Realisation (metrology)
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Realisation Metrology

In metrology, the realisation of a unit of measure is the conversion of its definition into reality.[1] The International vocabulary of metrology identifies three distinct methods of realisation:

  1. Realisation of a measurement unit from its definition.
  2. Reproduction of measurement standards.
  3. Adopting a particular artefact as a standard.

The International Bureau of Weights and Measures maintains the techniques for realisation of the base units in the International System of Units (SI).[2]


The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word "realise" (also spelt "realize") as "to convert (something imagined, planned, etc.) into real existence or fact."[1] The International vocabulary of metrology identifies three distinct ways in which this is done - the first being the realisation of a measurement unit from its definition, the second the reproduction of measurement standards and the third the process of actually adopting a particular artefact as a standard.[3]



The realisation of time has gone through three phases. During both the first and second phases, man used Solar time—during the first phase, realisation of time was by observing the earth's rotation using such devices as the sundial or astrolabe. During the second phase actual timing devices such as hourglasses or clocks were used. If the user needed to know time-of-day rather than elapsed time, clocks were synchronized with astronomical time. The third phase made use of clocks that were sufficiently accurate that they could measure variations in the earth's rotation—such clocks taking over from the rotation of the earth as the prime measure of time.

Direct measurement of solar time


  • Accuracy of clocks

Time generators

  • Radiation frequency & SI


Units of length, along with mass (or weight) and time, are one of the earliest quantities that was measured by man. Historically two distinct approaches were used - one was to use a naturally occurring phenomenon such as a particular seed or part of the human body, the other was to use a standard length that was held by a community leader.

  • Natural units - barleycorn, feet
  • Regal units - measures held by ruler
  • Using speed of light

An example of a modern realisation is the realisation of the meter in terms of optical frequency standards.[4]


  • Jugs etc. in ancient times
  • Not a base unit in SI


  • grains
  • artefacts held by governments
  • Kibble balance & Avogadro experiment

Electric charge

  • Silver Nitrate deposits
  • Force between conductors
  • charge on the electron



  • sensitivity of the eye

Amount of substance

  • development of the mole


  1. ^ a b "Realise". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  2. ^ International Bureau of Weights and Measures (2012). "Practical realization of the definitions of some important units". p. 46. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ International vocabulary of metrology—Basic and general concepts and associated terms (VIM) (PDF) (3rd ed.). International Bureau of Weights and Measures on behalf of the Joint Committee for Guides in Metrology. 2012. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ Quinn, T. J. (2003). "Practical realisation of the definition of the metre, including recommended radiations of other optical frequency standards (2001)" (PDF). Metrologia. 40: 103-133. Bibcode:2003Metro..40..103Q. doi:10.1088/0026-1394/40/2/316. Retrieved 2013.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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