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Unit of length (metre)
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Summary
Unit of length (metre)
Unit of mass (kilogram)
Unit of time (second)
Unit of electric current (ampere)
Unit of thermodynamic temperature (kelvin)
Unit of amount of substance (mole)
Unit of luminous intensity (candela)

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Related articles
Practical realization of the definition of the metre
Evolution of the definition of the metre
Consultative Committee for Length (CCL)
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SI brochure, Section 2.1.1.1


The 1889 definition of the metre, based on the international prototype of platinum-iridium, was replaced by the 11th CGPM (1960) using a definition based on the wavelength of krypton 86 radiation. This change was adopted in order to improve the accuracy with which the definition of the metre could be realized, the realization being achieved using an interferometer with a travelling microscope to measure the optical path difference as the fringes were counted. In turn, this was replaced in 1983 by the 17th CGPM (1983, Resolution 1) that specified the current definition, as follows:

    The metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299 792 458 of a second.

It follows that the speed of light in vacuum is exactly 299 792 458 metres per second, c0 = 299 792 458 m/s.

The original international prototype of the metre, which was sanctioned by the 1st CGPM in 1889, is still kept at the BIPM under conditions specified in 1889.



Related articles

Practical realization of the definition of the metre
Evolution of the definition of the metre
Consultative Committee for Length (CCL)
     

Note: For the official text, please refer to the PDF files available at:
  • http://www.bipm.org/utils/common/pdf/si_brochure_8_en.pdf (in English) and
  • http://www.bipm.org/utils/common/pdf/si_brochure_8_fr.pdf (in French).
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