Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, or material world or universe. "Nature" can refer to the phenomena of the physical world, to life in general. The study of nature is a large, part of science. Although humans are part of nature, human activity is understood as a separate category from other natural phenomena; the word nature is derived from the Latin word natura, or "essential qualities, innate disposition", in ancient times meant "birth". Natura is a Latin translation of the Greek word physis, which related to the intrinsic characteristics that plants and other features of the world develop of their own accord; the concept of nature as a whole, the physical universe, is one of several expansions of the original notion. This usage continued during the advent of modern scientific method in the last several centuries. Within the various uses of the word today, "nature" refers to geology and wildlife. Nature can refer to the general realm of living plants and animals, in some cases to the processes associated with inanimate objects—the way that particular types of things exist and change of their own accord, such as the weather and geology of the Earth.
It is taken to mean the "natural environment" or wilderness—wild animals, forest, in general those things that have not been altered by human intervention, or which persist despite human intervention. For example, manufactured objects and human interaction are not considered part of nature, unless qualified as, for example, "human nature" or "the whole of nature"; this more traditional concept of natural things which can still be found today implies a distinction between the natural and the artificial, with the artificial being understood as that, brought into being by a human consciousness or a human mind. Depending on the particular context, the term "natural" might be distinguished from the unnatural or the supernatural. Earth is the only planet known to support life, its natural features are the subject of many fields of scientific research. Within the solar system, it is third closest to the sun, its most prominent climatic features are its two large polar regions, two narrow temperate zones, a wide equatorial tropical to subtropical region.
Precipitation varies with location, from several metres of water per year to less than a millimetre. 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by salt-water oceans. The remainder consists of continents and islands, with most of the inhabited land in the Northern Hemisphere. Earth has evolved through geological and biological processes that have left traces of the original conditions; the outer surface is divided into several migrating tectonic plates. The interior remains active, with a thick layer of plastic mantle and an iron-filled core that generates a magnetic field; this iron core is composed of a solid inner phase, a fluid outer phase. Convective motion in the core generates electric currents through dynamo action, these, in turn, generate the geomagnetic field; the atmospheric conditions have been altered from the original conditions by the presence of life-forms, which create an ecological balance that stabilizes the surface conditions. Despite the wide regional variations in climate by latitude and other geographic factors, the long-term average global climate is quite stable during interglacial periods, variations of a degree or two of average global temperature have had major effects on the ecological balance, on the actual geography of the Earth.
Geology is the study of the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the Earth. The field of geology encompasses the study of the composition, physical properties and history of Earth materials, the processes by which they are formed and changed; the field is a major academic discipline, is important for mineral and hydrocarbon extraction, knowledge about and mitigation of natural hazards, some Geotechnical engineering fields, understanding past climates and environments. The geology of an area evolves through time as rock units are deposited and inserted and deformational processes change their shapes and locations. Rock units are first emplaced either by deposition onto the surface or intrude into the overlying rock. Deposition can occur when sediments settle onto the surface of the Earth and lithify into sedimentary rock, or when as volcanic material such as volcanic ash or lava flows, blanket the surface. Igneous intrusions such as batholiths, laccoliths and sills, push upwards into the overlying rock, crystallize as they intrude.
After the initial sequence of rocks has been deposited, the rock units can be deformed and/or metamorphosed. Deformation occurs as a result of horizontal shortening, horizontal extension, or side-to-side motion; these structural regimes broadly relate to convergent boundaries, divergent boundaries, transform boundaries between tectonic plates. Earth is estimated to have formed 4.54 billion years ago from the solar nebula, along with the Sun and other planets. The moon formed 20 million years later. Molten, the outer layer of the Earth cooled, resulting in the solid crust. Outgassing and volcanic activity produced the primordial atmosphere. Condensing water vapor, most or all of which came from ice delivered by comets, produced the oceans and other water sources; the energetic chemistry is believed to have produced a self-replicat
Speed of light
The speed of light in vacuum denoted c, is a universal physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its exact value is 299,792,458 metres per second, it is exact because by international agreement a metre is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299792458 second. According to special relativity, c is the maximum speed at which all conventional matter and hence all known forms of information in the universe can travel. Though this speed is most associated with light, it is in fact the speed at which all massless particles and changes of the associated fields travel in vacuum; such particles and waves travel at c regardless of the motion of the source or the inertial reference frame of the observer. In the special and general theories of relativity, c interrelates space and time, appears in the famous equation of mass–energy equivalence E = mc2; the speed at which light propagates through transparent materials, such as glass or air, is less than c.
