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The Kilogram Has Excess Mass, Could Cause Scientific Havok

By - Source: Newcastle University | B 40 comments
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There is concern that the original kilogram does not represent the mass of the original kilogram anymore.

The kilogram is one of seven International System of Units (SI) of measure and is defined by the International Prototype kilogram (IPK) which is a right-circular cylinder made of 90 percent platinum and 10 percent iridium that is stored at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures in Sèvres, France.

40 replicas were made in 1884 and sent around the world in an effort to standardize the measure of mass. Scientists at Newcastle University in the UK now said that UK's replica number 18, which is stored at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has changed its mass since 1884 by "tens of micrograms" due to the accumulation of hydrocarbons.

Research lead Peter Cumpson, professor of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems at Newcastle University, said that "mass is such a fundamental unit that even this very small change is significant and the impact of a slight variation on a global scale is absolutely huge." He noted that "there are cases of international trade in high-value materials - or waste - where every last microgram must be accounted for."

Cumpson said he used an x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy machine (XPS) to analyze the IPK's surface and found that a "suntan" could remove the excess weight again. According to the scientist, the "carbonaceous contamination" could be correct by exposing the surface to "a mixture of UV and ozone", which would not damage the platinum surface of the cylinder.

Newcastle University said that "work is underway internationally in several National Measurement Institutes to find an alternative to the IPK – a standardised value for the kilogram that is not based on a matchbox- sized piece of metal." However, until such a replacement is found, scientists have to make sure that the kilogram remains a kilogram: "If the kilogram does put on weight then it's imperative that we understand exactly how the IPK is changing," Cumpson said.

 

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  • 33 Hide
    frombehind , January 22, 2013 1:30 PM
    Lol I wish a "suntan" would remove my excess mass =D that's one lucky cylinder.
  • 21 Hide
    yeungl , January 22, 2013 1:14 PM
    Since mass cylinder is a master of standard, how can we use less accurate instrument to calibrate the master standard. That violate the fundamental rule of metrology.

    If the calibration is performed with more accurate standard, why not we switch to the better one?
  • 19 Hide
    juanc , January 22, 2013 1:43 PM
    That's so cool. Now I've lost weight... no exercise needed... just recalibrate your scales.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    yialanliu , January 22, 2013 1:08 PM
    Live Science posted this on the 6th Toms...
    Why do we keep seeing old news?
  • 15 Hide
    manofchalk , January 22, 2013 1:13 PM
    BaxtergateAbolish mass now! L Ron Hubbard has frequently been critical of these unelected eggheads dictating their nonsense to us. Scientology is the true way forward, and will abolish this nonsense, and set you on the bridge to total freedom!

    I suppose Xenu will have a faultless unit of mass waiting when we arrive?

    The near-universal unit of Mass is slightly off, that cant be good. Dont suppose it could as simple a fix of making a set of scales accurate enough to record exactly 1kg, then just using that as a template to make more of these?
  • 21 Hide
    yeungl , January 22, 2013 1:14 PM
    Since mass cylinder is a master of standard, how can we use less accurate instrument to calibrate the master standard. That violate the fundamental rule of metrology.

    If the calibration is performed with more accurate standard, why not we switch to the better one?
  • 0 Hide
    brianvan , January 22, 2013 1:17 PM
    wait, there are 40 replicas! So just use one of the other 39 in the meantime! Why would we make a big deal of this? That's why we have redundant standard units. I'm going to hold my panic for now.
  • 14 Hide
    w1zz4 , January 22, 2013 1:24 PM
    cats_Paw : It's heavier not lighter

    yeungl : They didn't weight it, they look at it with a microscope and found new hydrocarbon depot which certainly effect it's original mass.

