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SI Units

SI Units - 2018

The SI rests on a foundation of seven (7) defining constants: the cesium hyperfine splitting frequency, the speed of light in vacuum, the Planck constant, the elementary charge (i.e. the charge on a proton), the Boltzmann constant, the Avogadro constant, and the luminous efficacy of a specified monochromatic source. Definitions of all seven (7) SI base units are expressed using an explicit-constant formulation and experimentally realized using a specific mises en pratique (practical technique).

The seven SI base units, which are comprised of:

The International System of Units (SI), commonly known as the metric system, is the international standard for measurement. The International Treaty of the Meter was signed in Paris on May 20, 1875 by seventeen countries, including the United States and is now celebrated around the globe as World Metrology Day. NIST provides official U.S. representation in the various international bodies established by the Meter Convention: CGPM - General Conference on Weights and Measures; CIPM - International Committee for Weights and Measures; and BIPM - The International Bureau of Weights and Measures.

The SI is made up of 7 base units that define the 22 derived units with special names and symbols. The SI plays an essential role in international commerce and is commonly used in scientific and technological research and development. Learn more about the SI in NIST SP 330 and SP 811.

Redefining the SI

In November 2018, the world’s measurement experts voted and unanimously approved a revision of the SI that establishes a measurement system entirely based on physical constants of nature. The changes became effective on World Metrology Day, May 20, 2019.

Learn more about the Road to the Revised SI. Learn more about the SI Redefinition.

NIST Metric Trivia Quiz

How much do you know about the metric system (SI)? Try the NIST Metric Trivia Quiz online or use the Alexa skill to test your knowledge and be on your way to thinking metric!



Created April 12, 2010, Updated November 15, 2019