A plum-sized lump of metal takes us from the French Revolution to an underground bunker in Maryland as we try to weigh the way we weigh the world around us.
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In this short, we meet a very special cylinder. It's the gold standard (or, in this case, the platinum-iridium standard) for measuring mass. For decades it's been coddled and cared for and treated like a tiny king. But, as we learn from writer Andrew Marantz, things change—even things that were specifically designed to stay the same.