The ratio between c and the speed v at which light travels in a material is called the refractive index n of the material. For example, for visible light the refractive index of glass is around 1.5, meaning that light in glass travels at c / 1.5 ≈ 200,000 km/s. For many practical purposes and other electromagnetic waves will appear to propagate instantaneously, but for long distances and sensitive measurements, their finite speed has noticeable effects. In communicating with distant space probes, it can take minutes to hours for a message to get from Earth to the spacecraft, or vice versa; the light seen from stars left them many years ago, allowing the study of the history of the universe by looking at distant objects. The finite speed of light limits the theoretical maximum speed of computers, since information must be sent within the computer from chip to chip; the speed of light can be used with time of flight measurements to measure large distances to high precision. Ole Rømer first demonstrated in 1676 that light travels at a finite speed by studying the apparent motion of Jupiter's moon Io.
In 1865, James Clerk Maxwell proposed that light was an electromagnetic wave, therefore travelled at the speed c appearing in his theory of electromagnetism. In 1905, Albert Einstein postulated that the speed of light c with respect to any inertial frame is a constant and is independent of the motion of the light source, he explored the consequences of that postulate by deriving the theory of relativity and in doing so showed that the parameter c had relevance outside of the context of light and electromagnetism. After centuries of precise measurements, in 1975 the speed of light was known to be 299792458 m/s with a measurement uncertainty of 4 parts per billion. In 1983, the metre was redefined in the International System of Units as the distance travelled by light in vacuum in 1/299792458 of a second; the speed of light in vacuum is denoted by a lowercase c, for "constant" or the Latin celeritas. In 1856, Wilhelm Eduard Weber and Rudolf Kohlrausch had used c for a different constant shown to equal √2 times the speed of light in vacuum.
The symbol V was used as an alternative symbol for the speed of light, introduced by James Clerk Maxwell in 1865. In 1894, Paul Drude redefined c with its modern meaning. Einstein used V in his original German-language papers on special relativity in 1905, but in 1907 he switched to c, which by had become the standard symbol for the speed of light. Sometimes c is used for the speed of waves in any material medium, c0 for the speed of light in vacuum; this subscripted notation, endorsed in official SI literature, has the same form as other related constants: namely, μ0 for the vacuum permeability or magnetic constant, ε0 for the vacuum permittivity or electric constant, Z0 for the impedance of free space. This article uses c for the speed of light in vacuum. Since 1983, the metre has been defined in the International System of Units as the distance light travels in vacuum in 1⁄299792458 of a second; this definition fixes the speed of light in vacuum at 299,792,458 m/s. As a dimensional physical constant, the numerical value of c is different for different unit systems.
In branches of physics in which c appears such as in relativity, it is common to use systems of natural units of measurement or the geometrized unit system where c = 1. Using these units, c does not appear explicitly because multiplication or division by 1 does not affect the result; the speed at which light waves propagate in vacuum is independent both of the motion of the wave source and of the inertial frame of reference of the observer. This invariance of the speed of light was postulated by Einstein in 1905, after being motivated by Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism and the lack of evidence for the luminiferous aether, it is only possible to verify experimentally that the two-way speed of light is frame-independent, because it is impossible to measure the one-way speed of light without some convention as to how clocks at the source and at the detector should be synchronized. However
The kilogram or kilogramme is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units. Until 20 May 2019, it remains defined by a platinum alloy cylinder, the International Prototype Kilogram, manufactured in 1889, stored in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris. After 20 May, it will be defined in terms of fundamental physical constants; the kilogram was defined as the mass of a litre of water. That was an inconvenient quantity to replicate, so in 1799 a platinum artefact was fashioned to define the kilogram; that artefact, the IPK, have been the standard of the unit of mass for the metric system since. In spite of best efforts to maintain it, the IPK has diverged from its replicas by 50 micrograms since their manufacture late in the 19th century; this led to efforts to develop measurement technology precise enough to allow replacing the kilogram artifact with a definition based directly on physical phenomena, now scheduled to take place in 2019. The new definition is based on invariant constants of nature, in particular the Planck constant, which will change to being defined rather than measured, thereby fixing the value of the kilogram in terms of the second and the metre, eliminating the need for the IPK.
