Official Kilogram Standard Gains Weight

Cylinder used to set value of a kilogram gained tens of micrograms from contamination


The kilogram may need to go on a diet. The international standard, a cylinder-shaped hunk of metal that defines the fundamental unit of mass, has gained tens of micrograms of mass from surface contamination, according to a new study.

As a result, each country that has one of these standard masses has a slightly different definition of the kilogram, which could throw off science experiments that require very precise weight measurements or international trade in highly restricted items that are restricted by weight, such as radioactive materials.