Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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Finding the Right Dose

We know from our dimensional analysis that if an object maintains its shape but changes its size, that its area changes as the square of its length and its volume changes as the cube of its length. Suppose you are a parent and your child is sick and has to take some medicine. You have taken this medicine previously and you know its dose for you. You are 5' 10" tall and weigh 180 pounds, your child is 2' 11" tall and weighs 30 pounds. Estimate an appropriate dosage for your child's medicine in the following cases. Be sure to discuss your reasoning.

  1. The medicine is one that will enter the child's bloodstream and reach every cell in the body. Your dose is 250 mg.
  2. The medicine is one that is meant to coat the child's throat. Your dose is 15 ml.

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Page last modified September 30, 2002: G10