The new definition was approved by the General Conference on Weights and Measures on 16 November 2018. The Planck constant relates a light particle's energy, hence mass, to its frequency; the new definition only became possible when instruments were devised to measure the Planck constant with sufficient accuracy based on the IPK definition of the kilogram. The gram, 1/1000 of a kilogram, was provisionally defined in 1795 as the mass of one cubic centimetre of water at the melting point of ice; the final kilogram, manufactured as a prototype in 1799 and from which the International Prototype Kilogram was derived in 1875, had a mass equal to the mass of 1 dm3 of water under atmospheric pressure and at the temperature of its maximum density, 4 °C. The kilogram is the only named SI unit with an SI prefix as part of its name; until the 2019 redefinition of SI base units, it was the last SI unit, still directly defined by an artefact rather than a fundamental physical property that could be independently reproduced in different laboratories.
Three other base units and 17 derived units in the SI system are defined in relation to the kilogram, thus its stability is important. The definitions of only eight other named SI units do not depend on the kilogram: those of temperature and frequency, angle; the IPK is used or handled. Copies of the IPK kept by national metrology laboratories around the world were compared with the IPK in 1889, 1948, 1989 to provide traceability of measurements of mass anywhere in the world back to the IPK; the International Prototype Kilogram was commissioned by the General Conference on Weights and Measures under the authority of the Metre Convention, in the custody of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures who hold it on behalf of the CGPM. After the International Prototype Kilogram had been found to vary in mass over time relative to its reproductions, the International Committee for Weights and Measures recommended in 2005 that the kilogram be redefined in terms of a fundamental constant of nature.
At its 2011 meeting, the CGPM agreed in principle that the kilogram should be redefined in terms of the Planck constant, h. The decision was deferred until 2014. CIPM has proposed revised definitions of the SI base units, for consideration at the 26th CGPM; the formal vote, which took place on 16 November 2018, approved the change, with the new definitions coming into force on 20 May 2019. The accepted redefinition defines the Planck constant as 6.62607015×10−34 kg⋅m2⋅s−1, thereby defining the kilogram in terms of the second and the metre. Since the second and metre are defined in terms of physical constants, the kilogram is defined in terms of physical constants only; the avoirdupois pound, used in both the imperial and US customary systems, is now defined in terms of the kilogram. Other traditional units of weight and mass around the world are now defined in terms of the kilogram, making the kilogram the primary standard for all units of mass on Earth; the word kilogramme or kilogram is derived from the French kilogramme, which itself was a learned coinage, prefixing the Greek stem of χίλιοι khilioi "a thousand" to gramma, a Late Latin term for "a small weight", itself from Greek γράμμα.
