The definition of a kilogram is about to change

Catriona Harvey-Jenner
Photo credit: FotoDuets - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Despite having weighed myself in kilograms for quite some time, I've never really contemplated exactly who or what decides what a kilogram is (other than, obviously, being 1,000 grams).

But it turns out, the definition of a kilogram is measured by the weight of a platinum-based block locked inside a safe in Paris. The block, funnily enough, is called 'Le Grand K'.

But here's an interesting thing: scientists are about to change the way they quantify a kilogram, so it's no longer measured in accordance with Le Grand K.

Yup, the definition of a kilogram is about to change.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Although Le Grand K has been a widely respected mechanism for measuring weights for almost 130 years, scientists have decided it's time to move on due to its increasing inaccuracy. Being a physical object, Le Grand K's weight has naturally changed over the years as it has deteriorated. The deterioration may only be minute (estimated to be less than the weight of a single eyelash), but its progressive flaws mean it's becoming ever-more inaccurate in a scientific world where accuracy is vital.

Instead, scientists want to measure a kilogram using electrical current, based on the proven theory that there's a link between weight and electric current. The BBC explains that, in order to determine weight, an electrical current would be run though an electromagnet until two sides of a scale are perfectly balanced. Upon reaching the perfect point of balance, scientists can measure the electric current, and therefore the weight of a kilogram.

Sounds simple, right? Oh, who am I kidding. It's confusing AF and I really wasn't a fan of physics in school.

But the main thing you need to know is that the physical weight of a kilogram won't actually change. So if you're 60 kilograms, or 160 kilograms, you can assume it's all staying the same - there's just a behind-the-scenes change to make it all a whole lot more accurate.

Glad we've cleared that up for you.

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