Talk:Kilogram/Archive 3

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5 Archive 7

Some suggestions

1. Organization. I think the section "proposed future definitions" should directly follow "Stability of the International Prototype Kilogram." Why is "SI multiples" the second section? It seems like essentially a reference guide that readers will go directly to or something that someone might be interested in if they are so interested in the kilogram that they've read the entire article. It doesn't seem like something that most readers are likely to want to read. Everyone already knows that I don’t agree with the inclusion of extensive discussion of “mass v. weight” in this article, but even if it should be here, why are there separate sections entitled “The nature of mass” and “Mass vs. weight”? For the record, I’m mostly happy with the contents of “The nature of mass” although I would incorporate that subject into a larger section. I also think that the information in “Importance of the kilogram” section should go into the stability section. Enuja (talk) 08:03, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

2. Lead section The use of the phrase "deprecated unit" might be confusing to many readers, and I do not understand why whether or not the pound is a measure of mass (and that there is a pound-force) should be in the lead of an article about the kilogram. Also, lead sections should summarize the entire article, and the current lead section leaves much out. I suggest

The kilogram or kilogramme (symbol: kg) is the SI base unit of mass. The kilogram was originally defined as being the mass of one liter of water, but has been defined as the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram since 1889. It is the only SI base unit with an SI prefix as part of its name and also the only SI unit that is still defined in relation to an artifact rather than to a fundamental physical property that can be reproduced in different laboratories.
The avoirdupois pound, the unit of mass in both the Imperial system and U.S. customary units, is defined as exactly 0.453 592 37 kg, which is to say, one kilogram is approximately equal to 2.205 avoirdupois pounds.
Many units in the SI system are defined relative to the kilogram, so a stable definition is important. The ‘’International Prototype Kilogram’’ has been found to vary in mass over time, so the International Committee for Weights and Measures recommended in 2005 that the kilogram be redefined in terms of fundamental constants. There are several different possible approaches for a new definition of the kilogram.
While the weight of objects are often given in kilograms, the kilogram is a unit of mass. Because weight is a force, the SI unit for weight is the Newton, but there is also a non-SI unit of weight called the kilogram-force.

I’m not sure where the paragraph about the conversion between pounds and kilograms should go. There isn’t any of that in the text of the article, so if we follow Wikipedia:Lead section, it shouldn’t be in the lead. Of course, it needs to be in the article, and I think it probably needs to be in the lead, but as I go through and summarize the article, there isn’t a neat place for it. Any ideas? I’m also not sure if the CIPM’s recommendation in 2005 had anything to do with the instability in the IPK, so I don’t want to put that sentence in the lead until I confirm that. Enuja (talk) 08:03, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

3. Citations This article has a lot of new (correct! yeah!) information in it, but much of that information is lacking inline citations. The “Importance of the Kilogram” and lead sections, for example, currently have no inline citations. This should really be high on all of our to-do lists for this article. Unfortunately, I do not possess any good references for physics at all, but hopefully I'll be able to use any online-accessible references that Greg L has provided and put them in additional places that they need to be. Enuja (talk) 08:03, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Let's take a 37,000-foot view of the issue of citations. Here's what the citations looked like before I started on it recently. And one of them, #4, is one I added much earlier. Here’s what it looks like now. The citations in “Stability of the kilogram” are en-mass at the end of the sections. They would be the same reference, cited too many times to go in-line. Regarding “Importance of the kilogram”, everything there comes straight out of current Wikipedia articles. Just study the SI units. Greg L (my talk) 00:49, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I do not want to take any energy away from improving the article; I want to work on improving the article here. I'm gunning for good article status and even featured article status eventually, so I'm trying to follow the good article criteria, which suggests using inline citations. Of course, the manual of style gives the option of using general references throughout and then putting them in a references section, but there isn't currently a general references section in the article, and that doesn't appear to be the most appreciated style in good and featured article review. I can't find specific policies on it, but I'm pretty sure one can use a single inline citation for an entire paragraph. That's all I'm suggesting. Enuja (talk) 04:36, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Notes: I am suggesting changes here instead of simply editing the article because I am aware that there is not currently a unanimous consensus about the scope of this article. Until we come to a consensus, I will make any suggestions on the talk page before editing the article. I do not mean to make other people do the actual editing for me; I am more than willing to edit once there is agreement on this talk page about phrasing or organization. I am very willing to do collaborative copy editing on the live article page, but I’d at least like to know that other editors agree with my general direction of editing before I change the article. Also, I have split my comments into numbered sections, so I would appreciate that any response to my comments goes between the sections or after this response as a whole, so I can follow the conversation more clearly. Enuja (talk) 08:03, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

