I was raised in the time when we used the English system of weights and measures. We thought in terms of yards, feet and inches, pounds and ounces, and of course, miles. However, unbeknownst to me as a child, most of humanity was using the metric system which used centimeters, meters and kilometers, grams and kilograms. The kilogram has been based on a physical object to determine what it was, exactly. The International Prototype Kilogram, a cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy kept in a high-security vault in France, nicknamed Le Grand K, was the world’s sole true kilogram since the late 1880’s. That has now changed to be defined using numerical values that fit handily into a wallet card at a meeting of scientists from 50 countries who, I’m told, were giddy with excitement about the change. Nobel Prize winner William Philipps called the update the greatest revolution in measurement since the French Revolution, which ushered in the metric system of weights and measures. The Grand K and its six official copies, known as the “heir and the spares” kept in the same safe on the outskirts of Paris will be retired but not forgotten. The new way of measuring a kilogram won’t have any impact on our lives. Kilos and grams won’t change at the grocery store and our bathroom scales won’t get any kinder, especially mine considering I still weigh myself in pounds. I just thought the article was interesting and shows how scientists can get really excited about stuff we never even think about.
That’s Coffeetalk. I’m Vic Dubois.