Published in Metrologia, Volume 48, Issue 3, March 1, 2011, pages 83-86.
It is widely accepted that improvement of the current International System of Units (SI) is necessary, and that central to this problem is redefinition of the kilogram. This paper compares the relative advantages of two main proposals for a modern scientific definition of the kilogram: an ‘electronic kilogram’ based on a fixed value of Planck’s constant, and an ‘atomic kilogram’ based on a fixed value for Avogadro’s number. A concrete and straightforward atomic definition of the kilogram is proposed. This definition is argued to be more experimentally neutral than the electronic kilogram, more realizable by school and university laboratories than the electronic kilogram, and more readily comprehensible than the electronic kilogram.