Experts are set to redefine the kilogramme (or kilogram, as Americans would have it) ditching the relic made of a platinum-iridium alloy that has been the basis for weight measurements.
The fate of dozens of copies of calibrated weights, used for global standardisation of what a kilogram weights, hangs in the balance.
Scientists believe the standard kilogramme called “le grand K”, which sets the standard, has lost weight over time, about as much as an eyelash.
The device is locked away in a vault inside the Louis XIV Pavillon de Breteuil, Paris.
It is believed that even cleaning it can affect its mass over time, but so can pollutants in the atmosphere that can stick to the mass, so whether it is cleaned or not, its weight would change.
That is why the platinum-iridium cylinder is rubbed with a chamois that has been soaked in alcohol and ether, and is then steam-rinsed using boiling double-distilled water before it is returned to its resting place, reports The Guardian.
Scientists want to replace it with a new value found in physics, the Planck Constant. It will be voted on it at the General Conference on Weights and Measures, on November 16.
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