  • Enuja, I appreciate your being up-front. I don’t particularly like the word “deprecated” (didn't even look it up), but I see that it’s used elsewhere on Wikipedia articles on SI units and thought it would be an uphill battle to fight it. As a matter of fact, I believe JimWae added that one. Rule #1 is choose your battles carefully. As you can see, I'm still moving things around and making substantial changes and additions. I have noted over the years, after having worked on other articles just as intensively as this one, that most edits by unregistered authors occur 1) early in the article because of attention-span issues, and 2) after school starts and college students start researching things. The most common such edits are ones where A) they understand the point but didn't think it clear enough and revise it, or B) they didn't understand the point and completely blow it with an edit. In either case, the confusing text gets improved, one way or another. As for commenting on your other thoughts, I've been at this for a while today (this week actually) and am burnt. I will comment on your other points later. I did note that some of your comments pertained to the opening definition. I guarantee you that a high-profile article like this one (just look at the number of “other languages” links) would receive lots of edits—especially in its early parts—if it was truly wanting in some regard. I encourage you in the mean time, to be patient and allow other editors to weigh in and have a crack at it. Sit back and watch. If someone adds or revises something, fix it if it needs correcting or improving. If you have a particularly timely issue you want addressed, please leave a note on my talk page; I get an alert banner up top when one does so. Greg L (my talk) 00:49, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Enuja, After more back & forth with you-know-who from the NIST, I obtained more Metrologia articles and have revised the ‘Stability’ section accordingly. Per your suggestion, I also got rid of the early use of “deprecated” as too obscure a word too early in the article. I’ve also added your suggested paragraph giving early mention of the need for a new definition of the kilogram. I've left the discussion regarding the pound being also a unit of mass. While researching for this article, I ran across some Web site where NASA scientists try to help out with simple questions from ‘civilian folk.’ This scientist parroted the old saw about how the pound is a unit force but the kilogram®™© is uniquely a unit of mass. This is a damn common misconception. I've known for decades that there is a precise conversion from the kilogram to the pound but I never quite noticed the logical dissonance between that fact and the misconception that the pound is a unit of force. This is one of the few contributions of JimWae’s that I thought was truly damn good and I want to honor his contributions (now rather diluted) and leave it right where it is. I think it serves a valuable purpose and his instinct was spot-on. Greg L (my talk) 21:40, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
  • So, I went and edited the lead section. I preserved both the "pound is a unit of mass" stuff and the definition of the pound, but I put them together so they look more like they belong. I tried not to cut out any information, but I failed. I simply couldn't find a good place to put the "since the 1893 redefinition" bit, so I took it out. If anyone thinks it belongs and can find a place to put it, I will be very grateful for your edits. Also, I re-ordered the sentence about the definition of the pound. Since this is an article on the kilogram, I think it makes sense to put 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds first (thinking in terms of the kilogram on its own article) and the definition second. Greg L, I know you flipped the order on those clauses before; is there a reason you think it makes sense to have it as the definition first, or was that just an edit for flow? Enuja (talk) 03:49, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
  • I like your new organization Enuja. Thanks. The “1893” thing was something I added after JimWae wrote “Since the redefinition of…” I thought that some would interpret the “redefinition” as some sort of recent event. Now that it no longer speaks of a redefinition, I didn’t even notice the absence of ‘1893’ until I read your above statement. It's probably better to leave ‘1893’ out since it’s just added specificity to an already tangential issue. I edited the last sentence for three reasons, none of which are matters of right or wrong: 1) Flow, so the sentences don't start with ‘kilogram’ then ‘pound’, then ‘kilogram’; 2) To put the definition first and the consequence afterwards; and 3) the ‘because’ style is frequently used by Wikipedia authors as a semi-defensive buttress to a point (“[this] is the case because of this [fact]”). In other words, the ‘because’ form has been tarnished as a weak declaration of fact on Wikipedia and seems a less-than-encyclopedic construct to me. That’s my opinion. Greg L (my talk) 22:24, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
  • I know of at least eight other foreign-language Wikipedia sites where the authors must have visited this English-language version: here, Danish, here, Italian, Hungarian, Japanese, Russian, and Serbian. I know of no other way for them to have learned of the illustration’s existence than to have visited here. Greg L (my talk) 22:42, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

There is nothing really wrong with replacing the link to a redirect (SI), but I used the redirect in hopes of keeping the page source simpler and easier to read. See WP:REDIRECT#Do_not_change_links_to_redirects_that_are_not_broken for future reference. Enuja (talk) 19:18, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Understood. What you did was no mistake. I personally hate seeing “Redirected from….” Never trusted that they would work in the future. And they seem like an abandoned orphan to me because deleted articles redirect to replacement articles (like Heat capacity, which used to be a its own article). Old links still say “heat capacity” because no one updated them. Accordingly, purposefully not aliasing a link, like you did, gets tarnished with the ‘excuse our dust, we’re still under construction’ paintbrush. I read the above link. “[M]akes the article more difficult to read in page source form”? Good heavens! My code for this number… 1.602 176 487(40) × 10–19
…is as follows:
1.602<font size="-1">&nbsp;</font>176<font size="-1">&nbsp;</font>487(40)&nbsp;×&nbsp;10<sup>–19</sup>

It doesn’t look all spaced-out and do end-of-line breaks, e.g. 1.602 176 487(40)
× 10-19
Of course, I also take time to do small things that don’t make the code more cumbersome, like…
“typographers’ quotes”, rather than "barbarian's (straight) quotes".
• Hyphens in the world’s tallest free-standing building.
En-dashes in the range of years it was constructed (2002–2009)
Em-dashes in semi-parenthetical clauses and asides—you know, like this—rather than endless chains of commas.

