Today, the members of the General Conference on Weights and Measures — described by Wikipedia as "the supreme authority of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures," a sentence so aggrandizing I suspect it was written by a member of the General Conference — will gather to vote the kilogram as we know it out of existence. The International Prototype of the Kilogram, the metal cylinder that served as the standard for weight for 129 years, is going to be done away with and replaced with a new, more exact standard based on the Planck constant, which is some scientific thing based on something or another that blah blah blah doesn’t ever change because blah blah blah and will lead to more precise measurements. It's all super scientific and incredibly boring to anyone who isn't a member of the (read in booming voice) SUPREME AUTHORITY OF THE INTERNATIONAL BUREAU OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.
And it's making life more bland in the process.
A brief history of the IPK: back in 1889 a group of scientists got together in France, took a lump of metal and said, “we’ll base our entire system of weight around this.” I’d warn against thinking about it too long, because the sheer insanity of the whole thing will make your head hurt. A decagram is 10 grams, a gram is one one-thousandth of a kilogram and a kilogram is, well, a kilogram. It’s the basis for all other units of weight — including those in our *HOT TAKE* superior imperial system — and cannot be defined by anything other than something that’s defined by it. Oh, and even more fun? Over the course of its lengthy existence, the IPK has probably either lost or gained mass thanks to material being rubbed off or absorbed from the air around it, but we can’t really tell, because it’s being compared against copies of itself, which might be changing themselves. And by its very definition, even if the IPK has changed in weight it still weighs exactly the same. The weight of everything else in the world just changes to accommodate the loss or gain or we-don’t-really-know-what’s-going-on of mass.
It's completely arbitrary. It's utterly bizarre. It's off-the-wall bonkers. And I freaking love it.
Why? I dunno. Why do we like Wes Anderson films or Zooey Deschanel or Gritty? There’s just something delightful in quirkiness, in something being just a little bit wacky.