A group of scientists at the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology have created a new scale (and process for weighing) that increases the accuracy of small-scale, um, scales to new heights. Their new scale, which uses short nanotubes at very low temperatures, was able to measure the vibration of items down to a single yoctogram, one septillionth of a gram. For some (possible helpful) scale (that word again!), a single proton weighs 1.7 yoctograms. The scale could be used in the future for medical diagnostics as well as research. [via Nature]
All this week, the origin and continued preservation of five of our favorite standard units of measure
By Sam KeanPosted 11.05.2010 at 3:58 pm 9 Comments
This week, Sam Kean takes a look at some ridiculously precise standards -- the meter, the second, and other international standard units -- and the role that elements have played in defining, redefining, and re-redefining them over the ages.
The kilogram really sticks in the craw of metrologists. Six of the seven fundamental units of the metric system have "operational" definitions—you can define them purely in words, by describing a physical process that produces something of exactly one meter, or whatever. But the kilogram has resisted all attempts to define it that way.