean that each figured centimeter represents 500 centimeters of the real object; and 5: 1000 would mean that every 5 figured centimeters equals 1000 reales.

The proportion of the scale is usually noted on the cartographic maps somewhere, to know how many kilometers each centimeter of the map is equivalent to, and we can understand the distances, the sizes and the proportions. These scales are regulated, standardized and universalized in accordance with professional agreements on the matter.

Scale in physics

In its attempt to explain natural phenomena, to measure and represent its results, physics requires a specific scale. Thus, there are scales to measure temperature ( Celsius, Fahrenheit, Kelvin), seismological scales ( Richter, Mercalli, etc.), and equivalents for pressure, frequency, voltage, radioactivity, etc.

These scales are known as measurement scales, and they can be of various types, depending on the units they use: logarithmic, hexadecimal, etc.

Economy of scale

The term "Economy of scale" has to do indirectly with the concepts that we have seen before, as it refers to the situation of a company or organization that reduces its production costs the greater the quantity of product manufactured, since it obtains greater profit for finished unit.

This situation usually occurs when there is accumulated and usable raw material, or when the company buys more facilities, since the investment in machinery is offset by an increase in production.

In these situations, the higher the production, the lower the unit cost of the product. This is where the scale effect occurs: in which a criterion similar to that of representation scales is applied to this type of calculation:

Unit cost = Machine cost / number of products manufactured.

Economies of scale usually last up to a limit, which is when the company reaches a certain size and its management begins to become more expensive, administratively and bureaucratically speaking.

Read more articles in our blog.
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn
Back to top

Home | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

Copyright 2011 - 2020 - All Rights Reserved