yotta, zetta, exa, peta, tera, giga, mega… kilo?
All SI prefixes that are positive powers of 10^3 end in an “a” except “kilo-” I propose we change it to “kila-” because it won’t really make a difference to how people talk; a kilagram and a kilogram would be pronounced similarly by most people. What about people talking about “a kilo of rice” or whatever? Well, “kilo” can be adopted as a non-SI measure of weight much like “pound” or “ounce.”
Similarly, all SI prefixes that are positive powers of 10^-3 (or negative powers of 10^3) end in an “o” except “milli-” We should change that to “millo-” again with little or no need to alter how we talk.
Surely the Système International d’Unités is all about consistency. This is a a huge oversight on their part. Also, having a kilo, or kilagram, in Paris which is what we use to define what a kg is is quite unsatisfactory. If you want to know how long a second is, you look it up on wikipedia:
You can get an atom of caesium 133 and do it yourself. With that measurement in place you can find out how long a metre is:
The metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1⁄299,792,458 of a second. It follows that the speed of light in vacuum is exactly 299,792,458 metres per second.
You can procure a light source and a vacuum and find out how big a metre is.
But the kilagram, not so. If you want to know how big a kilo is, you have to go to Paris and weigh something against the International Prototype Kilogram. And while we’re at it, why does the SI unit have a prefix. That’s annoying too! I’m glad there are at least proposed future definitions. I don’t know if I’ve got my physics all backwards here, but here is perhaps another approach: Define a kilagram to be the mass a proton has when accelerated to speed X. Since distance and time are both well defined without recourse to an artefact like the IPK, this would put the kilo on the same level as them. This is an impractical definition, but no more impractical than counting osscilations in a caesium atom to measure a second or the proposed “counting atoms of carbon” approach to defining the kilagram.
Here’s a good quiz question: what do Liberia, Myanmar and the US have in common? They are the only 3 countries that have not adopted SI units as their primary method of measurement.
How cool is it that I can copy/paste text from wikipedia into wordpress and all the links automagically still work. That is really neat. Is that wordpress’ doing? Or wikipedia’s? Or firefox’s? Or Ubuntu’s? Whoever is responsible, you are now my heroes!
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