Take a look at the space between the ‘General section’ footnote and the ‘Report to the CGPM’ footnote here. The line with the superscripted “108” adds as much leading to its last line as an entire note break following it. Your eye has to scan back to the num^ to see where a note ends and a new one starts. So I add more space with code between notes like these. Coding these little touches requires extra effort to lay out the page. All to make things look better. Like in high-quality printed textbooks. More work. Almost makes a simple aliased link like “[[International Committee for Weights and Measures|CIPM]]” look outright pretty. Greg L (my talk) 02:47, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
P.S.: While corresponding with my contact at the NIST, I offered a detailed conjecture as to why the IPK might be drifting 30 µg. He thought there might be something to it and forwarded it to the BIPM. Good old-fashioned, engineering background-based guess. We’ll see. Even if they think there’s something to it, it could take a long time to find out if it’s correct. Greg L (my talk) 03:05, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Improper use of the word “deprecated”

  • P.S.: I know you didn’t place the word (far from it; you advocated its deletion), but I deleted the second (and last) instance of deprecated from Kilogram after researching its definition. All official definitions and common usages for its meaning are entirely unlike the one implied by its use here. I think the most likely reason it was used here on Wikipedia is that a single author initially used it and others simply copied the term without looking up its true meaning. It actually means “to have been belittled or diminished” or in computer or technology fields, “To be invalidated or obsoleted by removing or flagging the item.Greg L (my talk) 22:07, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Weight vs. mass

The sentence "While the weight of objects are often given in kilograms, the kilogram is, in the strict scientific sense, a unit of mass" should be changed to reflect that the intention is to determine the mass, but the only scale available measures the weight instead. In other words, if I am on the space station and I request a kilogram of flour be sent up, I certainly do not want a kilogram-force in my microgravity, which would be many tonnes. So it isn't the weight that is being given in kilograms, it is that weighing is used to measure the mass, with an appropriate conversion for gravity. I have no suggestion for a better wording. 00:07, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

See scale (weighing) or the subsection of this article Kilogram#Types of scales and what they measure for a description of the act of massing an object. Suffice it to say that with a balance one is indeed measuring the mass of an object, not its weight. Whether the mass of a particular item was obtained with a spring scale, a balance, or whatever, the physical quantity of interest, however it was obtained, is mass.
But, looking at the language, I can see the problem you are probably having with the language. It is the mass that is given in kilograms, and it's simply incorrectly labeled "weight". I'm also not sure how to clarify the language for you. Enuja (talk) 01:46, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
  • And my 2¢: When the astronauts “weigh” themselves on the space stations, they get into a little sled, hold on tight, and it accelerates them back and forth to directly measure their mass in the total absence of gravity. Also, if an astronaut requests a kilogram of flour, they get a kilogram of flour; there is never any ambiguity since the meaning of a kilogram of something either has a conventional association with weight (good enough on Earth) or has a precise, scientific meaning that would ensure zero confusion with NASA. Also the U.S. Dept. of Commerce even has formal rules on the subject of “weight” being given in kilograms and pounds (see Pound (mass): Use in Commerce. Greg L (my talk) 04:17, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Hey let's not get silly. The wording is confusing. Two people have said so, neither of whom have a better suggestion. 04:29, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't think the wording is confusing. After re-reading both what you'd said and the wording a few times, I was able to figure out how one could misinterpret the sentence, and I haven't been able to think of a way to avoid that particular misinterpretation. However, I think the wording is clear and straightforward at the moment, and don't consider it confusing. This doesn't mean it can't be improved, but since no-one has a suggestion of how to improve it, the current wording does not bother me at all. Enuja (talk) 04:41, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
It is unclear because it is built upon an unstated assumption which is false; that weight is always something different from mass. It is founded upon a misunderstanding of the person writing it, that when weight is given in kilograms, it is intended to be a measurement of force, which in a "strictest sense" would be wrong. But that isn't the case at all; it is most often because the proper meaning of weight in that context is the same as the physics jargon meaning of the word mass. Kilograms are, in the "strictest sense", the proper units for that weight. Note that whenever anyone talks about "net weight" (in the sale of goods by weight, for example), that weight is never a force; it is the same as mass in the physics jargon meaning. "Net weight" is not physics terminology; it's longstanding meaning is quite correct and proper and legitimate, historically and linguistically and legally. That weight isn't ever measured in newtons; it shouldn't ever be measured in newtons. Note further that the same is true whenever anyone talks about "molecular weight" or "atomic weight"; that weight is never a force either. That weight isn't ever measured in newtons; it shouldn't ever be measured in newtons. Gene Nygaard 17:02, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
In other words, while "the kilogram is, in the strict scientific sense, a unit of mass" it is also at the same time true that in the strict scientific sense, those kilograms are indeed the proper units for those "weights given in kilograms". It isn't the word kilogram which is being used with a different meaning, but rather it is the word weight which is being used with a different and quite legitmate meaning. The way it is stated, the most obvious interpretation and the one most readers would make is that in that context the kilogram is being used with a slightly different and not quite correct meaning, but that isn't true despite the fact that there are indeed other contexts where the word kilogram is used standing alone to mean the distinct, different unit, the kilogram-force. That most often happens in things such as thrust of a rocket engine in "kilograms", in torque wrenches in "meter kilograms", and things like that, not in the measurement of something called "weight". Gene Nygaard 17:15, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