The word kilogramme was written into French law in 1795, in the Decree of 18 Germinal, which revised the older system of units introduced by the French National Convention in 1793, where the gravet had been defined as weight of a cubic centimetre of water, equal to 1/1000 of a grave. In the decree of 1795, the term gramme thus replaced gravet, kilogramme replaced grave; the French spelling was adopted in Great Britain when the word was used for the first time in English in 1795, with the spelling kilogram being adopted in the United States. In the United Kingdom both spellings are used, with "kilogram" having become by far the more common. UK law regulating the units to be used when trading by weight or measure does not prevent the use of either spelling. In the 19th century the French word kilo, a shortening of kilogramme, was imported into the English language where it has been used to mean both kilogram and kilometre. While kilo is acceptable in many generalist texts
In everyday use and in kinematics, the speed of an object is the magnitude of its velocity. The average speed of an object in an interval of time is the distance travelled by the object divided by the duration of the interval. Speed has the dimensions of distance divided by time; the SI unit of speed is the metre per second, but the most common unit of speed in everyday usage is the kilometre per hour or, in the US and the UK, miles per hour. For air and marine travel the knot is used; the fastest possible speed at which energy or information can travel, according to special relativity, is the speed of light in a vacuum c = 299792458 metres per second. Matter can not quite reach the speed of light. In relativity physics, the concept of rapidity replaces the classical idea of speed. Italian physicist Galileo Galilei is credited with being the first to measure speed by considering the distance covered and the time it takes. Galileo defined speed as the distance covered per unit of time. In equation form, v = d t, where v is speed, d is distance, t is time.
A cyclist who covers 30 metres in a time of 2 seconds, for example, has a speed of 15 metres per second. Objects in motion have variations in speed. Speed at some instant, or assumed constant during a short period of time, is called instantaneous speed. By looking at a speedometer, one can read the instantaneous speed of a car at any instant. A car travelling at 50 km/h goes for less than one hour at a constant speed, but if it did go at that speed for a full hour, it would travel 50 km. If the vehicle continued at that speed for half an hour, it would cover half that distance. If it continued for only one minute, it would cover about 833 m. In mathematical terms, the instantaneous speed v is defined as the magnitude of the instantaneous velocity v, that is, the derivative of the position r with respect to time: v = | v | = | r ˙ | = | d r d t |. If s is the length of the path travelled until time t, the speed equals the time derivative of s: v = d s d t. In the special case where the velocity is constant, this can be simplified to v = s / t.
The average speed over a finite time interval is the total distance travelled divided by the time duration. Different from instantaneous speed, average speed is defined as the total distance covered divided by the time interval. For example, if a distance of 80 kilometres is driven in 1 hour, the average speed is 80 kilometres per hour. If 320 kilometres are travelled in 4 hours, the average speed is 80 kilometres per hour; when a distance in kilometres is divided by a time in hours, the result is in kilometres per hour. Average speed does not describe the speed variations that may have taken place during shorter time intervals, so average speed is quite different from a value of instantaneous speed. If the average speed and the time of travel are known, the distance travelled can be calculated by rearranging the definition to d = v ¯ t. Using this equation for an average speed of 80 kilometres per hour on a 4-hour trip, the distance covered is found to be 320 kilometres. Expressed in graphical language, the slope of a tangent line at any point of a distance-time graph is the instantaneous speed at this point, while the slope of a chord line of the same graph is the average speed during the time interval covered by the chord.
Average speed of an object is Vav = s÷t Linear speed is the distance travelled per unit of time, while tangential speed is the linear speed of something moving along a circular path. A point on the outside edge of a merry-go-round or turntable travels a greater distance in one complete rotation than a point nearer the center. Travelling a greater distance in the same time means a greater speed, so linear speed is greater on the outer edge of a rotating object than it is closer to the axis; this speed along a circular path is known as tangential speed because the direction of motion is tangent to the circumference of the circle. For circular motion, the terms linear speed and tangential speed are used interchangeably, both use units of m/s, km/h, others. Rotational speed involves the number of revolutions per unit of time. All parts of a rigid merry-
Vacuum is space devoid of matter. The word stems from the Latin adjective vacuus for "vacant" or "void". An approximation to such vacuum is a region with a gaseous pressure much less than atmospheric pressure. Physicists discuss ideal test results that would occur in a perfect vacuum, which they sometimes call "vacuum" or free space, use the term partial vacuum to refer to an actual imperfect vacuum as one might have in a laboratory or in space. In engineering and applied physics on the other hand, vacuum refers to any space in which the pressure is lower than atmospheric pressure; the Latin term in vacuo is used to describe an object, surrounded by a vacuum. The quality of a partial vacuum refers to how it approaches a perfect vacuum. Other things equal, lower gas pressure means higher-quality vacuum. For example, a typical vacuum cleaner produces enough suction to reduce air pressure by around 20%. Much higher-quality vacuums are possible. Ultra-high vacuum chambers, common in chemistry and engineering, operate below one trillionth of atmospheric pressure, can reach around 100 particles/cm3.
