After this article came out, I submitted a letter-to-the-editors (AmSci, May/Jun2007, Vol. 95 Issue 3, p195). I suggested that the decay of a mole of radioactive element should end with a whole atom; thus 2^0=1. Going in reverse, the current value of Avogadro’s Number is approximated by 2^79 = 604 462 909 807 314 587 353 088.
In a 1996 copyrighted pamphlet, “Mole, Bits, and Cubes” (TXu000593728), I submitted that this Binary definition should be the value of Avogadro’s Number. It is invariant, free of dimensionality, and free of all the physical measurements currently being used to “hone in” on a value that seems far too prejudiced considering it is all tangled up with a chunk of metal that needs periodic cleaning that removes few bits of matter in the process and is subject to experimental errors in measurements (80 parts in a billion? and at what accuracy/precision).
With N avo = 2^79, the kilogram is as good as measurements can determine the purity, number, and atomic mass of the units of whatever material (e.g., the silicon-28 sphere that is being proffered) is being measured and the standard on which the standards folks make the reference point. Thus, a binary mole of absolutely pure carbon-12 would currently weight precisely 12.0· grams and always be so until they changed the reference point from C-12. At least Avogadro’s “Number” would finally be a “constant” – one and the same.
What I see is a great effort (by those who will be making a decision) not to alter the massive weights and measurements structure that is in place throughout the world of commerce. In that realm, Avogadro’s Number/constant is not a factor - only the size of the “king’s foot”; in this case “Le Gran K” or an article representing it. Science takes second place in this realm.
posted by Joel Williams
March 13, 2013
JSTOR, the online academic archive, now contains complete back issues of American Scientist from its inception in 1913 (as Sigma Xi Quarterly) through 2005.
The table of contents for each issue is freely available to all users; those with institutional access can read each complete issue.
View the full collection here.
A free daily summary of the latest news in scientific research. Each story is summarized concisely and linked directly to the original source for further reading.
An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns,
and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.
News of book reviews published in
and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.
To sign up for automatic emails of the
Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an
online profile, then sign up in the
My AmSci area.