The study of measurements

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49
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5answers
7k views

Why do atomic clocks only use caesium?

Modern atomic clocks only use caesium atoms as oscillators. Why don't we use other atoms for this role?
42
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5answers
6k views

Why is the prospective new kilogram standard a sphere?

I can understand the choice of material, silicon 28, but why is it a sphere rather than (say) a cube? Article here I would have thought that a sphere would have been the hardest shape to machine ...
38
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8answers
7k views

Why does the speed of light in vacuum have no uncertainty?

I could understand that the definition of a second wouldn't have an uncertainty when related to the transition of the Cs atom, so it doesn't have an error because it's an absolute reference and we ...
30
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1answer
5k views

Why is the Ampere a base unit and not the Coulomb?

I always thought of current as the time derivative of charge, $\frac{dq}{dt}$. However, I found out recently that it is the Ampere that is the base unit and not the Coulomb. Why is this? It seems to ...
25
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3answers
1k views

Why is the mole/“amount of substance” a dimensional quantity?

According to the BIPM and Wikipedia, "amount of substance" (as measured in moles) is one of the base quantities in our system of weights and measures. Why? I get why the mole is useful as a unit. In ...
20
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7answers
6k views

Where on Earth does the mass of 1 kg actually produce a 1 kg reading on a digital scale?

Gravity on Earth varies by about 0.1% between poles and equator. If someone was buying/selling something mass critical e.g. gold, where is the standard place on Earth where a 1 kg mass produces a 1 kg ...
20
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5answers
3k views

Why is energy not an SI base unit?

According to a textbook I have begun to read, there are seven base SI units: Length Mass Time Temperature Amount of a substance Electric current Luminous intensity What I do not understand is, why ...
20
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1answer
453 views

What are the proposed realizations in the New SI for the kilogram, ampere, kelvin and mole?

The metrology world is currently in the middle of overhauling the definitions of the SI units to reflect the recent technological advances that enable us to get much more precise values for the ...
14
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4answers
719 views

Why isn't it $E \approx 27.642 \times mc^2$?

Sorry for the strange question, but why is it that many of the most important physical equations don't have ugly numbers (i.e., "arbitrary" irrational factors) to line up both sides? Why can so many ...
12
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4answers
1k views

What's keeping us from simply redefining Avogadro's Number / the Mole as a definite integer?

This might be a question to ask in a Chemistry site, but because there is a lot of talk about redefining many units of measurements in terms of Avogadro's Number / the Mole, I was wondering why we ...
11
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3answers
508 views

If time standard clocks and any memories about the time standard are destroyed, can we recover the time standard again?

Assume the time standard clocks and any memories about the time standard are destroyed. Can we recover the time standard again exactly? Recovering the time standard again means we can determine the ...
11
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3answers
6k views

273 + degree Celsius = Kelvin. Why 273?

Temperature conversion: 273 + degree Celsius = Kelvin Actually why is that 273? How does one come up with this? My teacher mentioned Gann's law (not sure if this is the one) but I couldn't find ...
11
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3answers
246 views

$1.7\cdot 10^{-24}$ mole apples a day

As the title suggests I was wondering why the International Bureau of Weights and Measures decided a mole to be a standard (SI-)unit. After some research I found I was not alone with this problem. ...
9
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1answer
107 views

How is a standard unit divided into equally smaller or fractional units physically/experimentally?

Consider the standard unit of length: meter. How was it divided into decimeter, centimeter, millimeter, etc. when there were no shorter lengths than the standard? What is the physical/experimental ...
8
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3answers
1k views

Why is the second the SI base unit for time?

Specifically, during the moves towards Le Système international d'unités in the 18th and 19th centuries, why didn't anyone attempt to move us away from the definition of there being 24 hours in a day? ...
8
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3answers
4k views

How is a second measured? And why is it measured that way?

The earth's rotation around the sun isn't exactly 24 hours. It off by some seconds which becomes somewhere around 6 hours per year and 1 day in 4 years(leap year), which brings the question why didn't ...
7
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5answers
1k views

Is anything actually 1 meter long (or 1kg of weight)?