Outer space is an higher-quality vacuum, with the equivalent of just a few hydrogen atoms per cubic meter on average in intergalactic space. According to modern understanding if all matter could be removed from a volume, it would still not be "empty" due to vacuum fluctuations, dark energy, transiting gamma rays, cosmic rays and other phenomena in quantum physics. In the study of electromagnetism in the 19th century, vacuum was thought to be filled with a medium called aether. In modern particle physics, the vacuum state is considered the ground state of a field. Vacuum has been a frequent topic of philosophical debate since ancient Greek times, but was not studied empirically until the 17th century. Evangelista Torricelli produced the first laboratory vacuum in 1643, other experimental techniques were developed as a result of his theories of atmospheric pressure. A torricellian vacuum is created by filling a tall glass container closed at one end with mercury, inverting it in a bowl to contain the mercury.
Vacuum became a valuable industrial tool in the 20th century with the introduction of incandescent light bulbs and vacuum tubes, a wide array of vacuum technology has since become available. The recent development of human spaceflight has raised interest in the impact of vacuum on human health, on life forms in general; the word vacuum comes from Latin, meaning'an empty space, void', noun use of neuter of vacuus, meaning "empty", related to vacare, meaning "be empty". Vacuum is one of the few words in the English language that contains two consecutive letters'u'. There has been much dispute over whether such a thing as a vacuum can exist. Ancient Greek philosophers debated the existence of a vacuum, or void, in the context of atomism, which posited void and atom as the fundamental explanatory elements of physics. Following Plato the abstract concept of a featureless void faced considerable skepticism: it could not be apprehended by the senses, it could not, provide additional explanatory power beyond the physical volume with which it was commensurate and, by definition, it was quite nothing at all, which cannot rightly be said to exist.
Aristotle believed that no void could occur because the denser surrounding material continuum would fill any incipient rarity that might give rise to a void. In his Physics, book IV, Aristotle offered numerous arguments against the void: for example, that motion through a medium which offered no impediment could continue ad infinitum, there being no reason that something would come to rest anywhere in particular. Although Lucretius argued for the existence of vacuum in the first century BC and Hero of Alexandria tried unsuccessfully to create an artificial vacuum in the first century AD, it was European scholars such as Roger Bacon, Blasius of Parma and Walter Burley in the 13th and 14th century who focused considerable attention on these issues. Following Stoic physics in this instance, scholars from the 14th century onward departed from the Aristotelian perspective in favor of a supernatural void beyond the confines of the cosmos itself, a conclusion acknowledged by the 17th century, which helped to segregate natural and theological concerns.
Two thousand years after Plato, René Descartes proposed a geometrically based alternative theory of atomism, without the problematic nothing–everything dichotomy of void and atom. Although Descartes agreed with the contemporary position, that a vacuum does not occur in nature, the success of his namesake coordinate system and more implicitly, the spatial–corporeal component of his metaphysics would come to define the philosophically modern notion of empty space as a quantified extension of volume. By the ancient definition however, directional information and magnitude were conceptually distinct. In the medieval Middle Eastern world, the physicist and Islamic scholar, Al-Farabi, conducted a small experiment concerning the existence of vacuum, in which he investigated handheld plungers in water, he concluded that air's volume can expand to fill available space, he suggested that the concept of perfect vacuum was incoherent. However, according to Nader El-Bizri, the physicist Ibn al-Haytham and the Mu'tazili theologians disagreed with Aristotle and Al-Farabi, they supported the existence of a void.
