Saturday, July 7, 2018

A Turning Point for Humanity

Ordinarily, we here at Musings don't go into for a lot of hyperbole, but when no less an eminence than the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shouts out:

 "A Turning Point for Humanity: 
Redefining the World's Measurement System"

we have to sit up and take notice

And so what are we talking about here? Does this mean that all the PMOs have to turn in their sliderules and yardsticks? And, gasp!, try something new?

Not exactly
This November, in Versailles, France, representatives from 57 countries are expected to make history.  They will vote to dramatically transform the international system that underpins global science and trade. This single action will finally realize scientists’ 150-year dream of a measurement system based entirely on fundamental properties of nature.

The International System of Units, informally known as the metric system—the way in which the world measures everything from coffee to the cosmos—will change in a way that is more profound than anything since its establishment following the French Revolution. 

It will be a turning point for humanity
And, here it is:
 The revised [standard] will redefine the kilogram using a fixed value for the Planck constant
and using the definition of the meter and second, which are already based on constants.

This single change to the definition of the kilogram will democratize precision measurement by making it possible to do more accurate and precise measurement science anywhere in the world (and even the universe), without needing calibration to a specific artifact.
Application (In the PMO we are all about application)
From NIST: "With this system, should E.T. or Alf come knocking, we would be able to communicate the base units to residents of other planets in other galaxies, who could use them with the same accuracy as we do."

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