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Calculating life

measurementsforlifeOn May 20 the Barbados National Standards Institution celebrates World Metrology Day, where the theme chosen for 2013 is “Measurements in daily life”.

World Metrology Day, commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Metre Convention in 1875, a treaty that provides the basis for a coherent measurement system worldwide.

Metrology posters and information on metrology will be on display at the BNSI, which is located in Flodden, Culloden Road, St. Michael. In the course of a typical day it is surprising how often measurements come into play, whether (among many possible examples) checking the time, purchasing food or produce, filling up a vehicle with fuel, or undergoing a blood pressure check.

These, and countless other activities in daily life, require measurements of one sort or another. Yet accurate measurements are taken for granted nowadays. Not surprisingly, most people are unaware that in the background there is a worldwide community specializing in metrology, the science of measurements, making sure it all works. Everybody depends on this community doing its job, and doing it well.

“There are many aspects to the use of these measurements. We take decisions based on their results, just as simply and automatically as pushing the brake pedal in a car when the speed is over the limit, or cutting down on sweet food if our blood sugar level is too high.” said Acting Deputy Director of the BNSI, Hadyn Rhynd. “The price of much of what we buy is calculated from measurements — electricity, water, food, fuel, to name but a few.”

Across the world, national metrology institutes, including BNSI, continually advance measurement science by developing and validating new measurement techniques at whatever level of sophistication is needed. They also participate in comparisons coordinated by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures to ensure the reliability of measurement results worldwide.

Many measuring instruments are controlled by law or are subject to regulatory control, for example, the scales used to weigh goods in a shop, instruments to measure environmental pollution, or meters used to bill energy. The International Organisation of Legal Metrology develops international recommendations, the aim of which is to align and harmonise requirements for these types of instruments worldwide.

World Metrology Day recognises and celebrates the contribution of all the people that work in intergovernmental and national organisations throughout the year on behalf of all.

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