Celebrating the International System of Units - Fundamentally Better
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 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 this year's World Metrology Day, 20 May 2019, that vote - and the decades of hard work that contributed to it - become reality.
The kilogram, metre, second, mole, ampere, kelvin and candela are no longer dependent on physical artefacts, and this will allow 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 defining the SI units via fundamental constants, 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.
To find out about each of the units, visit our unit of the month pages: Countdown SI redefinition >>
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