I believe that no real objects are actually (exactly) 1 meter long, since for something to be 1.00000000... meters long, we would have to have the ability to measure with infinite precision. ...
7
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5answers
2k views

Is the speed of light in vacuum always the same value?

The escape velocity of different planets and stars vary. If they vary, the velocities of bodies escaping from the respective stars or planets should also vary. Like, if I want a ball to reach 10 ...
7
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5answers
635 views

Why were the SI base quantities chosen as such?

The reasons for choosing length, mass, time, temperature, and amount as base quantities look (at least to me) obvious. What I'm puzzling about is why current (as opposed to resistance, electromotive ...
7
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2answers
512 views

Why is the absolute zero a rational number in Celcius?

From the question "Why is the absolute zero -273.15ºC?" I understood that 1°C is the 100th part of the difference of melting and boiling temperature of water (this is my high school physics, ...
7
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2answers
2k views

Which is the “roundest man-made object”: Gravity probe B rotor or the Avogadro project sphere?

The Avogadro project is part of the efforts to replace the artefact-based standard kilogram with a definition based on naturally reproducible objects. The main challenge is to make a very precise ...
6
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3answers
945 views

Why do we still not have an exact definition for a kilogram?

I read that there is an effort to define a kilogram in terms that can exactly be reproduced in a lab. Why has it taken so long to get this done? It seems this would be fairly important. Edit Today I ...
6
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4answers
401 views

Why a day is divided by 12/24 hours? Why the number 12?

Why a day is divided by 12/24 hours? Why the number 12? Why not using 10 or 6 or 14, 16? Who invented this? Any physical reasons behind this?
6
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2answers
3k views

Why metric system uses kilogram as a basic SI unit?

SI system uses all (that I know) measurement basic units as 1 (single) instance: meter, second, ampere, etc, except the KILOgram. It already defined with 1000 multiplier (kilo). It prevents from ...
5
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4answers
2k views

Measuring the speed of light and defining the metre - absolute or relative?

If the metre is now defined as the distance light travels in vacuum in 1⁄299,792,458th of a second and the speed of light is accepted to be ...
5
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3answers
174 views

Is the speed of light in vacuum constant or does the math just happen to work out?

My apologies if my question is really idiotic, but I ask sincerely because I want to learn. Based on this question and lots of other places on the web, this topic seems to be really confusing. Let's ...
5
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1answer
193 views

Does the Kelvin have a rigorous definition?

From Wikipedia: The kelvin is defined as the fraction 1⁄273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water. That presupposes that we can take a fraction of temperature. Now, ...
5
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3answers
245 views

Does the definition of the SI unit “second” require that possible perturbation of primary frequency standards should be measured?

The definition of the SI unit "second" is stated as The second is the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground ...
4
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3answers
752 views

Definition of a year

Is there an acceptable definition of a year (in number of days)? Google Calculator: https://www.google.com/search?q=seconds+in+1+year returns 3.15569e7 seconds and then ...
4
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3answers
1k views

Why is the absolute zero -273.15ºC?

I can't find an answer of why the lowest temperature is -273.15ºC. Is it deduced theoretically or is it experimental? An explanation is that when any gas volume tends to zero, the temperature will be ...
4
votes
1answer
316 views

There are plans to develop a better definition of a “second”. How does the current definition fall short?

The current definition of a second is stated here and I found a presentation on the BIPM site which discusses plans to change to a "better" definition of a second. You can find the presentation here. ...
4
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1answer
418 views

Avogadro's number

Could I get an explanation of Avogadro's number and how it relates to determining the mass of a substance? My chemistry textbook only serves to confuse me and the Wikipedia article is aimed towards a ...
4
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2answers
11k views

refractive index of air in dependence of temperature

What is the exact dependence of the refractive index of air and the temperature? Is there a theoretical derivation of it?
4
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2answers
214 views

How do physicists and astronomers handle leap seconds?

