Special World Metrology Day 2020

Author: dr Paweł Fotowicz, tłumaczenie: dr Marcin Mikiel
Published by: Kamila Szulc

Let's celebrate World Metrology Day 2020 in a responsible way, following national and social principles of safe behavior, helping to find global solutions in the fight against pandemics. The theme for World Metrology Day 2020 is Measurements for global trade.

Światowy Dzień Metrologii 2020

Every year on May 20, employees of the administration of measures celebrate the World Metrology Day, i.e. the anniversary celebration of the signing of the Metre Convention on May 20, 1875. This treaty is one of the oldest international treaties in force today and forms the basis of today's metrology and, above all, a global coherent system of measures.
World Metrology Day is the annual celebration of the signing of the Metre Convention on May 20, 1875. This treaty provides the basis for a global coherent system of measures that is the basis for scientific discoveries and innovations, industrial production and international trade, as well as improving the quality of life and protecting the environment.
The most important steps that led to the signing of the Metric Convention in 1875 in Paris and the birth of modern metrology were first taken in 1864 and 1867. At that time, two conferences were held in Berlin. The most important achievements of the last of them was the decision to organize cooperation of Central European countries in the field of geodesy and to develop scientific recommendations on which geodesy would be based in the future. The recommendations, prepared by a committee composed of directors of astronomical observatories in St. Petersburg, Berlin and Neuchâtel, chaired by Otto Struve, included, among others defining: for all times, standardized and invariant measures as precise as possible for all European countries; the length of the European metre as close as possible to the archival Paris underground, its performance and comparison with copies prepared for individual countries, according to committee members, was to be entrusted to an international commission consisting of representatives of the countries concerned. In this way, for the first time, an international conference argued for the creation of an international European office of weights and measures and obliged current delegates to pass on established recommendations to their governments.
Following the findings of the Berlin Conference, in 1869, after the report of the Academy of Sciences, the French government invited European countries with which it had diplomatic relations to participate in the International Metre Commission. The task of the Commission was to plan the construction of a new subway prototype, based on the Paris archival subway, which, unlike the existing one, was to be a line pattern, not a final one. Entrusting work on the new model and its copies was proposed to the permanent French section of the International Metre Commission, supported by members from other countries.
Members of the French section were nominated fairly quickly and in November 1869 its first meeting took place aimed at developing a new concept for the meter and kilogram pattern and producing copies for European countries. In the work of the French section, one of the people who played the most important role was Henri-Edouard Trosca, who proposed that the subway standard should take the form of a "X" cross-section. In this way, both "X" arms defining the meter length plotted in a neutral central plane between the arms would change slightly if the pattern was curved.
Twenty-four countries responded positively to the invitation of the French Government. The first meeting convened for August 8, 1870 did not take place because of the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war. However, a preparatory study committee was set up on that day. It was made up of members of the French section and some foreign delegates.
The preparatory study committee met for the first and only time in April 1872. The report on the work of the Commission included provisions that became the basis for the provisions of the future Metric Convention. Also the plenary meeting of the International Metre Commission took place for the first and only time in September 1872. The proposals of the Preparatory Research Committee were approved and a standing committee of twelve was created, obliging it to supervise the work on new metro prototypes. The International Metre Commission has set up several sub-committees to which individual members have been assigned. As a result of the discussions undertaken, the Commission issued a number of recommendations that have already directly become the foundation of the Metre Convention. The preparatory studies commission's proposals have been virtually fully adopted. The entries regarding the creation of an international office included a provision informing European governments about the usefulness of establishing an International Institute of Weights and Measures. An international, neutral institution based in Paris, financed by the contributions of the signatory governments of the Institute's founding treaty.
