28 July 1998
Source: http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aaces002.html
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[Federal Register: July 28, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 144)]
[Notices]
[Page 40333-40340]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr28jy98-129]
[[Page 40333]]
_______________________________________________________________________
Part II
Department of Commerce
_______________________________________________________________________
National Institute of Standards and Technology
_______________________________________________________________________
Metric System of Measurement: Interpretation of the International
System of Units for the United States; Notice
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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Institute of Standards and Technology
[Docket No. 980430113-8113-01]
Metric System of Measurement: Interpretation of the International
System of Units for the United States
AGENCY: National Institute of Standards and Technology, Commerce.
ACTION: Notice.
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SUMMARY: This notice restates the interpretation of the International
System of Units (SI) for the United States by the Department of
Commerce. This interpretation was last published by the Department of
Commerce in the Federal Register on December 20, 1990 (55 FR 52242-
52245). Since the publication of that notice, the international bodies
that are responsible for the SI have made some changes to it. It has
therefore become necessary to set forth a new interpretation of the SI
for the United States that reflects these changes.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information regarding the
International System of Units, contact Dr. Barry N. Taylor, Building
225, Room B161, National Institute of Standards and Technology,
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-0001, telephone number (301) 975-4220. For
information regarding the Federal Government's efforts to coordinate
the transition of the United States to the International System of
Units, contact Mr. James B. McCracken, Metric Program, Building 820,
Room 306, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg,
MD 20899-0001, telephone number (301) 975-3690, email:
metric__prg@nist.gov
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 5164 of Public Law 100-418, the
Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, amended Public Law 94-
168, the Metric Conversion Act of 1975. In particular, section 3 of the
Metric Conversion Act (codified as amended 15 U.S.C. 205b) reads as
follows:
``Sec. 3. It is therefore the declared policy of the United
States--
``(1) to designate the metric system of measurement as the
preferred system of weights and measures for United States trade and
commerce;
``(2) to require that each Federal agency, by a date certain and to
the extent economically feasible by the end of the fiscal year 1992,
use the metric system of measurement in its procurements, grants, and
other business related activities, except to the extent that such use
is impractical or is likely to cause significant inefficiencies or loss
of markets to United States firms, such as when foreign competitors are
producing competing products in non-metric units;
``(3) to seek out ways to increase understanding of the metric
system of measurement through educational information and guidance and
in Government publications; and
``(4) to permit the continued use of traditional systems of weights
and measures in nonbusiness activities.''
In the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, the ``metric system of
measurement'' is defined as the International System of Units as
established in 1960 by the General Conference of Weights and Measures
(abbreviated CGPM after the French Conference General des Poids et
Mesures) and interpreted or modified for the United States by the
Secretary of Commerce (15 U.S.C. 205c). The Secretary has delegated
this authority to the Director of the National Institute of Standards
and Technology. In implementation of this authority, tables and
associated text were published in the Federal Register of December 20,
1990 (55 FR 52242-52245), setting forth the interpretation for the
United States of the International System of Units (abbreviated SI in
all languages after the French Systeme International d'Unites).
The CGPM is an intergovernmental organization established by the
Meter Convention (Convention du Metre), which was signed by the United
States and 16 other countries in Paris in 1875 (nearly 50 countries are
now members of the Convention). One of the responsibilities of the CGPM
is to ensure that the SI reflects the latest advances in science and
technology. Since the publication of the 1990 Federal Register notice,
the CGPM has made two significant changes to the SI. These are (1) the
addition of four new SI prefixes to form decimal multiples and
submultiples of SI units; and (2) the elimination of the class of
supplementary units (the radian and the steradian) as a separate class
in the SI. Further, the International Committee for Weights and
Measures (abbreviated CIPM after the French Comite International des
Poids et Mesures), which comes under the authority of the CGPM, has
made some new recommendations regarding units not part of the SI that
may be used with the SI. It is therefore necessary to issue new tables
and associated text that reflect these changes and which set forth a
new interpretation of the SI for the United States. Thus this Federal
Register notice supersedes the previous interpretation published in the
Federal Register on December 20, 1990 (55 FR 52242-52245).
