Blog, Updates, and Pre-Takes
I have collected a lot of footage and background materials in making this film. Not all will make it into the final edit, but I still find it interesting and wanted to share it with you, and prototype (pun intended) ideas. Some of the material is below. Enjoy!
July 15, 2023
"What was the weather in Paris on May 20, 1875? And why do I need to know? "
I have noticed that documentary films will often include a bird's-eye view of maps, and surround the edges of the maps with clouds. Pretty! I had an impulse to add clouds around the edges of my stop-motion bird's-eye view of a map of France in the 1780s, in the sequence about the Treaty of the Meter.Continue reading "What was the weather on the day the Treaty of the Meter was signed"
November 18, 2021
"If you would converse with me, you must first define your terms"."
I confess that I never thought about definitions often, until I started working on this film project.
There are many words which mean different things to different people, and depending on context. The word "uncertainty" comes to mind first, but two words which are used interchangeably are "precision" and "accuracy." Most dictionaries use one to describe the other.
In metrological context, the words do not have the same meaning. Then, how could these words apply to the redefinition of the kilogram?Continue reading "If you would converse with me, you must first define your terms"
April 4, 2020
Behind the Scenes, But No Surprises
The "Kilofilm" is coming together. I am glad. The State of the Unit is in a showable state, and Professor Gabe Spalding and his students at Illinois Wesleyan University have helped me a lot the past month.Continue reading "Behind the Scenes of Kilofilm, But No Surprises"
October 26, 2019
Who's the fairest of them all?
Of course you've heard that the kilogram is losing weight. But how much? A commonly-published quantity is 50 micrograms or "about the weight of a fingerprint." Says who?Continue reading "Who's the fairest of them all?"
April 13, 2018
How much does a fingerprint weigh?
Of course you've heard that the kilogram is losing weight. But how much? A commonly-published quantity is 50 micrograms or "about the weight of a fingerprint." Says who?Continue reading "How much does a fingerprint weight?"
December 31, 2017
299792458 Step Aside, Here Comes—662607015!
662607015 is a number to remember. Somewhere there is now a lucky person, born in in Louisiana, lucky because the digits of his/her Social Security number match the exact value of the Planck constant...Continue reading "299792458 Step Aside, Here Comes—662607015!"
August 1, 2017
How much is Georgia currency worth in New Jersey?
With Brexit, the Scottish Independence Referendum and other moves toward new countries and new governments, I have been thinking about nation states. Weights and measures, like currency, help form a nation state.
"Money and nations go hand in hand," says Mervyn King in The End of Alchemy, his recent book about economics and banking. French Revolutionaries might say that nations hold hands with weights and measures...Continue reading "How much is Georgia currency worth in New Jersey?"
October 23, 2016
Metrication in 1790s France: When people got what they asked for, but not what they wanted
Facing a national crisis exacerbated by debt from helping the American Colonies fight a war of independence, political gridlock, and a failed harvest, King Louis XVI did something his ancestors had not done since 1614---called together the national governing body, Estates-General...Continue reading "Metrication in 1790s France"
July 31, 2016
Colonial measures and education in Early America
I was happy and lucky to find two experts in Colonial and Early American mathematics education: Nerida Ellerton and Ken Clements, both math professors at Illinois State University. In addition to their regular teaching and advising, Nerida and Ken have studied and compared 500+ cyphering books.
Cyphering books are self-written reference books; students would solve problems on slates, and after reaching the correct answer, students would record the full problem in their own, more permanent cyphering book...Continue reading Colonial and Early American math education
November 20, 2014
Relics of Decimal Time from 1793-1795
The collection of scientific instruments at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, France includes a few decimal clocks and pocketwatches. When filming the kilogram and meter standards, I learned about decimal time from Dr. Lalande, who is a curator of scientific instruments at the Musée. His section includes some decimal clocks made in the 1790s. Some of the timepieces show 10 hours and their subdivisions only; others also include duodecimal time markings... Continue reading Relics of Decimal Time from 1793-1795
May 20, 2016
BYOWB: Build Your Own Watt Balance, Part 1
To celebrate World Metrology Day 2015, I made this video “Build Your Own Watt Balance” to introduce a do-it-yourself “tabletop” watt balance, built by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, who also built the NIST 4 watt balance. Watch it on Vimeo