50 MICROGRAMS OF PLATINUM
Just outside Paris,
the International Bureau of Weights & Measures
carefully guards the exact weight of one kilogram.
Manufactured to precise specifications
and weighed to the "20 decimal points",
a hunk of platinum (with traces of iridium) was prepared
in the late 19th century,
to weigh exactly one kilogram.
No more, no less.
It has resided in a special safe, in controlled conditions,
in 3 separate vacuum jars, in an underground vault
that can be opened only with 3 different keys
possessed by 3 different people.
(You get the idea.)
The sample was recently compared to its "official copies",
as standards to this internationally important
prototype of weight measurement.
And voila . . .
To the shock of this revered standards institution,
this protected sacred sample
was "50 micrograms" short!
To quote the Director of the
International Bureau of Weights and Measures,
when asked for an explanation of the missing platinum,
"your guess is as good as mine."
He suggested the possibility that the official kilogram
"may not have gotten lighter, but perhaps
the other comparable kilograms have gotten heavier."
(So much for officially protected standards of measurement.)