Matter appears organized on distinct levels in physical existence.

staircase | uniform measure | spaces comprising persons

Scales in scientific measurement

The visual metaphor drawn as if the levels of material existence were a staircase suggest to us that the universe is arranged in discrete and separate–yet interlaced – layers; where the organization and function on one layer does not necessarily hold true for the adjacent layers. But all of these layers are interdependent on the independent behavior of one another. Although all of the layers are interconnected such that cells or species are comprised of elements and quarks, the difference in sizes across these dozen steps, poses a problem for measuring the relative size of living things, molecules and atoms. Taking the measure of the cosmos becomes a daunting task without someuniform means of expressing the size of objects.

staircase | uniform measure | spaces comprising persons

Sizes differ in nature, but biology, chemistry, physics and geology share a common measure:

Uniform measure:

Measures are sometimes referred to as a "metric."

Two definitions are possible for metric, as it

1. generally refers to any unit of measure, implying a consistent means of determining a mathematical or quantifiable relation among pairs of points, or amounts of something.
2. The more restricted definition is specific to the measure of meter in a poem or the agreed upon units of measure in the European metric system . The metric system is a decimal based accounting concept of a standard unit called the meter (about a yard, or three and three tenth's feet long).

Metric implies the act of taking the dimensions and extent of something by assigning numbers in a consistent manner to something under scrutiny. In the above diagram size is being accounted for with respect to a ruler on which the marks or demarcations are in exponential relation to one in respect to the decimal system. This means, when moving to the left the size increases from one to ten to one hundred and to one thousand: 1, 10, 100, 1000.

staircase | uniform measure | spaces comprising persons

This use of the decimal and logarithmic scales allows enormously small and very large objects to be compared. There is also the opportunity to compare magnetic and electrical forces with the amplitude and frequency or length or half-life and duration of electromagnetic waves. All sciences, astronomy, physics, geology, chemistry, ecology, and biology share this quantifiable scale in order to more accurately interpret the magnitude, variation and function of things in the surrounding material world.

The steps, in the initial diagram, can thus be measured with respect to the size of objects found on the steps along the stairs that are used metaphorically to envision how nature is organized on multiple levels of size. The right side of the scale is used to show how small something is in relation to say a period ( . ) which is the equivalent of 1/100th of a meter. Smaller than a period the scale accounts for things which exist that are no larger than one trillionth of a meter in extent (femtometre on the scale below).

In the example above it is clear that for using this metric, the material world we perceive can be measured and in doing so it all comes down to a matter of size to see how one thing fits into the scheme of a larger functioning system.

staircase | uniform measure | spaces comprising persons