Classes of SI Units
There are now only two classes of units in the International System
of Units: base units and derived units. The units of these two classes
form a coherent set of units and are designated by the name ``SI
units.'' Here, the term coherent is used to mean a unit system where
all derived units are obtained from the base units by the rules of
multiplication and division with no numerical factor other than the
number 1 ever occurring in the expressions for the derived units in
terms of the base units. The SI also includes prefixes to form decimal
multiples and submultiples of SI units. Because units formed with SI
prefixes are not coherent with SI units, the units so formed are
designated by their complete name ``decimal multiples and submultiples
of SI units'' in order to make a distinction between them and the
coherent set of SI units proper. The SI units and their decimal
multiples and submultiples together are often called ``units of the
SI.''
SI Base Units
The SI is founded on seven SI base units for seven base quantities
assumed to be mutually independent. These units and quantities are
given in Table 1.
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SI Derived Units
Other quantities, called derived quantities, are defined in terms
of these seven base quantities through a system of quantity equations.
SI derived units for these derived quantities are obtained from this
system of equations and the seven SI base units in a coherent manner,
which means, in keeping with the above discussion of the term coherent,
that they are formed as products of powers (both positive and negative)
of the SI base units corresponding to the base quantities concerned
without numerical factors. Table 2 gives some examples of SI derived
units.
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Quantities of Dimension 1
The last entry of Table 2, mass fraction, is an example of certain
derived quantities that are defined as the ratio of two mutually
comparable quantities, that is, two quantities of the same kind. Since
the coherent SI derived unit of such a derived quantity is the ratio of
two identical SI units, that unit may also be expressed by the number
one, symbol 1. Such quantities are called quantities of dimension 1, or
dimensionless quantities, and the SI unit of all such quantities is the
number 1. Examples of other derived quantities of dimension 1, and thus
with a coherent SI derived unit that may be expressed by the number 1,
are relative permeability, dynamic friction factor, refractive index,
characteristic numbers such as the Mach number, and numbers that
represent a count, such as a number of molecules. However, the number 1
is generally not explicitly shown in the expression for the value of a
quantity of dimension 1. For example, the value of the refractive index
of a given medium is expressed as n = 1.51 rather than as n = 1.51 x
1. In a few cases a special name and symbol are given to the number 1
to aid understanding. The radian, unit symbol rad, and steradian, unit
symbol sr, which are given in Table 3 and are discussed in connection
with Table 4, are two such examples.
SI Derived Units With Special Names and Symbols
For ease of understanding and convenience, 21 SI derived units have
been given special names and symbols. These are listed in Table 3,
where it should be noted that the last three units of Table 3, the
becquerel, unit symbol Bq, the gray, unit symbol Gy, and the sievert,
unit symbol Sv, were specifically introduced by the CGPM with a view to
safeguarding human health.
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Degree Celsius
The derived unit in Table 3 with special name degree Celsius and
special symbol deg.C deserves comment. Because of the way temperature
scales used to be defined, it remains common practice to express a
thermodynamic temperature, symbol T, in terms of its difference from
the reference temperature T0 = 273.15 K, the ice point. This
temperature difference is called Celsius temperature, symbol t, and is
defined by the quantity equation t = T-T0. The unit of
Celsius temperature is the degree Celsius, symbol deg.C. The numerical
value of a Celsius temperature t expressed in degrees Celsius is given
by
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN28JY98.003
It follows from the definition of t that the degree Celsius is equal in
magnitude to the kelvin, which in turn implies that the numerical value
of a given temperature difference or temperature interval whose value
is expressed in the unit degree Celsius ( deg.C) is equal to the
numerical value of the same difference or interval when its value is
expressed in the unit kelvin (K). Thus temperature differences or
temperature intervals may be expressed in either the degree Celsius or
the kelvin using the same numerical value. For example, the Celsius
temperature difference t and the thermodynamic temperature
difference T between the melting point of gallium and the
triple point of water may be written as t = 29.7546 deg.C =
T = 29.7546 K. (Note that the centigrade temperature scale is
obsolete; the unit name degree centigrade should no longer be used.)
Use of SI Derived Units With Special Names and Symbols
The special names and symbols of the 21 SI derived units with
special names and symbols given in Table 3 may themselves be included
in the names and symbols of other SI derived units. This use is shown
in Table 4. All of the SI derived units in Table 4, like those in Table
3, have been obtained from the SI base units in the same coherent
manner discussed above.
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Radian and Steradian
As indicated in Table 3, the radian, unit symbol rad, and
steradian, unit symbol sr, are the special names and symbols for the
derived units of plane angle and solid angle, respectively. These units
may be used or not in expressions for derived units as is convenient in
order to distinguish between derived quantities that are not of the
same kind but are of the same dimension (that is, derived quantities
whose units when expressed in SI base units are the same). Table 4
includes some examples of derived units that use the radian and
steradian.
