Pressure is a crucial concept in physics, engineering, and everyday life. Whether you're inflating tires, studying the weather, or designing mechanical systems, measuring pressure helps us understand the forces applied over an area. The development of pressure measurement has a rich history, tied to scientific discoveries in gas laws, fluid dynamics, and thermodynamics. There are many units to measure pressure, but four of the most important are the Pascal (Pa), atmosphere (atm), millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and bar.
Pascal (Pa): The Pascal, named after the French mathematician, physicist, and inventor Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), is the SI (International System of Units) unit for pressure. Pascal’s research into hydraulics and the equilibrium of fluids led to his famous Pascal’s Law, which states that pressure exerted on an enclosed fluid is transmitted equally in all directions. One Pascal is defined as one newton per square meter:
$1\ Pa = 1\ N/m^2$Although the Pascal is the standard scientific unit of pressure, it is often considered a small unit compared to other measures.
Atmosphere (atm): The atmosphere (atm) is a unit of pressure based on the Earth's average atmospheric pressure at sea level. It was originally defined as 101,325 Pascals. The concept of atmospheric pressure was first studied by Evangelista Torricelli, an Italian physicist, in 1643. Torricelli invented the barometer, a device that measures atmospheric pressure, leading to a better understanding of how the Earth's air pressure changes with altitude.
Millimeters of Mercury (mmHg): The mmHg unit, also called Torr (after Torricelli), is used primarily in medical contexts (e.g., blood pressure). This unit originates from early barometers that used a column of mercury to measure atmospheric pressure. The height of the mercury column in millimeters was proportional to the pressure exerted by the atmosphere. One mmHg is defined as 133.322 Pascals. Despite its niche use, mmHg remains one of the most recognized units, especially in medicine.
Bar: The bar is a metric unit of pressure that was introduced by the Norwegian meteorologist Vilhelm Bjerknes in the early 20th century to simplify pressure measurements in meteorology. One bar is exactly 100,000 Pascals, or slightly less than atmospheric pressure at sea level (which is about 1.013 bar). The bar is still commonly used in weather forecasting and industry (e.g., tire pressure, hydraulics).
To convert between pressure units such as: Pa, atm, Bar and mmHg, we use the following relationships:
Atmospheres to Pascals:
$1\ atm = 101,325\ Pa$Atmospheres to Millimeters of Mercury:
$1\ atm = 760\ mmHg$Atmospheres to Bar:
$1\ atm = 1.01325\ bar$Pascals to Millimeters of Mercury:
$1\ Pa = 0.00750062\ mmHg$Pascals to Bar:
$1\ Pa = 10^{-5}\ bar$Millimeters of Mercury to Pascals:
$1\ mmHg = 133.322\ Pa$Bar to Pascals:
$1\ bar = 100,000\ Pa$Let's calculate how to convert 2 atm to both Pascals and mmHg.
Convert 2 atm to Pascals:
$P_{Pa} = 2\ atm \times 101,325\ Pa/atm = 202,650\ Pa$Convert 2 atm to mmHg:
$P_{mmHg} = 2\ atm \times 760\ mmHg/atm = 1,520\ mmHg$So, 2 atmospheres equals 202,650 Pascals and 1,520
mmHg.
Fig. Screen Shot from CHEMIX School -
Pressure Conversion Calculator
Your program allows users to convert between 12 different pressure units, including Pa, atm, mmHg, and bar. To ensure accurate results, follow these steps:
By supporting multiple pressure units and automatic conversion, your program makes it easy for users to work across different pressure scales—whether they're dealing with everyday tasks like tire inflation or scientific applications like barometry.