How about the wording "Although the mass of objects in kilograms is often described as a weight, the kilogram is, in the strict scientific sense, a unit of mass"? Because, however widely it is used, and however historically legitimate it is to say that I weigh 117 pounds, it is confusing and this, as an encyclopedia, should direct readers to understanding the difference between weight and mass. Enuja (talk) 20:44, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

From the frying pan into the fire? The last half doesn't fit in with the first half. It's just a non sequitur. What does "in the strictest sense" add to this? That still, despite being in conflict the new introductory clause, makes it sound like it is the kilogram which is being used with two different meanings—that it is being used in a nonstandard way, not as a unit of mass, when we talk about weight in kilograms. That simply is not true, except in rare instances such as discussions of the draw weight of a bow.
Sensible examples of real-world use of the kilogram-force would do more to clarify the point. That formerly acceptable unit, of course, is not a part of the modern metric system, the International System of Units. But all you need to do is check out the "What links here" there to see that it has by no means disappeared from the real world.
Maybe you need to understand that there is no difference and there should not be any difference, when we are talking about the word weight in its everyday sense, and mass in is physics jargon sense. It is just a poor choice of a word which physicists choose to use for the meanings they assign weight in their jargon when talking about the field of mechanics (but not, for example, when they like everyone else talk about molecular weight). We have every right to continue using the word weight as we have been using it ever since it entered Old English over 1000 years ago, for the quantity measured with a balance—in other words, for what is called mass in physics jargon. Of course, the word mass is likewise an ambiguous word with several different meanings, and that's part of the reason why we don't abandon our use of the word weight with that meaning. We don't want to talk about mass and get our listeners or readers confused with mass in the bodybuilding jargon sense, nor with mass in the meanings related to volume or bigness or taking up the whole field of view and the related adjective massive with those meanings. Gene Nygaard 22:59, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Forgot to ask. Do you think that the same problems exist when you talk about your weight as 117 pounds? Would you put in the pound article a statement like ""Although the mass of objects in pounds is often described as a weight, the pound is, in the strict scientific sense, a unit of mass"? The pound-force like the kilogram-force is a recent spin-off; they are units that were never well-defined before about the turn of the 20th century, when people first started choosing standard values to use for the acceleration of gravity so that these units could be well-defined in terms of the mass units on which they were based. Gene Nygaard 23:11, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
I was trying to avoid a linguistic discussion, because I think it's simply a matter of interpretation, and I happen to have a different interpretation than you do. Languages are constantly changing, and, when writing an encyclopedia, I think it is best to use the most specific, techincal definition, especially in science articles. Our articles need to be accessible, but they also need to be correct. Historic and lay terminology exist, but they shouldn't be allowed to obscure important distinctions about matter versus force (distinctions I personally use in everyday life). However, all of this disagreement about the linguistics of "weight" belongs in weight, not here at kilogram. Personally, I want all of the information about mass and weight to be linked to other articles, instead of being in this article, but User:Greg L has fought hard enough to keep it here that I'm not moving anything right now. I do think that early links to the article on weight and the kilogram-force are good things to have in this article; do you have alternative language for the second paragraph of the lead? Enuja (talk) 00:08, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
The "most specific, technical definition" in the context of legal metrology (see, e.g., OIML), in the contexts such as goods sold "by weight", is not determined by physicists. Fortunately, nobody ever gave them any say-so as to what weight means there. Terms such as "net weight" are not physics terms; I've never seen that used in a physics context. It is what it is and correctly so. It isn't obsolete, "historic" terminology. It is current, legally and linguistically correct usage today. Those "weights" in kilograms are using kilograms in their normal, proper sense as units of mass, and not as units of force--just as the same quantities when measured in pounds use the proper and legally prescribed pounds for this purpose. And furthermore, this article is every bit as much about the kilograms used in commerce or in sports or cooking or whatever, as it is about the kilograms used in any particular branch of science. Gene Nygaard 00:36, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't matter, here, what the English word "weight" means. What matters is that we bring up the subject that there are two different quantities; the force an object exerts due to gravity, and the amount of matter in the object; and that we give the reader opportunity to go read about these two different quantities and the difference between them. What language do you propose for the second paragraph of the lead to accomplish this goal (and to summarize the rest of the article)? Enuja (talk) 01:49, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
You are almost there, now that you are starting to talk about force vs. mass. Those are the quantities you need to distinguish.
It doesn't matter one whit that the word weight sometimes means mass in the physics jargon meaning, and at other times means a particular kind of force; you don't need to use that word to make the points you are trying to make in that regard.
Nonetheless, it is also useful to let the readers know that when you talk about mass, this is the same thing as what they call weight when they talk about a 2 kg bag of sugar, or for that matter when they give the weight of a diamond in carats or their own weight in stones and pounds (and, unlike the pound and the kilogram, the stone has never spun off a force unit of the same name, nor have some other units such as either the long or the short hundredweight and the troy pennyweight or the troy ounce, which are always units of mass). Gene Nygaard 02:44, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Image Size

Please do not use comments to have a discussion between editors. I removed the following comments from the image on the article page. Please continue your discussion here. Enuja (talk) 02:36, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