SI Prefixes
Table 5 gives the 20 SI prefixes used to form decimal multiples and
submultiples of SI units. It is important to note that the kilogram is
the only SI unit with a prefix as part of its name and symbol. Because
multiple prefixes may not be used, in the case of the kilogram the
prefix names of Table 5 are used with the unit name ``gram'' and the
prefix symbols are used with the unit symbol ``g.'' With this
exception, any SI prefix may be used with any SI unit, including the
degree Celsius and its symbol deg.C.
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Because the SI prefixes strictly represent powers of 10, it is
inappropriate to use them to represent powers of 2. Thus 1 kbit = 10\3\
bit = 1000 bit and not 2\10\ = 1024 bit, where 1 kbit is one kilobit.
Units Outside the SI
Certain units are not part of the International System of Units,
that is, they are outside the SI, but are important and widely used.
Consistent with the recommendations of the CIPM, the units in this
category that are accepted for use in the United States with the SI are
given in Tables 6 and 7.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN28JY98.006
Liter and Metric Ton
The units liter and metric ton in Table 6 deserve comment. The
liter and its symbol l were adopted by the CIPM in 1879. The
alternative symbol for the liter, L, was adopted by the CGPM in 1979 in
order to avoid the risk of confusion between the letter l and the
number 1. Thus, although both l and L are internationally accepted
symbols for the liter, to avoid this risk the preferred symbol for use
in the United States is L. Neither a lowercase script letter l nor an
uppercase script letter l are approved symbols for the liter. With
regard to the metric ton, this is the name to be used in the United
States for the unit with symbol t and defined according to 1 t = 10\3\
kg. (The name ``metric ton'' is also used in some other English
speaking countries, but the name ``tonne'' is used in many countries.)
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Other Units Outside the SI
Other units outside the SI that are currently accepted for use with
the SI in the United States are given in Table 8. These units, which
are subject to future review by the NIST Director on behalf of the
Secretary of Commerce, should be defined in relation to the SI in every
document in which they are used; their continued use is not encouraged.
The CIPM currently accepts the use of all of the units given in Table 8
with the SI except for the curie, roentgen, rad, and rem. Because of
the continued wide use of these units in the United States, especially
in regulatory documents dealing with health and safety, this
interpretation of the SI for the United States accepts their use with
the SI. Nevertheless, use of the corresponding SI units is encouraged
whenever possible, with values given in terms of the older units in
parentheses if necessary.
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Use of SI Prefixes With Units Outside the SI
Some SI prefixes are used with some of the units given in Tables 6,
7, and 8. For example, prefixes for both positive and negative powers
of ten are used with the liter, the electronvolt, the unified atomic
mass unit, the bar, and the barn. Prefixes for positive powers of ten
are used with the metric ton, and prefixes for negative powers of ten
are used with the neper and the bel, although the bel is most commonly
used in the form of the decibel: 1 dB = 0.1 B.
Rules and Style Conventions
A number of rules and style conventions have been adopted
internationally for the use of the SI to ensure that scientific and
technical communication is not hindered by ambiguity. The most
important of these are as follows:
1. Unit symbols are printed in roman (upright) type regardless of
the type used in the surrounding text.
2. Unit symbols are printed in lower-case letters except that:
(a) the symbol or the first letter of the symbol is an upper-case
letter when the name of the unit is derived from the name of a person;
and
(b) the preferred symbol for the liter in the United States is L.
3. When the name of a unit is spelled out, it is always written
with a lower-case initial letter unless it begins a sentence.
4. Unit symbols are unaltered in the plural.
5. Unit symbols are not followed by a period unless at the end of a
sentence.
6. Symbols for units formed from other units by multiplication are
indicated by means of a half-high (that is, centered) dot or space.
[[Page 40340]]
Example: Nm or N m
7. Symbols for units formed from other units by division are
indicated by means of a solidus (oblique stroke,/), a horizontal line,
or negative exponents.
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However, to avoid ambiguity, the solidus must not be repeated on
the same line unless parentheses are used.
Examples:
m/s^{2} or ms^{-2} but not: m/s/s
mkg/(s^{3}A) or
mkgs^{-3}A^{-1} but not:
mkg/s^{3}/A
Negative exponents should be used in complicated cases.
