Thursday , May 13 2021

Scientists will redefine how many kilograms heavier

Researching a new prototype kilogram

Julian Stratenshulte / Picture Alliance

Weight is important. My disgraceful, post-festive waist gives Yeah enough evidence about it, but that's not enough for science.

On November 16th, the General Conference on Weights and Measures starts in France – which, look, I admit, does not sound like the most appropriate event. Scientists are expected to vote at the conference to change the definition of kilograms, placing it on the unalterable phenomena of the universe: Planck constant.

That all sounds a little confusing, so let's take a few steps back.

The most commonly used measurement format in the world is based on a metric system and is officially known as the International System Unit (SI). Seven "base units" make these, including the amp, the other and the mole. Some of these measurements are sometimes defined by physical phenomena, such as the other, which is based on the rotation of the Earth. Now, the second is defined by the radiation periods in the atom of the cesium 133.

Kilogram is the last base unit associated with the physical object.

This physical object is a part of the metal permanently placed underground in the Bureau international des poids et mesures, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, in Sevres, France. Platinum iridium alloy, known officially as the International Prototype Pound and informally as Le Grand K, is kind of like a ring in the Lordu rings – that's one weight that everyone will rule. Each weight is calibrated against Le Grand K, standardizing the kilogram measurement around the planet.

But Le Grand K, made in 1889, has lost 50 micrograms in the last 129 years. Kilogram became "999.99995-gram." Except, although this small fraction of its mass is lost, the kilogram is still defined by Le Grand K, which changes over time – and scientists do not like it. They want to be constant, forever.

Thus, a kilogram can be defined by a fixed universal phenomenon known as the Planck constant, and not from the metal in the underground vault. But how does it work?

The new definition of kilograms, if the vote goes, is terrible to read because I feel like I do not understand almost anything about the universe. Here it is:

It is defined by taking a fixed numerical value of the Planck constant h to be 6.626 070 15 to 10-34 when expressed in the unit J⋅s, which is equal to kgm2s-1, where the meter and the other are defined in terms of c and ΔνCs.


Planck's constant is a phenomenon in quantum mechanics that allows the mass to refer to electromagnetic energy. It is one of the smallest measures of the physical world, and the invention – to be measured – was a great challenge. The journey included decades and included a machine known as the Kibel Balance, which is trying to equate not mass to energy.

"We are at one point in our path," said Dr. Barri Inglis, inaugural director of the National Measurement Institutes Australia.

"After many years of research, it is now possible to justify a major revision of the SI. This decision, if taken, will represent a significant scientific achievement."

Which is most important for a kilogram, the Planck constant is exactly this: constant. Unlike Le Grand K, for 129 years it will not be 50 micrograms. This means that the kilogram can always be tied to it – and no matter how far we go through the cosmos, Planck's constant is expected to remain the same. It will also be a kilogram.

And if all this continues to confuse you, too long, it has not been read about everything, it's actually quite simple: after several decades of hard work and assumptions, scientists – these genius men and women – have found a way to define a kilogram based on the universal truth.

From Friday on, the kilogram will always weigh a kilogram.


At the conference, voices will also be seen to change the definition of amps, bars and kelvin. If you are interested, you can watch an event that changes the world of live on IouTube.

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