Lighter Than You Think


A couple had been fighting for weeks over the purchase of an automobile. He wanted a new truck. She wanted a fast sports car that she could dart in and out of traffic when going shopping. The discussion was getting quite heated when finally the wife stated, “Look, I want something that goes from 0 to 180 in four seconds or less, and that’s all there is to it! My birthday is coming up and you’d better surprise me, or it’s gonna get mighty lonely for you around here, if you get my drift!” When her big day came, the wife went out to the garage, but there was no new car. Angry, she went back into the house looking for her husband, but he was not at home. Frustrated and upset, she went into the bathroom to get dressed, and there, sitting on the floor and wrapped in a big red ribbon, was her birthday present – something that would go from 0 to 180 in four seconds or less – a brand new scale!

Well, it now looks like the kilogram may need to go on a diet.  Here’s why.  In the year 1875, at the  Convention Of The Metric held in France, a  cylindrical hunk of mass weighing exactly 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds was made.  Easily fitting into the palm of your hand, it is called the International Prototype Kilogram (IPK) and is housed in a sealed, air-tight, clear container in Paris.  In addition, exact duplicate IPKs were made and distributed to the nations of the world to ensure uniformed scale weight.  But recent scale comparisons  of the duplicate IPKs with the original IPK have shown that the duplicate IPKs have put on some extra weight.  
The reason for this is, try as countries might to keep their IPK accurate, its use has gradually exposed them to micrograms of contaminates and made them heavier.  And so in Canada, our scales are now erring on the side of something weighing more than it actually does.  This discrepancy may seem incidental (being less than the weight of a grain of sand), but in atomic scientific fields where exact precise measurements are so critical and in international trade where rare and expensive items are priced in minute grams, it is causing real problems.  So after 128 years, there will be a new Convention Of The Metic meeting in Paris to try and solve the imbalance. 

In the meantime, you can truthfully and scientifically say the next time you weigh yourself, that scale is off!