Fundamental Units: Physics and Metrology

The problem of fundamental units is discussed in the context of achievements of both theoretical physics and modern metrology. On one hand, due to fascinating accuracy of atomic clocks, the traditional macroscopic standards of metrology (second, metre, kilogram) are giving way to standards based on fundamental units of nature: velocity of light c and quantum of action h. On the other hand, the poor precision of gravitational constant G, which is widely believed to define the "cube of theories" and the units of the future "theory of everything", does not allow to use G as a fundamental dimensional constant in metrology. The electromagnetic units in SI are actually based on concepts of prerelativistic classical electrodynamics such as ether, electric permitivity and magnetic permeability of vacuum. Concluding remarks are devoted to terminological confusion which accompanies the progress in basic physics and metrology.

Full Paper from the Los Alamos Archives.