The Weight Of The World

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 10 2011 @ 7:39am

The kilogram by which all kilograms are measured, located in France, has been losing weight. Americans have their own version:

The official US kilogram—the physical prototype against which all weights in the United States are calibrated—cannot be touched by human hands except in rare circumstances. Sealed beneath a bell jar and locked behind three heavy doors in a laboratory 60 feet under the headquarters of the National Institute of Standards and Technology 20 miles outside Washington, DC, the shiny metal cylinder is, in many ways, better protected than the president. … As a metric unit, the kilogram is “equal to the mass of the international prototype,” according to the official definition. In other words, as metrologists like to point out, it has the remarkable property of never gaining or losing mass. By definition, any physical change to it alters the mass of everything in the cosmos.