Defining and Measuring Nature (Second Edition)

Defining and Measuring Nature (Second Edition)

The make of all things

Jeffrey H Williams


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Measurement forms an essential part of our view of the world. Our world is measured and calibrated, and we are all subject to the tyranny of these numbers. In this updated and extended edition, Jeffrey Huw Williams outlines the history of measurement; particularly of the International System of units (SI). Since the previous edition, the base units of the SI have been redefined; realizing a 150-year-old dream for a measurement system based on unchanging, fundamental quantities of nature. This change has created a new SI, a Quantum SI, which will significantly change the way we look at nature in a quantitative manner, and greatly facilitate the advance of science.

Key Features 

  • Significantly updated and extended new edition
  • The first book to include the new Quantum SI base unit definitions
  • Features wider societal and philosophical implications of a move away from physical standards
  • Outlines the history of the science of measurement, and the origin of the Metric System
  • More than a textbook of metrology, it is also a history of how we have arrived at the Quantum SI


Jeffrey H Williams:
Following a PhD in chemical physics from Cambridge University, Jeffrey worked as a research scientist in the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and Illinois, and subsequently as a physicist at the Institute Laue-Langevin, France. Leaving research Jeffrey moved to the world of science publishing and the communication of science by becoming the European editor for the physical sciences for the AAAS's Science and subsequently, the Assistant Executive Secretary of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. Most recently, 2003–2008, he was the head of publications at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), Sèvres. It was during these years at the BIPM that he became interested in, and familiar with the origin of the Metric System, its subsequent evolution into the SI, and the coming transformation into the Quantum-SI. At the BIPM, he was the editor of their journal Metrologia. Jeffrey has written widely about science, technology, the impact of science on society and the individual for general-interest magazines such as New Scientist and for more specialized magazines (Chemistry in Britain, Physics Today, Chemical & Engineering News, Physics World and Chemistry and Industry).