Redefining the Kilogram
All the scales in the world—from those at your local deli to the big ones at the junkyard—are ultimately calibrated against a 125-year-old chunk of metal in a vault on the outskirts of Paris. Its mass is the definition of a kilogram. There’s just one problem: That chunk of metal seems to be losing weight. We talk to Derek Muller, creator of the Veritasium science education series, about the race to redefine the kilo in less slippery terms—and what a near-perfect silicon crystal sphere has to do with it. And Jon Pratt, an engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, tells us about his team’s alternative “watt balance” strategy to lock down the kilo in terms of Planck’s constant.
Jon Pratt is leader of the Fundamental Electrical Measurements Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Derek Muller is creator of Veritasium and is based in Los Angeles, California.
Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.
Elah Feder is the former senior producer for podcasts at Science Friday. She produces the Science Diction podcast, and co-hosted and produced the Undiscovered podcast.