The Bureau International des Poids et Mesures: establishing standards in the physical sciences
Mills, I. (2002) The Bureau International des Poids et Mesures: establishing standards in the physical sciences. Chemistry International, 24 (2). pp. 4-6. ISSN 0193-6484
Official URL: http://www.iupac.org/publications/ci/2002/2402/psc...
In a vault on the outskirts of Paris, a cylinder of platinum-iridium sits in a safe under three layers of glass. It is the kilogram, kept by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), which is the international home of metrology. Metrology is the science of measurement, and it is of fundamental importance to us all. It is essential for trade, commerce, navigation, transport, communication, surveying, engineering, and construction. It is essential for medical diagnosis and treatment, health and safety, food and consumer protection, and for preserving the environment—e.g., measuring ozone in the atmosphere. Many of these applications are of particular relevance to chemistry and thus to IUPAC. In all these activities we need to make measurements reliably—to an appropriate and known level of uncertainty. The financial implications of metrology are enormous. In the United States, for example, some 15% of the gross domestic product is spent on healthcare, involving reliable quantitative measurements for both diagnosis and treatment.