  • Please note that this picture, when displayed at 359 pixels, displays satisfactorily on monitors with a screen resolution of 800 × 600 pixels. This is the screen resolution assumed for modern Web development work and, as of late 2007, over 80% of Web usage is on screens that support at least this resolution. Although the minimum screen size for Web development is increasingly transitioning to 1024 × 768 pixels, picture sizes larger than 359 pixels crowd the adjacent text too much when displayed on 800 × 600 monitors. Conversely, picture sizes smaller than 359 pixels unnecessarily reduces image quality for the vast majority of today’s users. Note too that the precise size of 359 pixels reduces aliasing artifacts (jaggies) in the translation from the native file and results in a smoother appearance. Editors are asked to be mindful of these intricacies and the needs of the greater majority of users. Comment left by User:Greg L
  • However, making the image 280px provides for an exact scaling of the original image to 1/5 in the width and a close approximation in the height which would be corrected if the original image was redone at 1400x1000 allowing it to scale exactly. The needs of 640x480 and 800x600 screens can not be overcome if the image is over 300px because the TOC is covered by the image. However when using a 1280x1024 screen you can always click on the image to see it larger if you wish. Why are we using comments instead of discussing this on the talk page? Comment left by Special:Contributions/
  • Thanks Enuja. To “”: if you are going to continue to do meaningful contributions on Wikipedia, you should register so other editors can communicate better with you. Up until this ‘picture-size issue’, I have appreciated all the edits you’ve made so far. You've caught spelling errors and made valuable additions, like to the ‘ton of lead vs. ton of feathers’ paragraph. (Sorry, I confused you with another non-registered author.) You With regard to this picture-size issue, there seem to be two issues you’ve raised: 1) covering up of the TOC, and 2) even integer divisors (“magic numbers"). Please see Experiments in picture size on my talk page. I did this some time ago for quick reference when I work with other pictures. Sometimes, pictures work best with even divisors (like you seem to intuit ought to be the case for this picture). However, that isn’t always the case. As you can see on my user page, the IPK picture is a bit unusual: it has that bright groove down the ruler and the high-contrast graduations in the ruler. All this prominent detail in the ruler gets the jaggies when one uses even divisors. I was quite surprised myself by this. I had intended to use a 4X divisor and a finish size of 350 pixels. That’s why I made the original at a native resolution of 1400 pixels (I actually did the very original, anti-aliased ray tracing at 2800 and used a 2X divisor in Photoshop to reduce the jaggies even more). I tweaked for a while once I was in Wikipedia and found that 359 pixels really smoothes the picture out. As regards “covering up the TOC,”, what I stated in the Editors Note pretty much covered it. When first aiming for 350 pixels (later 359 to avoid jaggies), I adjusted my screen resolution from its native 1440 × 900 down to 800 × 600 and used three different browsers to confirm that all is well. I've also checked its appearance on three other computers that family members own. Going to such a small size may indeed work better on your system but the 359 size displays adequately on the vast majority of screens used for Web browsing in the U.S. Finally, 359 pixels isn’t an unusually large size for a Wikipedia picture: a process that is no-doubt the product of evolution (the test of time). And still, some pictures, like the one in Sunspot, go much bigger. Greg L (my talk) 03:37, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I would also like to thank Enuja for stopping us from being silly. The sunspot has a particular issue it tries to address, how to show a tiny dot the size of the earth. In that article the image is above the text and so it does not cover up anything, other than the Wiki nav's. The kilogram "photo" is not even a photo, but a computer generated image. Reducing it does not change anything that needs to be learned from seeing it. Enlarging it does cover up the TOC, though, which to me is not necessary. It's not like there is any sort of detail in the photo that you need to make the image that big to see - the smoothness of the cylinder? As to not using 280, there could be a prime number close to that which works better for you if that helps. Have you tried 293px or 277px? Normally I find that images get rendered better if you get to use integral divisors, however, when you have uniform lines, like a photo of a house with clapboards for example, you get horrible moire patterns. 04:22, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Given that I do most of my browsing at 1440 x 900, I didn't even understand what you were saying about the Sunspot picture. So I adjusted my monitor and had a look. Indeed, that 575-pixel-wide picture doesn't cover any text on an 800 x 600 monitor. All the text just re-flows under it. On larger monitors, the picture is placed to the right of the page and there is a large column of text flowing down the left-hand side of the page. For instance, I usually have my browser window in about a 1070-pixel-wide window. At that width, I see the following text to the left of the Sunspot picture:
A sunspot is a region on the Sun's surface
(photosphere) that is marked by a lower
temperature than its surroundings and has
intense magnetic activity, which inhibits…
That observation hinted at a potential solution here: move the picture up. Given that the technique works for a 575-pixel picture, it sure ought to work for a 359-pixel picture. Is that indeed the case? I just checked it at 800 × 600 and even at 640 × 480; it seems to. Here’s the column of text I see at 800 × 600:
The kilogram or kilogramme
(symbol: kg) is the SI base unit of
mass. The kilogram is defined as
being equal to the mass of the
International Prototype Kilogram
(IPK), which is almost exactly equal…
I am mindful however, that I originally had the picture up high like this and Enuja later moved it down. As I recall, that was to address more subtle, aesthetic issues. Enuja: what do you think of its current placement? I suspect the reason you moved it is because of the huge white space to the right of the TOC, right? Would it be better to get used to this (or just [hide] the TOC) or would it be better to shrink the picture? When had it set to 280 pixels, it had only 61% the area that it does now. Why not hide the TOC when the white space gets tiring.? Greg L (my talk) 05:17, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I fail to see the attraction of such a huge image. Most images on Wikipedia are small thumb's which can be clicked on if better resolution is desired. Since I am on dialup having to wait for a 359px image to render is like forever. I would much rather have it 180px and if I wanted to see it I could click on it, although 280px is more pleasing for this image. It is interesting that you are talking about the bright groove down the ruler - I didn't even know there was a ruler in the image. Now that I see that there is one I would suggest putting it in front of the cylinder instead of at the side. Frankly I read "computer generated" and went straight to the link that shows the real photo of the IPK in the bell jars.
Oddly enough the photo at sunspot is covered up by the top section of nav's (navigation) and covers up the second section (interaction). Normally as I click through random articles if I see images larger than 250px or 300px I resize them. The web needs to work for the lowest common denominator, not the biggest population group. The other problem with large images is that you get skinny columns of text with one or two words in each line and it makes the text difficult to read. 05:20, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
  • To Your above argument is totally rejected. The Web does work for dial-up modems on 800 × 600 monitors. Unfortunately, the world has moved on to broadband modems and the rest of the Web has changed accordingly with increased content. Surfing the Web must be a supremely frustrating experience for you. I see that you are doing your part too make the Web better suited for people with equipment like yours since you just wrote above that you re-size pictures pictures larger than 300 (or even 250 pixels) as you run across them in Wikipedia. Swell. In other words, you not only make the web work for the lowest common denominator (something it already does) you’re busy optimizing this little part of the Web to make it more suitable for equipment like yours. That's certainly not something you can do with any old Web site, is it? This particular article has one single picture on it. I’ve moved it up so it doesn’t collide with the TOC on (rather common) 800 × 600 monitors. Do you think you can live with it now, or do you feel that Wikipedia and the internet needs more optimzing for you and others with dial-up connections? As for your statement “I didn't even know there was a ruler in the image.”: uhmm… right. Greg L (my talk) 05:58, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