Using geometry, Ibn al-Haytham mathematically demonstrated that place is the imagined three-dimensional void between the inner surfaces of a containing body. According to Ahmad Dallal, Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī states that "there is no observable
Mass is both a property of a physical body and a measure of its resistance to acceleration when a net force is applied. The object's mass determines the strength of its gravitational attraction to other bodies; the basic SI unit of mass is the kilogram. In physics, mass is not the same as weight though mass is determined by measuring the object's weight using a spring scale, rather than balance scale comparing it directly with known masses. An object on the Moon would weigh less than it does on Earth because of the lower gravity, but it would still have the same mass; this is because weight is a force, while mass is the property that determines the strength of this force. There are several distinct phenomena. Although some theorists have speculated that some of these phenomena could be independent of each other, current experiments have found no difference in results regardless of how it is measured: Inertial mass measures an object's resistance to being accelerated by a force. Active gravitational mass measures the gravitational force exerted by an object.
Passive gravitational mass measures the gravitational force exerted on an object in a known gravitational field. The mass of an object determines its acceleration in the presence of an applied force; the inertia and the inertial mass describe the same properties of physical bodies at the qualitative and quantitative level by other words, the mass quantitatively describes the inertia. According to Newton's second law of motion, if a body of fixed mass m is subjected to a single force F, its acceleration a is given by F/m. A body's mass determines the degree to which it generates or is affected by a gravitational field. If a first body of mass mA is placed at a distance r from a second body of mass mB, each body is subject to an attractive force Fg = GmAmB/r2, where G = 6.67×10−11 N kg−2 m2 is the "universal gravitational constant". This is sometimes referred to as gravitational mass. Repeated experiments since the 17th century have demonstrated that inertial and gravitational mass are identical.
The standard International System of Units unit of mass is the kilogram. The kilogram is 1000 grams, first defined in 1795 as one cubic decimeter of water at the melting point of ice. However, because precise measurement of a decimeter of water at the proper temperature and pressure was difficult, in 1889 the kilogram was redefined as the mass of the international prototype kilogram of cast iron, thus became independent of the meter and the properties of water. However, the mass of the international prototype and its identical national copies have been found to be drifting over time, it is expected that the re-definition of the kilogram and several other units will occur on May 20, 2019, following a final vote by the CGPM in November 2018. The new definition will use only invariant quantities of nature: the speed of light, the caesium hyperfine frequency, the Planck constant. Other units are accepted for use in SI: the tonne is equal to 1000 kg. the electronvolt is a unit of energy, but because of the mass–energy equivalence it can be converted to a unit of mass, is used like one.
In this context, the mass has units of eV/c2. The electronvolt and its multiples, such as the MeV, are used in particle physics; the atomic mass unit is 1/12 of the mass of a carbon-12 atom 1.66×10−27 kg. The atomic mass unit is convenient for expressing the masses of molecules. Outside the SI system, other units of mass include: the slug is an Imperial unit of mass; the pound is a unit of both mass and force, used in the United States. In scientific contexts where pound and pound need to be distinguished, SI units are used instead; the Planck mass is the maximum mass of point particles. It is used in particle physics; the solar mass is defined as the mass of the Sun. It is used in astronomy to compare large masses such as stars or galaxies; the mass of a small particle may be identified by its inverse Compton wavelength. The mass of a large star or black hole may be identified with its Schwarzschild radius. In physical science, one may distinguish conceptually between at least seven different aspects of mass, or seven physical notions that involve the concept of mass.
