Fundamental Units

Many years ago (~1968?) I was captivated by an article in Analog magazine. Although it mainly ran science-fiction stories Analog did have occasional "science fact" essays, and the one that comes to mind was devoted to the "fundamental units" of nature. There were half a dozen, beginning with mass, length, and time of course, from the ordinary world we live in. Then add charge to bring in electricity and magnetism. To set the scale of quantum effects in atomic and subatomic phenomena there's Planck's constant. For temperature and thermodynamics, you need Boltzmann's constant that links heat to other forms of energy. The author of the Analog piece arranged these half-dozen parameters in a triangle that I can almost, but not quite, still visualize 40 years later. (I'm not sure whether or not G, the gravitational constant, was in there; maybe it replaced one of the others?)

Walking home from the Metro yesterday afternoon I got to thinking about a half dozen less fundamental units: the key character attributes in "Dungeons & Dragons" or other fantasy rôle-playing games. I even came up with a silly metaphorical mapping between them and some physical quantities:

attribute quantity
Strengthpower = force / time
Intelligencespeed = distance / time
Dexterityacceleration = distance / time2
Constitutionmomentum = mass * velocity

That leaves one final nut to crack: what is the D&D character stat Wisdom analogous to? Perhaps it's dimensionless!

^z - 2009-03-20