On March 1, 1875, in Paris, again at the invitation of the French government, Metre Diplomatic Conference met and started its deliberations. During the closing session of the conference, on May 20, 1875, representatives of 17 of the 20 countries participating in the proceedings signed a treaty that was written in history under the name of the Metre Convention. The Convention and the regulations attached to set up the International Bureau of Measures (BIPM, Bureau International des Poids et Mesures), which is a scientific institution financed jointly by the signatory states. France was designated as the institution's seat, considered the “cradle” of the metric system. According to the convention, the management and supervision of the functioning of the Bureau were entrusted to the International Committee of Measures (CIPM, Committee International des Poids et Mesures), subject to the General Conference of Measures (CGPM, Conference Generale des Poids et Mesures), consisting of delegates of all contracting governments.
Over the 145 years of existence, the structure of BIPM has only slightly changed. The highest body of the Metre Convention is the abovementioned General Conference of Measures (CGPM), convened every 4 years, during which delegates of the member states of the convention take the most important decisions. The last of these concerned the formulation and approval of the new wording of the SI definition. It was undertaken during the XXVI General Conference of Weights and Measures, whose proceedings lasted from November 13 to November 16, 2018. After joining Republic of Poland to Convention in 1925, it actively joined the global system of measures, gaining influence on global metrology. The Central Office of Measures constantly participates in the work of consultative committees dealing with individual measurement fields.
The main tasks of BIPM, whose official headquarters are located today in the Breteuil pavilion in the Saint-Cloud park in Sèvres near Paris, include storage of international standards units of measurement, carrying out comparisons of national and international standards, and conducting research, among others on improving the definition of units of measure and physical constants. The original purpose of the Metre Convention - worldwide uniformity of measures - therefore also remains as important today as in 1875.
This year's theme of the World Metrology Day is "Measurements for global trade". It was selected to realize the important role that measurement plays in ensuring fair world trade, ensuring that products meet standards and regulations, and meet customer expectations for quality.
All over the world, the National Metrology Institutes are constantly developing and verifying new measurement techniques and participate in comparisons coordinated by the International Bureau of Measures to ensure the reliability of measurement results worldwide. The International Organization of Legal Metrology is developing international recommendations aimed at adapting and harmonizing the requirements for measuring instruments. International metrology institutions ensure that their measurements are reliable, creating a solid foundation for global trade and helping to prepare for the new challenges of tomorrow.
On May 20 last year, we celebrated the most important amendment to the International System of Units of Measurement SI (approved during the XXVI General Conference of Measures), which currently is definitively based on a set of basic constants, not artifacts. For the first time in history it is possible to reproduce a unit of mass, kilogram, independently in any country that can implement it according to the new definition. These were prophetic actions, for who would have thought that a year later most of the world would be closed without access to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris. This confirms that the efforts to find ways to implement SI units of measurement anywhere and anytime were worthwhile.
The amendment to the International System of Units of SI Measurements has had an impact on Polish legislation. Work is underway on an amendment to the regulation on legal units of measurement. With the entry into force of the regulation, legal units of measurement in force in Poland will be defined in terms of basic constants which are the most stable values in science.
The pandemic that we are currently facing makes World Metrology Day 2020 one of the most important celebrations since the signing of the Metric Convention. Although the theme of World Metrology Day 2020 is "Measurements for global trade", we have found a more important and crucial role in accurate measurement to find new ways to test the virus, quickly develop medical protection devices and ultimately find a vaccine.
World Metrology Day in 2020 falls in time when we all experience the effects of the COVID virus. Unfortunately, some of us have experienced its effects on our health and on our families and friends. The crisis has changed priorities around the world. Governments focused their efforts on national infrastructure to meet the challenge of protecting the population from the effects of the virus. Metrology laboratories around the world are involved in these new national and global challenges. They use their measurement experience to meet social needs in this regard. Some have developed systems to test masks for personal protection, some have contributed to the development and testing of new ventilation systems for hospitals, and others have focused their work to support clinical laboratory tests and ensure that medical thermometers operate in accordance with recognized around the world by the temperature scale and that patients experience the correct level of x-ray during diagnosis.

Let's celebrate World Metrology Day 2020 in a responsible way, following national and social principles of safe behavior, helping to find global solutions in the fight against pandemics.

World Metrology Day 2020 website


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