Iridia, Status Quo, and a Planck

For anyone who has participated in the Iridia Intro at the Iridiaplex, you might remember that our name is borrowed from the element Iridium.

You see, Iridium has a set of properties that align very strongly with what we represent as a company – it is durable, rare, and brings other elements (or stakeholders), together. It also helps set the standard of measure for the kilogram, much as we aspire to set the high-watermark for service delivery in all that we do.

Well, as of the 20th of May, things have changed.

After 129 years, the cylindrical chunk of Iridium (and platinum) known as “Big K” will end its tenure as the authoritative definer of “kilogram-ness”. In its place, a number likely unknown to most, but incredibly important to the underpinnings of the universe, 6.626 x 10-34, will be used.

Say what? Before that furrowed brow of yours becomes a permanent fixture, let us give you some background on the change.

The rationale behind the move has both precedent and is well-reasoned. The big problem with using an object to define a specific measurement is that over time, that object can change. In Big K’s case, the issue is that he/she keeps losing “weight”, and so the kilogram is becoming progressively lighter over time – clearly not a good thing for a standard. It wasn’t that long ago that people grappled with a similar challenge in defining what a meter of length was. That issue was resolved using a different constant, the speed of light (~3.0 x10 8 m/s for those curious).

In a similar way, Planck’s constant, the 6.626 x 10-34 mentioned earlier, will now define the kilogram by way of a Kibble balance …… but, we won’t get into that here.

With the change, we are left to ponder what happens next as it relates to our name, and how we tell our story.

As with any change we encounter, we reflect on our core. A commonality across all the projects we engage in is that we Challenge the Status Quo. And so, it is with defining a standard of measure – it no longer makes sense to use Iridium for this purpose, and a change has been ushered in.

In response, the status quo no longer holds. Moving forward then, we will continue to set the high-water mark for all that we do, but in this one aspect, we will do so without direct ties to Iridium.

That said, Iridium remains central to our story, and our love for it remains unflapped – #77forlife!

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