Kilogram Crisis!

Article I, section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to “fix the standards of Weights and Measures” for the country.  The so-called “Weights and Measures Clause” is one of the ten odd clauses I talk about in my book.  I discuss the long history of our country refusing to adopt the metric system and insisting on using our really weird foot and pound system, along with maybe two other countries in the world, including Myanmar.  One great fact I learned while doing research on this chapter is that the standard official kilogram–a cylinder of platinum and iridium that is kept under lock and key (three locks and three keys, actually) in a basement outside of Paris, is in fact shedding some of its weight–a teeny-tiny amount, but even that’s enough to cause a crisis in the international weights and measures community, given that this cylinder is supposed to be the official kilogram for god’s sake! Now, it looks like the General Conference of Weights and Measures is going to change the basis of the official kilogram come its next meeting in 2015, to something having something to do with “Planck’s Constant,” whatever the hell that is.  Miraculously, this issue has recently made the New York Times.  You can read about it here and here.


1 Comment

Filed under Weights and Measures Clause

One response to “Kilogram Crisis!

  1. Kilogram, Schmilogram — where do the keep the official measures of rods and hogsheads?

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