Landmark change to kilogram approved

16 Novembre, 2018, 17:52 | Auteur: Therese Cote

In a historic vote, nations unanimously approved Friday a ground-breaking overhaul to the worldwide system of measurements, coming together in a way that they fail to do on so many other issues behind new definitions for the kilogram and other key units vital for trade and science.

Accurate measurement is critical in many areas of the world today, such as in drug development, nanotechnology and engineering and is among reasons the Le Grand K rule is being changed.

But the platinum-iridium cylinder outside of Paris that has been the global standard for the kilo since 1889 has been troubling physicists, engineers, and anyone else who relies on very precise units of mass to build or measure anything.

The so-called "Grand K" kilogram, a cylinder of polished platinum-iridium alloy that has been the world's sole true kilo since 1889, is to be retired.

Scientists gathered in France have made a decision to redefine the definition of a kilogram. So long as the change is approved, starting next year, the kilo will be defined in terms of how much electrical force is necessary to move the reference kilo now, rather than by reference to the physical object itself.

But not to worry, you won't have to go buying electromagnetic scales for your kitchen now, and nor is the 1kg of apples you buy at the supermarket going to change.

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Martin Milton, director, International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) said: "The SI redefinition is a landmark moment in scientific progress".

But it will mean redundancy for the Grand K and its six official copies.

The new formula-based definition of the kilogramme will have multiple advantages over the precision-crafted metal lump that has set the standard for more than a century.

Unlike a physical object, the formula can not pick up particles of dust, decay with time or be dropped and damaged. Scientists will have a more stable, more precise, and more universal way of measuring mass, and the original kilo can finally loosen its belt a little.

The metal kilo is being replaced by a definition based on Planck's constant, which is part of one of the most celebrated equations in physics but also devilishly hard to explain.

Humankind is about to sever one of the links between its present and its past.

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