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English: The Watt balance at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This is an experimental, extremely accurate mass measuring instrument. The vacuum chamber dome, above the apparatus, descends during use so it operates in vacuum. The Watt balance measures mass by comparing it to atomic units, Planck's constant and the speed of light. It is being developed to provide a more accurate standard of mass than the current one. Currently the primary standard defining all the world's mass and weight units is the International Prototype Kilogram (IPK), a cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy kept in a vault at Sevres, France. It is the only unit defined by a physical artifact, so it is vulnerable to damage and deterioration over the years, and in fact has been found to vary in mass. When it is perfected, the Watt balance will be used to "weigh" the IPK, defining the kilogram by atomic units so a physical prototype will not be needed, creating an "electronically" defined kilogram.
Date 2007-10-17 (first version); 2007-10-18 (last version)
Source Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Mormegil using CommonsHelper.
Author Photo by Richard Steiner (Original uploader was Greg L at en.wikipedia)
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