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World Metrology Day

20 May 2013

The 20th of May is the date in 1875 when the metre convention was signed by 17 nations. Metre convention has now been signed by 55 nations (including New Zealand) who are full members of the metre convention as well as another 37 nations and economies who are associative members.

World Metrology day provides an opportunity to promote the importance of metrology. Metrology is the science of measurement and its application. Metrology includes all theoretical and practical aspects of measurement, whatever the measurement uncertainty and field of application.
Measurement science is something of vital importance to us all. The intricate and mostly invisible network of services, suppliers and communications upon which we all depend, relies on metrology for its efficient and reliable operation.
 Many physical and chemical measurements have an immediate impact on the quality of the world in which we live.
A few examples of where metrology is encountered in everyday life:
• The wealth of nations depends upon the ability to manufacture and trade precisely made and tested products and components.
• Trade between countries involves huge amounts of money, therefore a small error in measurement of, for example, flow rates and quantities of oil and gas can represent a significant amount of money.
• Economic globalization often requires that individual parts of complex engineered structures are manufactured in different countries. Metrology ensures that these parts fit together when the final system is assembled. For this reason, large multinational companies often have their own metrology departments.
• The tremendous advances in microelectronics in the last forty years would not have been possible without metrology in the continual improvement of micro-chip production. The development of fast computers allows engineers to design new micro-circuits, which in turn allows better computers, and so on.
• Satellite navigation systems and international time correlation make accurate location possible. These systems allow networking between computer systems around the world and permit aircraft to land safely in poor visibility.
• Human health depends on our ability to make accurate diagnoses requiring measurements, for example determining the level of cholesterol in blood.
• Breath analysers are used to measure alcohol levels in the body.
• Consumers need to trust the volume delivered by a petrol pump.