1 hour ago
Guys!!!! The Kilogram is different! …and so is the ampere, kelvin, and mole. Over the weekend I played witness for the @nytimes to a historic ruling in Versailles, France (I KNOW RIGHT!?!) at the 26th General Conference on Weights and Measures! If everything was done correctly — and the #metrologists I’ve met are super thorough — you shouldn’t notice the difference. But think about how big a deal the STANDARD for measuring #weight & sound (ampere) & light (kelvin) & uh… substance (mole) is. *Everyone has to agree on it* The Kilogram has been getting the lions’ share of attention. …and it won’t stop in this post. After all, weight is the measurement most of us deal with regularly. Well… us photographers deal with kelvins a little bit, too. But everyone weighs stuff, plus of the four, it has — well, had — a physical representation. Historically, forms of measurement weren’t standard at all! Did you know back in the day, an inch was the width of a man's thumb? Sexism aside, thumbs are super different! Think about what that meant for trade, not to mention science! Fights happened. And then in 1889, “Le Grand K,” a shiny cylinder, became the gold standard for the kilogram! …well, actually, it’s made of platinum-iridium. The alloy was chosen for its stability, buuuuuuut, IT LOST WEIGHT! — the equivalent of an eyelash. Quantum physics was starting to catch up with the shiny shiny artefact. Enter the #KibbleBalance ! This awesome machine employs electromagnetism instead of gravity to precisely measure the mass of an object. And the team of scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD used the magic of science and turned the kilogram from a cylinder into an equation! ta-da! Obviously it’s way more complicated. But The equation is known as The Planck Constant. ...which still confuses me. Oh! That super-pretty 1kg silicon crystal sphere pictured above has more to do with the redefinitioni of the mole. …AND LASERS!!! I’m not sure how, but I always perk up when I hear “lasers!” ...aaaand I ran out of space. More rambling below in the comments section.