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The Giorgi System of Units

Nature volume 134, page 283 (25 August 1934) | Download Citation



AN interesting note on the metre, kilogram, second and ‘another unit’ system of units by Prof. G. Giorgi has been published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (I.E.C.) the central office of which is at 28, Victoria Street, S.W.I. This system of units has already been described in NATURE of April 21, p. 597. The committee for electric and magnetic units voted last year unanimously in favour of a proposal to arrange the system of practical electrotechnic units into a complete absolute system usually called the M.K.S. system. In this paper, Giorgi describes the three well-known groups of units, the C.G.S. electrostatic, the C.G.S. electro magnetic and the group of practical units. He commends the national system of units devised by Heaviside, in which the 4-K is displaced and a perfect duality between electric and magnetic formulae is secured. The theory of physical dimensions is better understood than it was fifty years ago. No one now believes that everything in the physical world depends necessarily on three fundamental quantities, length, mass and time. Giorgi shows that by taking the ampere, or the volt, or the coulomb as the fourth unit, he can build up a complete absolute system from four fundamental units. This set of units is neither electrostatic nor electromagnetic; it is in agreement with the principle of duality and can be used, with either rational or non-rational derived units. All units of the system lie between the smallest and largest magnitudes that present science has to measure. It will simplify the learning of the theory of electricity by students of electrical engineering. No proposal is made to discard the existing systems of units. Each one will be employed according to the requirements of the subject and the preference of the user. Future practice will show which is the most convenient.

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