NIST symposium to highlight metric system

May 20 is World Metrology Day, and NIST is planning a celebration

In case you hadn't heard, this Wednesday is World Metrology Day, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is all about metrics, is celebrating with a symposium at its headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md.

The International Bureau of Weights and Measures established May 20 as World Metrology Day. It might sound frivolous, but the name of the symposium indicates otherwise: “Measurements in Commerce: Metrology Underpinning Economic Development.” In these trying times, anything that can help underpin economic development is welcome.

One of the topics being covered is what NIST’s Elizabeth Gentry calls the United States’ subtle transition to the International System of Units, commonly known as the metric system. For example, food nutrition labels are expressed almost exclusively in the metric system. The use of metric measurements in international markets makes them increasingly important to U.S. business, and Gentry said consumers are getting a feel for metric units without necessarily realizing it. Assuming they read nutrition labels, of course.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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