8. Prefix symbols are printed in roman (upright) type regardless of
the type used in the surrounding text, and are attached to unit symbols
without a space between the prefix symbol and the unit symbol. This
last rule also applies to prefix names attached to unit names.
Examples:
1 mL (one milliliter)
1 pm (one picometer)
1 G (one gigaohm)
1 THz (one terahertz)
9. The dgrouping formed by a prefix symbol attached to a unit
sybmbol constitutes a new inseparable symbol (forming a multiple or
submultiple of the unit concerned) which can be raised to a positive or
negative power and which can be combined with other unit symbols to
form compound unit symbols.
Examples:
2.3 cm^{3} = 2.3 (cm)^{3} = 2.3 (10^{-2}
m)^{3} = 2.3 x 10^{-6} m^{3}
1 cm^{-1} = 1 (cm)^{-1} = 1 (10^{-2}
m)^{-1} = 10^{2} m^{-1}
5000 s^{-1} = 5000 (s)^{-1} = 5000
(10^{-6} s)^{-1} = 5000 x 10^{6} s^{-1}
= 5 x 10^{9} s^{-1}
Prefix names are also inseparable form the unit names to which they
are attached. Thus, for example, millimeter, micropascal, and
meganewton are single words.
10. Compound prefix symbols, that is, prefix symbols formed by the
juxtaposition of two or more prefix symbols, are not permitted. This
rule also applies to compound prefix names.
Example: 1 nm (one nanometer) but not: 1 mm (one
millimicrometer)
11. An SI prefix symbol (and name) cannot stand alone, but must
always be attached to a unit symbol (or name).
Example: 5 x 10^{6}/m^{3} but not: 5M/m^{3}
12. In the expression for the value of a quantity, the unit symbol
is placed after the numerical value and a space is left between the
numerical value and the unit symbol. The only exceptions to this rule
are for the unit symbols for degree, minute, and second for plane
angle: deg., ', and '', respectively (see Table 6), in which case no
space is left between the numerical value and the unit symbol.
Example: = 30 deg.22'8''
This rule means that:
(a) The symbol deg.C for the degree Celsius is preceded by a space
when one expresses the values of Celsius temperatures.
Example: t = 30.2 deg.C but not: t = 30.2 deg.C or t = 30.2 deg. C
(b) Even when the value of a quantity is used in an adjectival
sense, a space is left between the numerical value and the unit symbol.
(This rule recognizes that unit symbols are not like ordinary words or
abbreviations but are mathematical entities, and that the value of a
quantity should be expressed in a way that is as independent of
language as possible.)
Examples:
a 1 m end gauge but not: a 1-m end gage
a 10 k resistance but not: a 10-k resistance
However, if there is any ambiguity, the words should be rearranged
accordingly. For example, the statement ``the samples were placed in 22
mL vials'' should be replaced with the statement `'the samples were
placed in vials of volume 22 mL, '' or ``the samples were placed in 22
vials of volume 1 mL,'' whichever was meant.
Note: When unit names are spelled out as is often the case in
nontechnical writing, the normal rules of English apply. Thus, for
example, ``a roll of 35-millimeter film'' is acceptable.
Obsolete Units
As stated in the 1990 Federal Register notice, metric units,
symbols, and terms that are not in accordance with the foregoing
interpretation are not accepted for continued use in the United States
with the International System of Units. Accordingly, the following
units and terms listed in the table of metric units in section 2 of the
Act of July 28, 1866 (15 U.S.C. 205) that legalized the metric system
of weights and measures in the United States are not accepted for use
in the United States:
myriameter
stere
millier or tonneau
quintal
myriagram
kilo (for kilogram).
Additional Information on the SI
Additional information on the SI may be found in NIST Special
Publication (SP) 811, Guide for the Use of the International System of
Units (SI), by Barry N. Taylor. This publication is for sale by the
Superintendent of Documents, but is also available online (as will be
this notice) at URL http://physics.nist.gov/cuu. (Although the 1995
edition of SP 811 is the edition currently available in print and
online, a new edition that fully reflects the contents of this notice
is under preparation and will replace the 1995 edition.)
Although there is no formal comment period, public comments are
welcome on a continuing basis. Comments should be submitted to Dr.
Barry N. Taylor at the above address.
Dated: June 19, 1998.
Robert E. Hebner,
Acting Deputy Director.
[FR Doc. 98-16965 Filed 7-27-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-13-M