Saturday, February 27, 2021
Home Lead Story Old Dusty Kilogram Swapped for Something More Stable: Scientists

Old Dusty Kilogram Swapped for Something More Stable: Scientists

It has taken years of work to fine-tune the new definition to ensure the switchover will be smooth.

After years of nursing a sometimes dusty cylinder of metal in a vault outside Paris as the global reference for modern mass, scientists are updating the definition of the kilogram.

Just as the redefinition of the second in 1967 helped to ease communication across the world via technologies like GPS and the internet, experts say the change in the kilogram will be better for technology, retail and health — though it probably won’t change the price of fish much.

The kilogram has been defined since 1889 by a shiny piece of platinum-iridium held in Paris. All modern mass measurements are traceable back to it — from micrograms of pharmaceutical medicines to kilos of apples and pears and tons of steel or cement.

kilogram, weight
Border Security Force officials showing 17 kilogram heroine.

The problem is, the “international prototype kilogram” doesn’t always weigh the same. Even inside its three glass bell jars, it gets dusty and dirty, and is affected by the atmosphere. Sometimes, it really needs a wash.

“We live in a modern world. There are pollutants in the atmosphere that can stick to the mass,” said Ian Robinson, a specialist in the engineering, materials and electrical science department at Britain’s National Physical Laboratory.

“So when you just get it out of the vault, it’s slightly dirty. But the whole process of cleaning or handling or using the mass can change its mass. So it’s not the best way, perhaps, of defining mass.”

What’s needed is something more constant.

kilogram, weight
The Kilogram. Flickr

So, at the end of a week-long meeting in the Palace of Versailles, Paris, the world’s leading measurement aficionados at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures will vote Friday to make an “electronic kilogram” the new baseline measure of mass.

Just as the meter — once the length of a bar of platinum-iridium, also kept in Paris — is now defined by the constant speed of light in a vacuum, so a kilogram will be defined by a tiny but immutable fundamental value called the “Planck constant.”

The new definition involves an apparatus called the Kibble balance, which makes use of the constant to measure the mass of an object using a precisely measured electromagnetic force.

Paris,diesel,kilogram, weight
The kilogram has been defined since 1889 by a shiny piece of platinum-iridium held in Paris.VOA

“In the present system, you have to relate small masses to large masses by subdivision. That’s very difficult — and the uncertainties build up very, very quickly,” Robinson said.

“One of the things this [new] technique allows us to do is to actually measure mass directly at whatever scale we like, and that’s a big step forward.”

Also Read: NASA to Send Organ-on-Chips to Test Human Tissue Health in Space

He said it had taken years of work to fine-tune the new definition to ensure the switchover will be smooth.

But while the extra accuracy will be a boon to scientists, Robinson said that, for the average consumer buying flour or bananas, “there will be absolutely no change whatsoever.” (VOA)

STAY CONNECTED

19,120FansLike
362FollowersFollow
1,773FollowersFollow

Most Popular

With Current Climate Pledges, Global Emissions in 2030 Will Only Be 1% Lower

A United Nations Climate Change report has warned that with all current climate pledges, global emissions in 2030 will only be one per cent...

Does B-Town Link Women’s Beauty With Fair Skin? AI Analysis Reveals Truth!

For Bollywood, beautiful women have fair skin, according to an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based computer analysis which reveals that conception of beauty has remained consistent...

Smartphones May Help To Detect Early-Warning Signs of Glaucoma

Smartphones, often blamed for eye strains and other problems, can also come to your aid as researchers have found that these devices could be...

Google To Test AI Technology For Boosting Maternal Health

Researchers from Google Research and IIT Madras have designed an AI technology that could provide an indication of women who are at risk of...

Journey of Jasprit Bumrah Towards Becoming a World-Class Pace Bowler From Scratch!

When Jasprit Bumrah started troubling young batsmen with pace generated by his quick arm action and short run-up at his school's cricket academy, a...

Are Good Bacteria Getting Viral Infections?

Researchers have developed a test to determine if bacteria are sick, similar to the one used to test humans for Covid-19. According to the...

Aerobic Exercise May Help Slow Memory Loss For Older Adults

Aerobic exercise may help slow memory loss for older adults living with Alzheimer's dementia, says new research. The findings indicate that a six-month aerobic...

Bacteria To Defeat Infections Afflicting People With Cystic Fibrosis

Researchers have discovered a slimy strategy used by bacteria to defeat antibiotics and other drugs used to combat infections afflicting people with cystic fibrosis. Cystic...

Recent Comments