I'm confused by the many contradictory descriptions I see about how UTC leap seconds are accounted for. I understand that there are various ways to handle them in common practice, and I've seen a ...
4
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1answer
72 views

Experimental determination of speed of light

How is the speed of light measured by the most current method i.e. using lasers and atomic clocks? Alternatively, is there a better method?
3
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2answers
4k views

Why is a degree Celsius exactly the same as a Kelvin?

How on earth is it possible that the difference between two temperatures in Celsius and Kelvin is exactly the same. Given the historical definition of Celsius, I find it hard to believe that this is ...
3
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2answers
414 views

Uncertainty of permittivity of vacuum [duplicate]

Question: The value of permittivity of vacuum, $\epsilon_0$, is given with absolutely no uncertainty in NIST Why is this the case? More details: The permeability of vacuum can be given by ...
3
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2answers
239 views

A question about atomic clocks

I have a rather simple question about atomic clocks. I have read that: Microwave radiation with a frequency of exactly 9.192.631.770 cycles per second causes the outermost electron of cesium-133 ...
3
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2answers
853 views

The famous drop of $c$

In this, in my opinion, intriguing speech, Rupert Sheldrake, tells the story of the drop between the measured valued of $c$ in 1928 and 1945. When he goes to visit the Head of Metrology of the Physics ...
3
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3answers
189 views

What widely recognized organizations set standards used by physics?

I recently answered a question about the meaning of the word "dimension" as used in physics. In that response, I provided the definition given in the International Vocabulary of Metrology (VIM) and ...
3
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2answers
890 views

Atomic clocks and how to synchronize them

During teaching measurement section in the class, Our teacher told us about atomic clocks. I have two questions: What is exactly an atomic clock? and how do we synchronize two atomic clocks far ...
3
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3answers
898 views

How do Temperature Scales work?

How exactly do temperature scales work? If my understanding is correct, the Celsius scale has two fixed points: (definitions of temperature irrespective of scale) 1. The freezing point of pure water ...
3
votes
1answer
528 views

Why is charge not taken as a fundamental unit? [duplicate]

According to the definition of electric current, it appears to be a derived quantity. Charge on the other hand seems more fundamental than electric current. Then why is current taken as fundamental ...
3
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1answer
155 views

Definition of Ampere

On Wikipedia it says: This force is used in the formal definition of the ampere, which states that it is "the constant current that will produce an attractive force of $2 × 10–7$ newton per metre ...
3
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2answers
259 views

Significant figures vs. absolute error

On NIST Avogadro's Number, $N_A = 6.022\;141\;29 \times 10^{23} \text{ mol}^{-1}$ has 9 significant figures and a standard uncertainty of $0.000\;000\;27 \times 10^{23} \text{ mol}^{-1}$. First, can ...
3
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1answer
144 views

How is UT1 being computed?

I've recently read up about time standards and now understand that UTC is a second-corrected version of international atomic time so that it is kept within 0.9s from UT1. And then UT1 is defined as ...
2
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2answers
110 views

How are weights and scales used by the public calibrated?

My physics teacher has a set of masses: things from 1 to 10 grams. My chemistry teacher has electronic balances that measures things in grams. In France, there is a block of metal we hope no one ...
2
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5answers
327 views

Could velocity be taken as fundamental instead of time?

In physics time and length are taken as fundamental in the SI system and, as it seems, in the thinking of physicists. Could one instead take velocity, with c as its unit, together with length as ...
2
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4answers
309 views

Are circularly defined {velocity, distance, and time} a problem in physics?

In order to measure velocity, one needs a calibrated measuring stick and clock. But in order to calibrate a measuring stick you need a calibrated clock and velocity. And in order to calibrate a clock ...
2
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2answers
102 views

What unit system does Fahrenheit belong to?

Wikipedia's page for Imperial Units does not list Fahrenheit. The corresponding page for SI Units lists Kelvin as an SI unit, and Celcius as a derived SI unit. This leads me to believe that ...