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A LEGO Watt balance: An apparatus to determine a mass based on the new SI
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A global effort to redefine our International System of Units (SI) is underway, and the change to the new system is expected to occur in 2018. Within the newly redefined SI, the present base units will still exist but be derived from fixed numerical values of seven reference constants. In particular, the unit of mass (the kilogram) will be realized through a fixed value of the Planck constant
h. A so-called watt balance, for example, can then be used to realize the kilogram unit of mass within a few parts in 108. Such a balance has been designed and constructed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. For educational outreach and to demonstrate the principle, we have constructed a LEGO tabletop watt balance capable of measuring a gram-level masses to 1% relative uncertainty. This article presents the design, construction, and performance of the LEGO watt balance and its ability to determine h.
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