The Kilogram Is Getting Heavier

The kilogram has gained weight

The original kilogram has gained unwanted weight over the last century and a new kind of scientific cleaning method may help trim the fat.

In 1875 frustrated scientists created the International Prototype Kilogram (IPK) in order to have a consistent international standard around the world. In the 1880’s about 40 of these prototypes were produced and distributed to different countries.

These prototypes are all stored in safes and vaults in their home countries.

Now, because of uncontrollable contaminants like dust particles collecting over the years, every one of these kilograms has a slightly different weight.

Current cleaning procedures don’t correct this as every country cleans their IPKs at different times with different methods.

According to Fox News, because certain fields like radioactive study require exact measurements, scientists are now calling for a universal cleaning method for kilograms to create a more accurate international weight constant.

The method being pushed for requires using ozone and ultraviolet light to clean kilograms without damaging them. This treatment would work to break the bonds between carbon atoms on the kilogram’s surface, removing a consistent layer of contamination.

Former head of the Mass Section at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France, Richard Davis, tells Wired:

“It sounds good. The technique they’re proposing is something that is not that expensive and could be implemented in different places without too much trouble.”

This new cleaning method has been developed for the last two decades under the guidance of Peter Cumpson, a metrologist at Newcastle University. By using x-ray spectroscopy to view the surface of the kilogram his team found carbon-based and mercury-based contamination.

While the new cleaning method would work to remove the carbon-based contamination, there is no known method for removing the mercury-based contamination.

Here is a video explaining the kilogram:


Do you think this new method should be implemented as a universal way to clean International Prototype Kilograms?