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Vol. 27 No. 5
September-October 2005

From the Editor

If metrology has never before tickled your interest, this issue of CI may change your mind. Several features should help convince you of the importance of the “scientific study of measurement” and its impact not only on all disciplines of science, but also on the world at large.

image of Fabienne Meyers

First, Ian Mills reviews in detail the problems related to our current kilogram standard and prototype. Surely, changing the kilogram standard—as scientists are considering—will not make your favorite recipe turn out any different, nor will it cause your scale to reveal changes in your body weight. Instead, the proposed definition of the kilogram will reveal weights, and also related fundamental constants, with more accuracy and precision down to the parts per 108. Mills explains the importance of making the change and how it would benefit fields such as quantum metrology in which the unit of mass finally would be based on a standard “invariant of nature” and referenced to quantum properties, as are the units of length and time.

As we have come to appreciate, international trade, human health and safety, and environmental protection measures depend on metrology. From a qualitative point of view, there is also the need for a shared measurement terminology. In a position paper, Paul De Bièvre shows how ambiguous terminology can create barriers to trade. Reviewing typical terms such as “quantity” or “measurand,” he points out pitfalls that could lead to misunderstanding.

The importance of precision and accuracy in measurement is echoed by K. Racke et al. in their article on crop protection chemistry. Results from a recent workshop held in Costa Rica highlight the importance of regulatory harmonization and control of residues and human exposure; these also depend on metrology.

So, as you can glance at C.P. Casey’s article listing the challenges facing chemists, perhaps you will add to your own list the challenge of being precise and accurate?

Fabienne Meyers
fabienne@iupac.org
www.iupac.org/publications/ci


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