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Adapting the International System of Units to the twenty-first century

Mills, I. M., Mohr, P. J., Quinn, T. J., Taylor, B. N. and Williams, E. R. (2011) Adapting the International System of Units to the twenty-first century. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 369 (1953). pp. 3907-3924. ISSN 1364-503X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2011.0180


We review the proposal of the International Committee for Weights and Measures (Comité International des Poids et Mesures, CIPM), currently being considered by the General Conference on Weights and Measures (Conférences Générales des Poids et Mesures, CGPM), to revise the International System of Units (Le Système International d’Unitès, SI). The proposal includes new definitions for four of the seven base units of the SI, and a new form of words to present the definitions of all the units. The objective of the proposed changes is to adopt definitions referenced to constants of nature, taken in the widest sense, so that the definitions may be based on what are believed to be true invariants. In particular, whereas in the current SI the kilogram, ampere, kelvin and mole are linked to exact numerical values of the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram, the magnetic constant (permeability of vacuum), the triple-point temperature of water and the molar mass of carbon-12, respectively, in the new SI these units are linked to exact numerical values of the Planck constant, the elementary charge, the Boltzmann constant and the Avogadro constant, respectively. The new wording used expresses the definitions in a simple and unambiguous manner without the need for the distinction between base and derived units. The importance of relations among the fundamental constants to the definitions, and the importance of establishing a mise en pratique for the realization of each definition, are also discussed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Chemistry
ID Code:23411
Uncontrolled Keywords:International System of Units, definition of the new SI, fundamental constant, SI reference constant, explicit-constant definition, explicit-unit definition
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing


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