Dude and Dude: The Weight

“Hey dude!”


“Ya see all this ’bout tha kilogram?

“Tha kill – a – what?!?

Kilogram, dude! Kilogram!

“Yeah right. Hate ta clue ya, dude, but that ain’t even close ta funny.”


“Get real, willya? As if social media these days don’t got ’nuff problems, what wit’ data breaches, an’ peeps yellin’ an’ screamin’ at each otha, and tha billionaire owners a tha nets runnin’ off an’ doin’ weird things, what’s wit’ you broadcastin’ tha idee that there’s an app out there what kills peeps?”

“Ya mean tweets don’ do that a’ready?

“Yeauh huh. Happy phone addiction, dude.”

Not! Ain’t ya seen what kinda money they’re askin’ fer tha new ones?!?

“Well, that oughta fix tha President’s tweets, yeah?”


“On ‘count a b’cause ain’t nobody c’n afford tha gear ta get ’em!”

“Word. Dammit, dude, tha kilogram ain’t an app, it’s a thingy! ‘R at least it wuz a thingy …”

“So it’s a thingy that kills peeps.”

No killin’, dude. It ain’t a gun or nothin’.”

“What kind a thingy is it, then?”

“Kind a a shiny metal thingy.”

“Hokay. How big?”

“‘Bout that big.”

“[…] How much does it weigh?

“Um … a kilogram.”

“Gah! Speak Eeenglish, dude! How heavy is it??

“Stop pounding on me, dude! It weighs a kilogram because it is a kilogram.”

“You lie, dude.”


You said this thingy don’ kill no one. Wrong. It’s killin’ me! Willya make sense sometime taday?!?”

“It’s Sunday, dude. No payin’ work ’til tamorra. As if ya do any.”

“Same as you, dude!”

Origins of the metric system of weights and measures, France, 1800

“Geez. Lookit what it sez here. Way back afore tha Internet, tha French got sick an’ tired of havin’ ta figger out how long tha King’s foot was afore they could say how long ennything else was. Don’t ask me if’n each new King said ‘My foot. And if it’s a different length from my predecessor’s, too bad’. An’ don’t ask me what part a whatever King it was they had to weigh afore they c’ld say how heavy ennything else was, I ain’t sure ya’d wanna know. B’sides, they no longer had a King ta measure ennyways, not after they guillotined him.

“So they set up a new system. And for that new system, they had to have standards, so that, in theory anyways, anybody could go to the standard an’ check what they were measurin’ ‘gainst tha standard. So they got this metal bar an’ said ‘this is how long a metre is’. An’ another one an’ said ‘this is how heavy a kilogram is.'”

“An’ we care why? We measure thingys in feet an’ pounds, like real peeps.”

“B’cause – sez here – we only know how long a foot is ’cause we know how long a metre is. We only know how heavy a pound is ’cause we know how heavy a kilogram is.”

Huh? Just an effin’ minute! We’re ‘Muricans! We should be tellin’ them how long things are, how heavy they are! Not tha other way ’round!

“Not even Trump’s stupid enuff ta try that. I hope.”

“B’cause …?”

“B’cause tha entire rest a tha world uses metres an’ kilograms, an’ they think we’re stupid fer stickin’ and stinkin’ wit’ feet! It’s us what’re tha weirdos, not them. Speakin’ a liars.”


“We say here in the USA that we got rid of kings, but what do we do? We measure things based on tha length a some king’s foot! Someday, some President’s gonna declare that tha official foot is as long as his foot, an’ bring tha lie back ta haunt, an’ shame, us. We meant what we said ’bout free an’ equal in this country, we shoulda gone metric decades ago.”

“You just figgerin’ this out ’bout free an’ equal right now? Ya ain’t talked ta any chick, ‘r black dude, ‘r first nations peep lately, yeah? ‘Kay, so ya wanna check out your thingy ‘gainst tha standard thingy. Where do ya go?”


But ya said …!!

“Ya bought a bike ten years ago. Ya look at it now. What’s happened to tha handlebars?”

“In Hawai‘i?!? Tha chrome flakes off. They rust. They …”

“Change. So did tha standards, despite tha best efforts of the science peeps. So they’re bein’ retired. Tha kilogram is one a tha last ta go, which is how come it made tha news. They’re all bein’ replaced by … uh … physics. Which they think won’t change.”

“Such as …”

“Tha metre is [ahem] the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second. Tha kilogram is …”

“How tha hell do they measure that?!?”

Kibble balance at NIST

“Very carefully. With big an’ expensive machines. To define tha kilogram, they had ta use a Kibble balance …”

“A what?

“Ya heard me. A Kibble balance.”

“Ya gotta have a multimillion-dollar hyper-finicky contraption ta weigh dog food?!?

“Go ta yer room, wiseass.”

“Me an’ my headache are happy to oblige, dude. But riddle me this. Ya got sciency types with machines only they got, so only they can decide fer real how long stuff is, how heavy stuff is. Yeah?”


“So this differs from a king sayin’ what a foot is ta ever’body ‘xactly how?

“Tha next scientists better have damned good explanations fer changin’ nothin’. All tha next king needed was tha crown.”

“‘Kay, dude. Hope yer right.”

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2 Responses to Dude and Dude: The Weight

  1. Nathalie says:

    Quit makin’ me think.

Comments are closed.