There are no products of human skill on which a greater degree of care is expended than the standards of weight and measure in use among the civilized nations of the globe. Two things in particular have to be considered — accuracy and durability. Nature does not furnish any single metal or mineral which exactly answers the requirements for a standard of measure or weight that shall be, as nearly as possible, unalterable.
The best substance yet produced for this purpose is an alloy of 90 per cent of platinum, with 10 per cent of iridium. This is called iridio-platinum, and it is the substance of which the new metric standards prepared by the international committee of weights and measures are composed.
It is hard, it is less affected by heat than any pure metal, it is practically nonoxidizable, or not subject to rust, and it can be finely engraved. In fact, the lines on the standard meters are hardly visible to the naked eye, yet they are smooth, even, sharp and accurate.
If our civilization should ever be lost, and relics of it should be discovered in some brighter age in the remote future, there is nothing which would bear higher testimony to its character than these standard measures of iridio-platinum, for the production and preservation of which the science of our day has done its very best. — Youth's Companion.
Thursday, August 28, 2008