September 19, 2019

Weighing the Significance of the New Kilogram

“Humanity has a new definition of the kilogram, the standard unit of mass used the world over.

The change — implemented on this World Metrology Day — will occur more silently than when a leap second was added to a year. It will disrupt nothing. The number on your bathroom scale isn’t going to change, for better or worse.

But still, it represents an impressive achievement: a victory of humankind against the chaos that pervades the universe.

When scientists met at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles in November, and voted for the change, they were realizing the founding dream of the metric system. The metric system — which evolved into the International System of Units, or SI — was designed to be “for all times, for all people.”

Until now, the kilogram hasn’t been for all time. It’s been imperfect. But starting today, it will be.

Until now, the definition of a kilogram has been a hunk of metal in Paris…”

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