Temperature, time, speed: the measurement permeates our lives. The Museum of Arts and Crafts (CNAM) traces the complexity of the technical prowess behind this banality of everyday life.

Kilogram in platinum iridium No. 44 •, called "44 pointed", with base and bells. Made by Collot in 1864, rebuilt in 1929 and 1984. Museum of Arts and Crafts.

This is a major event in the history of metrology. And even a "revolution," according to Thomas Grenon, director general of the National Metrology and Testing Laboratory (LNE).

In mid-November 2018, the General Conference of Weights and Measures, meeting in Versailles, will decide on a new definition for four of the seven basic units of the International System of Units used all over the world as a reference for the calculation of other sizes. The ampere, the kelvin and the mole will be linked to fundamental constants of physics. Like the kilogram, the value of which will cease to be determined by comparison with a material artifact. In this case, the "large K", this cylindrical piece, made of platinum and iridium, kept under three glass bells in a safe of the pavilion of Breteuil, Sèvres, whose mass serves, since 1889, stallion for every kilo of the planet …

This unprecedented and important reform will not be felt outside the walls of specialized laboratories. This is even one of the goals set by its designers because it would not be, trying to strengthen the foundations, to risk collapsing the building on which much of human activities depend.

The strength of the exhibition proposed by the Museum of Arts and Crafts, the CNAM, on the proposal of the LNE and with the assistance of the National Center for Scientific Research, is not so much to give an overview of what this change entails. than to propose a retreat towards fundamentals and to make people aware of the nature of the measure, its role in the functioning of our societies and its place in our way of life.

Profusion of amazing objects

Body temperature, driving speed, time of day … the measure permeates our daily life so much that we forget all methods and control procedures using instruments …

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