To quote Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, I think you should make the article look any way you want it to look and should not pay attention to what I say. Isn't that what he said? There are close to a billion people in the world that have web access and a scant few of them are on broadband. I design things for the school kid in Nairobi who uses a ten year old computer and a 1200 baud modem. The sunspot article looks best when the image is resized to 200px, even with the paragraph of text for the caption, and you can still see the words, "relative size of earth", but I can only read them because I know what they are. One of the biggest problem with "web development" and software development in general is that the developers test and develop things on the latest greatest fastest computers and then the rest of us have to struggle with trying to use it on ancient hardware. The text I see to the left of the photo of the kilogram now is the sum total of the following: "“Kg” redirects here. For other uses, see Kg." And there is a huge whitespace beside the TOC, but it is much smaller than in most articles because the topics are so long.

By the way you can ditch the "to so and so" because it is better to address the issue than the author. 06:07, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

  • Fine, the issues: Wikipedia has versions in many other languages: Nairobi has theirs I'm sure. As for broadband penetration in the U.S. according to Computer World, it's 50% and growing fast, particularly “among minorities and the poor.” This is why the rest of the Web, like CNN’s new site, which has videos, has so much content on its pages now. The Kilogram article with its lousy single picture pales in comparison to the rest of the Web. Greg L (my talk) 06:18, 17 September 2007 (UTC) (Goodnight, I'm taking the dogs for their walk.)
  • My reaction about the image placement is "Opps!" Live and learn, I guess. Sorry about that, 199.125.109.various. Personally, I don't think the images in wikipedia need to be huge, and I do think we should make sure the article is readable for people on dialup or using small monitors, so that means we really must avoid covering up the table of contents. As long as the article is still readable for essentially all readers, though, I do think it makes sense to have this particular image fairly large, as it is the only image in the article, and it does look very nice. In other words; maximize readability for lowest capability setups, maximize beauty for those with "normal" setups. Putting the large image up top seems like a good compromise to me, although if 199.125.109.various gets essentially no text beside the image, it might very well be too large. Enuja (talk) 06:13, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Enuja, the contributor at has two issues going here. I learned something too about small monitors and the TOC. However, I've only checked the resolution down to 800 × 600. There was no crowding of the TOC unless you had a 640 × 480 monitor. And that’s been fixed now; no crowding or scroll bars will appear even with a 640 × 480 monitor. Note that virtually all Web development assumes a minimum screen nowadays of 800 × 600. Many sites—particularly those dealing with computer-related topics—assume 1024 × 768. No one is designing for 640 × 480. On “800 × 600” Web pages, the contents will re-flow and compact all the way down to a window size of 800 × 600; below that, the horizontal scroll bar appears. The Kilogram article goes one-better than other Web sites: no scroll bar appears; it’s just that no text appears to the left of the image. That’s pretty good.

    The second issue is bandwidth. “” has a phone modem. Note that half of the U.S. has broadband. Note too that the rest of the Western World is far ahead of the U.S. in this regard. I don’t accept the “speed” argument from one iota. The Kilogram article has only one single picture; it doesn’t take that long to load. Also, there are numerous GIF animations on Wikipedia. If we are to accept for one second the proposition that photographs should be resized down to 180 pixels to make them load faster for non-broadband visitors, then we must logically conclude that animations have no place on Wikipedia in order to accommodate the “lowest common denominator.” Either that, or there is a double-standard: won’t allow photographs to take more than a second or two to load with a phone modem but articles with animations can’t even be visited since that would take so darn long.

