Celebrating the International System of Units - Fundamentally Better
On 20 May, we'll be celebrating World Metrology Day. Over the past year there have been lots of exciting and inspiring events in science. We have seen the first ever picture of a black hole, discovered a neural circuit that connects our guts to our brains, landed on the surface of an asteroid, and created a microSD card that can hold 1 terabyte of data, or equivalently, 130,000 digital photos.
Playing an ever-present role in these astonishing accomplishments is measurement science. Capturing objects billions of kilometres away, understanding the intricacies of our own bodies and guiding a space-probe towards a moving target requires exceptionally exact measurements.
It was this drive for increasing precision that led to another of the past year's biggest science stories - the redefinition of the International System of Units (SI). In November 2018 the General Conference on Weights and Measures took a historic vote to make the SI units entirely determined by constants of nature.
On 20 May, that vote - and the decades of hard work that contributed to it - become reality.
The metre, second, mole, ampere, Kelvin, candela, and in particular the kilogram which no longer is dependent on a physical artefact, will all be defined by constants of nature, allowing scientists to make more accurate measurements than ever before.
Vitally, in a world where discoveries, innovation and progress are reliant on international collaboration, it will ensure that our measurements are harmonised across the globe. By implementing SI units that are fundamentally better, we look forward to the future - establishing a base from which the next generation of scientists, engineers and technicians can go on to make even more incredible discoveries and solve some of society's most pressing challenges.