  • 6 Hide
    xpeh , January 22, 2013 1:24 PM
    BaxtergateAbolish mass now! L Ron Hubbard has frequently been critical of these unelected eggheads dictating their nonsense to us. Scientology is the true way forward, and will abolish this nonsense, and set you on the bridge to total freedom!


    lol
  • 9 Hide
    LORD_ORION , January 22, 2013 1:27 PM
    I was hoping for something more interesting... like the mass of platinum, everywhere, was mysteriously changed by unknown forces in the universe.
  • 33 Hide
    frombehind , January 22, 2013 1:30 PM
    Lol I wish a "suntan" would remove my excess mass =D that's one lucky cylinder.
  • 0 Hide
    bak0n , January 22, 2013 1:42 PM
    Anyone else read this news on yahoo about a month ago?
  • 19 Hide
    juanc , January 22, 2013 1:43 PM
    That's so cool. Now I've lost weight... no exercise needed... just recalibrate your scales.
  • 1 Hide
    yeungl , January 22, 2013 1:58 PM
    w1zz4cats_Paw : It's heavier not lighteryeungl : They didn't weight it, they look at it with a microscope and found new hydrocarbon depot which certainly effect it's original mass.


    They quantified the change is "tens of micrograms" , also, the standard mass is stored in a double vacuum . Where is the contamination come from?

    Although using UV and ozone may correct the hydrocarbon problem, will it introduce oxidation?
  • 2 Hide
    einheriar , January 22, 2013 2:11 PM
    yeunglThey quantified the change is "tens of micrograms" , also, the standard mass is stored in a double vacuum . Where is the contamination come from?Although using UV and ozone may correct the hydrocarbon problem, will it introduce oxidation?


    Nope, Platinum is too noble a metal to get oxidised under room temperature.. Exactlly the reason why they were made of this alloy in the first place.. But the ozone and UV will oxidise the hydrocarbons, and you will in principle get CO2 out of it..
  • 9 Hide
    jake2447 , January 22, 2013 2:14 PM
    frombehindLol I wish a "suntan" would remove my excess mass =D that's one lucky cylinder.


    you probably wouldnt notice the missing micrograms
  • -5 Hide
    DRosencraft , January 22, 2013 2:16 PM
    This is similar to last summer when scientists thought they were able to accelerate atoms past the speed of light by just a tiny bit. In the aggregate it's a tiny difference that doesn't make much matter to most people. But when you start doing complex, macro level calculations for things like studying distant celestial bodies, you're talking about redoing really big, difficult, mathematics that originally took years to get right.
  • -6 Hide
    ddpruitt , January 22, 2013 2:41 PM
    Old news. This thing keeps on getting heavier and heavier (infinitesimally of course). The question is why. Could unlock secrets of the universe we never knew about.

    If you don't think it's important remember this, radioactivity was discovered when a photographic film left under a lump of uranium was exposed, a mundane observation most would have discounted, not a scientist.
  • 1 Hide
    cookoy , January 22, 2013 2:56 PM
    And in the world of commerce, a kilogram is the weight according to the scale of the seller. Accept it or you don't buy anything.
  • -4 Hide
    Kand , January 22, 2013 3:04 PM
    but the americans and other british related copuntries still use pounds for mass and FEET for lenght.
    the FEET didn`t change it`s length?
  • 1 Hide
    deksman , January 22, 2013 3:08 PM
    One of the issues with society at large (which hopefully will continue to diminish with time) is the lack of ability to critically think/actively question established theories/laws/regulations.
    Seems to me too many people are discredited and laughed at for merely even posing the question: 'what if its wrong?'
    This kind of approach to life is dogmatic.
    Science was founded on the notion that anything and everything should be subject to change at any given time (therefore notions such as 'belief', 'faith', 'truth', 'facts' etc. in whatever form are non-applicable to science).
    We may have temporary explanations that can explain certain things at any given time, but that doesn't mean those things are 'facts' or not subject to change.

    People in general should be actively questioning all theories and laws presented for the purpose of actively disproving it, but not in a negative sense, rather for the purpose of scientific advancement and expansion of our knowledge - same goes for scientists.
  • 4 Hide
    dameon51 , January 22, 2013 3:30 PM
    yialanliuLive Science posted this on the 6th Toms...Why do we keep seeing old news?

    I haven't read this yet. Why do you think we all go to the same news sites you do? Keep your mouth shut and let us that haven't read the story yet read it.
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