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Measurement is the process of obtaining the magnitude of a quantity relative to an agreed standard. This science story focuses on the agreed standards of measurement in use in New Zealand.

Measurement of any quantity involves comparison with some precisely defined unit value of the quantity. Standard units of measure need to be identified and defined as accurately as possible.

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New Zealand Research

People Profile

Mass standard research in New Zealand

Dr Laurie Christian

Measurement Standards Laboratory

Dr Chris Sutton

Science Ideas & Concepts

Teaching & Learning Approaches

Measurement systems

Cubits, spans and digits

Pre-European Māori measurement

Measuring foot pressure

SI base units

Precision and accuracy

SI derived units

Measurements weird and wonderful

Non-SI units

How long is it?

Powers of 10

Sci Media Videos

Expressing quantities

Minimising mass

Looking Closer

Superconductors and high-temperature superconductors

Changing the mass standard

The wind tunnel


UV index time-lapse map for New Zealand


Why salinity and temperature are measured

The system that is used in the scientific community is called Système International d’Unités, abbreviated to SI.

All of the SI units used in scientific measurements can be derived from just seven fundamental units. Apart from mass, each of these units has a definition based on an unchanging property of nature. Measurement scientists are working to find a suitable replacement for mass based on known physical constants.

A number of non-SI units are commonly used, even though the SI system of units covers all scientific measurements. The reasons for this are historical, political and for everyday convenience.

In order to properly use and apply the International System of Units (SI), a set of guidelines for expressing quantities using specific style conventions has been developed.

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