    No, the real issue with is the extremely small 640 × 480 monitor; that’s why he's re-sizing pictures so small: so they look better to him (or her) on that monitor. The near-universal rule of thumb for the Web that 800 × 600 is the minimum screen size before the scroll bar appears is good enough for Wikipedia. The Kilogram article currently does better than that so there is no reason for us to hang our heads on this one. The argument from that there are people in Nairobi using poo-powered computers with 1200-baud modems just isn’t compelling to me; not for the English-language version of Wikipedia. Greg L (my talk) 17:30, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
  • The manual of style says that we should avoid specifying image size (and let a user's preferences, usually 180 pixels) determine the size of the images in the article. Instead of worrying about monitor size, the manual of style mentions users that need large text size for readability. Now, the manual of style does specifically mention reasons to use larger images, including "a lead image that captures the essence of the article," but 199.125.109.various is most definitely bringing up a relevant and important format issue. We should discuss the formatting on its own merits instead of discussing the technical specifications of english language reading web user's computers. As I read this discussion, we are going to leave the image up on top of the article; the only issue left is its size. Personally, I'm happy with the image anywhere from no specification (180) to 359 pixels. Greg L, is there an intermediate size that would work with the image? When I preview it, it all looks fine to me, and I like being able to click on the image and see more, but I also like having a nice big anchor image at the top of the page. Enuja (talk) 18:10, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
  • I see no reason to start jumping through hoops on this. We've been dragged into the issues of comptuter specs because that has been central to that user’s complaint. As a practical matter, there’s no possible way to address “formatting on its own mertis” because its intertwined with small monitors and slow modems in this particular case. That’s why he's running about changing long-standing articles on Wikipedia to suit his taste. You can't make everyone happy in life. We're dealing with someone who makes it his habit of resizing images on Wikipedia whenever he happens upon those he finds too big and that occurs a lot because he shrinks them even if they're 250 pixels. We've moved the picture up to make it stop colliding with the TOC. That's all that's warranted here. It now looks its best for the vast majority of users. The picture sizes used throughout Wikipedia have served the vast majority of its users well for years. Just because someone comes along and tries to make the world conform to his particular needs doesn't mean that you can I have to get dragged into his drama. On with life. Greg L (my talk) 19:44, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
If your normal screen size is 1440x900, what is your preferred thumb size set to, still 180px? I would think that in your case you could set your preferences to 400px or so and take out the size and everyone would be happy. Note that I don't change sizes unless they are over 300px, usually only if they are over 350 or even 400px, and I don't normally reduce them to below 250px. So I don't know where you got the idea that I shrink them even if they are 250px. What I said, was that the sunspot article looks best on my monitor at 200px, not that I had changed it to that. If I would have changed it, it would have been to 300px, like I did on Thermodynamic temperature where someone who obviously doesn't want me to read the TOC, which is now obscured, put it back to the absurd size of 440px. 01:15, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
  • To anonymous user from Manchester NH: “So I don't know where you got the idea that I shrink them even if they are 250px.” Well, I quote your own writings (from above):

…if I see images larger than 250px or 300px I resize them.

and this one:

I would much rather have it 180px

If you are going to debate this issue, your position might be strengthened if you could take a consistent position. What you wrote earlier is simply not consistent with what you just wrote above. The picture, even on 640 × 480-pixel screens no longer crowds the TOC as it has been laid out differently to accommodate you. Yet you seem to be strongly advocating that pictures should still be smaller and have previously cited the lengthy download times associated with them.

Since I am on dialup having to wait for a 359px image to render is like forever.

I totally disagree with your position. If you think one, medium-size picture on Wikipedia is a problem, then you couldn’t possibly have any satisfaction with any of the multitude of Wikipedia pages featuring animations—like
In other words, it seems to me that you protest too much about an issue of an extra second or two of download time, which is truly a trivial issue given that there are large sections of Wikipedia you can’t practically even visit unless you take a coffee break while the page loads. You’ve previously stated that Wikipedia should “work” for the lowest common denominator of computer equipment. Of course, Wikipedia already does work with pretty much anyone’s computer equipment, so it seems entirely logical that what you are really striving for is to get Wikipedia pages to work better on equipment such as yours. I personally find your position to be without foundation because it’s a double-standard: you desire pages with a single picture to load a few second faster but do nothing (at least I hope so) about those pages containing animations with dozens of times greater download requirements. I submit that Wikipedia pages should be attractive and best serve the needs of the largest possible segment of users. Have you considered the implications of your running about shrinking pictures…

Normally as I click through random articles if I see images larger than 250px or 300px I resize them.

