You’re going to need a new diet. If you go by the metric standard, everything in the universe is getting heavier. Science says so.
That’s probably not exactly what’s going on, of course. All metrologists know is the standard to measure weight used by much of the world is getting lighter. Le Grand K is the lone metric system reference yet to be switched out for a relationship with some universal constant — the speed of light, the quantum-mechanical Planck constant, etc. So for now, the platinum–iridium alloy cylinder sits under heavy security in Paris, stored in a small room, within a vault opened by three keys, under multiple bell jars. Despite all the precaution, the artifact continues to get a teensy tiny bit lighter all the time. Now several groups of researchers are pursuing a replacement in earnest.
Writer Jonathon Keats (editor of Wired’sJargon Watch and author of Virtual Words) explored the situation in the October issue’s Measure for Measures. He joined the Storyboard to discuss why the situation could be such a problem, how scientists are approaching solutions and what the outcome could mean for science going forward.
(And yes, we are considering renaming the show Weight Weight Don’t Tell Me.)