Every experiment to date has shown these seven values to be proportional, in some cases equal, this proportionality gives rise to the abstract concept of mass. There are a number of ways mass can be measured or operationally defined: Inertial mass is a measure of an object's resistance to acceleration when a force is applied, it is determined by applying a force to an object and measuring the acceleration that results from that force. An object with small inertial mass will accelerate more than an object with large inertial mass when acted upon by the same force. One says. Active gravitational mass is a measure of the strength of an object's gravitational flux. Gravitational field can be measured by allowing a small "test object" to fall and measuring its free-fall acceleration. For example, an object in free fall near the Moon is subject to a smaller gravitational field, hence
The Planck constant is a physical constant, the quantum of electromagnetic action, which relates the energy carried by a photon to its frequency. A photon's energy is equal to its frequency multiplied by the Planck constant; the Planck constant is of fundamental importance in quantum mechanics, in metrology it is the basis for the definition of the kilogram. At the end of the 19th century, physicists were unable to explain why the observed spectrum of black body radiation, which by had been measured, diverged at higher frequencies from that predicted by existing theories. In 1900, Max Planck empirically derived a formula for the observed spectrum, he assumed that a hypothetical electrically charged oscillator in a cavity that contained black body radiation could only change its energy in a minimal increment, E, proportional to the frequency of its associated electromagnetic wave. He was able to calculate the proportionality constant, h, from the experimental measurements, that constant is named in his honor.
In 1905, the value E was associated by Albert Einstein with a "quantum" or minimal element of the energy of the electromagnetic wave itself. The light quantum behaved in some respects as an electrically neutral particle, as opposed to an electromagnetic wave, it was called a photon. Max Planck received the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics "in recognition of the services he rendered to the advancement of Physics by his discovery of energy quanta". Since energy and mass are equivalent, the Planck constant relates mass to frequency. By 2017, the Planck constant had been measured with sufficient accuracy in terms of the SI base units, that it was central to replacing the metal cylinder, called the International Prototype of the Kilogram, that had defined the kilogram since 1889; the new definition was unanimously approved at the General Conference on Weights and Measures on 16 November 2018 as part of the 2019 redefinition of SI base units. For this new definition of the kilogram, the Planck constant, as defined by the ISO standard, was set to 6.62607015×10−34 J⋅s exactly.
The kilogram was the last SI base unit to be re-defined by a fundamental physical property to replace a physical artefact. In the last years of the 19th century, Max Planck was investigating the problem of black-body radiation first posed by Kirchhoff some 40 years earlier; every physical body continuously emits electromagnetic radiation. At low frequencies, Planck's law tends to the Rayleigh–Jeans law, while in the limit of high frequencies it tends to the Wien approximation but there was no overall expression or explanation for the shape of the observed emission spectrum. Approaching this problem, Planck hypothesized that the equations of motion for light describe a set of harmonic oscillators, one for each possible frequency, he examined how the entropy of the oscillators varied with the temperature of the body, trying to match Wien's law, was able to derive an approximate mathematical function for black-body spectrum. To create Planck's law, which predicts blackbody emissions by fitting the observed curves, he multiplied the classical expression by a complex factor that involves a constant, h, in both the numerator and the denominator, which subsequently became known as the Planck Constant.
The spectral radiance of a body, Bν, describes the amount of energy it emits at different radiation frequencies. It is the power emitted per unit area of the body, per unit solid angle of emission, per unit frequency. Planck showed that the spectral radiance of a body for frequency ν at absolute temperature T is given by B ν = 2 h ν 3 c 2 1 e h ν k B T − 1 where kB is the Boltzmann constant, h is the Planck constant, c is the speed of light in the medium, whether material or vacuum; the spectral radiance can be expressed per unit wavelength λ instead of per unit frequency. In this case, it is given by B λ = 2 h c 2 λ 5 1 e h c λ k B T − 1. Showing how radiated energy emitted at shorter wavelengths increases more with temperature than energy emitted at longer wavelengths; the law may be expressed in other terms, such as the number of photons emitted at a certain wavelength, or the energy density in a volume of radiation. The SI units of Bν are W·sr−1·m−2·Hz−1, while those of Bλ are W·sr−1·m−3.
Planck soon realized. There were several different solutions, each of which gave a different value for the entropy of the oscillators. To save his theory, Planck resorted to using the then-controversial theory of statistical mechanics, which he described as "an act of despair … I was ready to sacrifice any of my previous convictions about physics." One of his new boundary conditions was to interpret UN [the vibrational energy