06 7 / 2012
The Not-So-Perfect Kilogram and Why the Metric System Might Be Screwed
Hidden in a vault outside Paris, vacuum-sealed under three bell jars, sits a palm-sized metal cylinder known as the International Prototype Kilogram, or “Le Grand K.” Forged in 1879 from an alloy of platinum and iridium, it was hailed as the “perfect” kilogram—the gold standard by which other kilograms would be judged.
But at its most recent weigh-in in 1988, it was found to be 0.05 milligrams—about the weight of a grain of sand—lighter than its underling replicas. And that’s making scientists nervous.
Continue Reading: The Not-So-Perfect Kilogram
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