The Kilogram As We Know It Is About To Change
The kilogram is seen by many as being the embodiment of the metric system, alongside, well, the meter itself, as well as Celsius. For over one century and a half, the kilo has been used by scientists and regular people alike to weigh in everyday objects, as well as to use in all sorts of experiments.
But things are about to change for the kilogram and six other base units of measurement, as they will be updated by the International Committee for Weight and Measurements in 2018. The reason for this change now is because, unlike the other basic units of measurement, the kilogram as we know it is based on a physical object known as the International Prototype Kilogram. All the others are based on constant values that we can observe in nature, like Celsius for instance, which is based on the freezing and boiling points of water.
Another problem here is that the Prototype Kilogram, which is located in a secured vault in France, has become slightly heavier in recent times due to some surface contamination. Now, this would not, of course, affect our everyday lives, but it will become a real headache for scientists who are working with incredibly precise measurements.
And this is why the kilogram, like the other basic units of measurement, will be based on a constant – which in this case will be Planck’s constant. This is a value that relates to a particle’s energy in relation to its frequency.
Besides the kilo, the ampere, mole, and Kelvin are also expected to be changed. So, the ampere will be based on the elementary charge of an electron, the Kelvin would be based on the Boltzmann constant, and the mole would be based on the Avogadro’s constant.
These changes are, in fact, the result of our better understanding of nature, the universe, as well as the laws that govern them. And with our increased knowledge, it is increasingly hard for scientists to make accurate measurements and predictions if they continue on using outdated units of measurement.