World Metrology Day

World Metrology Day

World Metrology Day was the 20th May, celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the convention of the metre in 1875.

Last Friday was World Metrology Day and – it being our line of work – NPL made a bit of a fuss, asking staff to take photographs of a day at NPL. There are some lovely photographs here, but it was a photo sent to me this morning by a colleague that summed it all up for me:

Can you trust this duck to tell you the temperature?

He wanted to know how well he could trust this duck for determining the temperature of his young daughter’s bath water? And it is this question – How do I know if I can trust a measurement? – that is actually the nub of everything we do at NPL.

So I took a few minutes to advise my colleague about temperature measuring technology, outlining the likely uncertainty of measurement for different thermometers. And the outcome of this is that he may well bring in his duck for calibration. Or alternatively he could of course just use his elbow like his parents did:-)

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One Response to “World Metrology Day”

  1. teddnet Says:

    Have you ever calibrated your elbow? I’ve wondered about this- the elbow skin is amongst the least sensitive parts of the body. Why would we trust that? My father (a chemist) claimed that he was accurate to a kelvin with his finger, within a certain range. My bet is that the elbow tradition was to keep the hands dry to avoid dropping the baby into the bath that the elbow was about to tell you (approximately) was hot enough to scald the baby.

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