…that have served well for years without any adjustment or user complaint during that time? Further, it is virtually impossible to debate someone whose positions and statements shift from one day to the next. Greg L (my talk) 23:06, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
Look, you can obviously do whatever you want, which is why I quoted Gone with the Wind. However, it is helpful to follow guidelines and style manuals. Take a look at some of the featured articles, for example the physics ones at Wikipedia:Featured articles#Physics and astronomy. Since I am on dialup I did not check all of them but 10 of the 10 I did check did not use a lead off image greater than 300px. Hopefully I can get in to the library soon and check more of them. Earth has a great photo, with lots of detail, but even that is only at 240px. I don't think any of them actually used just a thumb, however. By the way I finally did have to reduce one image to just a thumb - it was next to a large table and even making it a thumb covered up part of the table, but not any of the data. Based on the manual of style quoted I see that I should not be afraid to make them all thumbs if they look better that way. 04:25, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
  • To anonymous user from Manchester NH: “[B]ut [all ten of the pictures] I did check did not use a lead off image greater than 300p” OK, you make a good point; given the relatively small trade-off in quality when going smaller, the size of the IPK picture should fall in the normal distrubution of sizes. I created a test page with twenty-one pictures in one-pixel increments from 290 to 310 pixels and looked for the size that did the best job with the graduations in the ruler. To my eye—at least in that range of sizes—307 pixels looked best. I checked the new layout at 640 × 480 pixels and don’t see that the new size has any advantages layout-wise since all text still goes under the picture rather than along side of it at that resolution. Still, it’s smaller (as you are advocating for download speed). Close enough? Peace? Greg L (my talk) 01:43, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

I've forgotten all about it. However, if you were going to make 20 images I would have preferred it if you had made them from 280 to 300 px. 21 images, I mean. I moved the image back where it was below the redirect notice where it belongs. 04:22, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Links: Principle of least astonishment

Vinyanov: Regarding these edits, according to the general principals outlined in WP: What needs to be done on pages that are targets of redirects? and WP: Principle of least astonishment, the reader should be able to best anticipate what will happen when they click on a link. Examine the below examples; the last link in both skips the page forward to the same section in the Kilogram article:

While the weight of matter is entirely dependent upon the strength of gravity, the mass of matter is constant (assuming it is not traveling at a relativistic speed with respect to an observer). Accordingly, for astronauts in microgravity, no effort is required to hold an object off the cabin floor since such objects naturally hover. However, since objects in microgravity still retain their mass, an astronaut must exert one hundred times more effort to accelerate a 100-kilogram object at the same rate as for a 1-kilogram object. See also Mass vs. weight below.

Note that by using the above method, the reader properly knows precisely what will happen if they click on the Mass vs. weight link; they will skip forward to a section of that same article where they can read a passage that expands on that particular subject. Contrast this with the following technique for accomplishing this simple task:

While the weight of matter is entirely dependent upon the strength of gravity, the mass of matter is constant (assuming it is not traveling at a relativistic speed with respect to an observer). Accordingly, for astronauts in microgravity, no effort is required to hold an object off the cabin floor since such objects naturally hover. However, since objects in microgravity still retain their mass, an astronaut must exert one hundred times more effort to accelerate a 100-kilogram object at the same rate as for a 1-kilogram object.

Note that in both examples, the reader could reasonably and correctly anticipate what will happen if they click on the “weight” and “relativistic” links: they will be taken to the relevant Wikipedia article. These two links are properly made and carry no surprises. The third link (“one hundred times”) in the latter method does not provide the reader with sufficient information in to properly anticipate what they will be taken to if they click on it. This latter style of linking has an “Easter egg hunt” quality and almost begs to be clicked on just to find out what a “one hundred times”-link could possibly take the reader to: (elsewhere in the current article(?), at article about “one hundred”(?) who knows?). Sometimes very obscurely aliased links may be suitable for special purposes, like humor. As a general rule, the Principal of Least Astonishment makes articles more enjoyable to read and encourages interaction and exploration (learning) because the reader knows they won’t be wasting their time by clicking on mysterious links of no interest to them, which is not a good way to make links.  :-)

Greg L (my talk) 21:32, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

  • Thanks for a thorough answer. Still, you reverted all my edits and justified your action using just one of them, perhaps most controversial, which was made for consistency with the rest of the article.
  1. Content of the links of the previous version were mainly out of context. For example: "Links to photographs". Photographs of what? Photograps in general? Would it not be easier for search engine crawlers to deduce it from the link content? Or say "Proposed future definitions". Again, it says nothing about the actual content. I hyperlinked "new definition of the kilogram" and "practical realization of the kilogram", which I believe are both more meaningful and would be nicely positioned for interested Google users.

    In the expression “For other kilogram-related images, see Links to photographs, below”, italicizing “Links to photographs” denotes that it is a title of something. Adding the word “below” indicates that the title refers to a section within the Kilogram article. By adding the specificity of “For other kilogram-related images…”, it communicates ‘photographs of what’. Greg L (my talk) 21:10, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
  2. Actual links are based on current article layout. Say a user downloads just one part of the article, or an editor moves one section up. The link captions no longer are correct in directing the user "below".

    Good point. As you can see in this example (old editing change here), I routinely advise other editors of the ramifications of renaming a section since doing so will break referring links from outside articles. It's virtually impossible that the Links to photographs section will move above the picture of the IPK. Though unlikely, the body section could be rearranged with sections moved way up (so a referred section is no longer “below”) or deleted. So I added an editors’ note to the Proposed future definitions section (new change here) to properly alert editors of the links. Thanks. Greg L (my talk) 00:01, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
  3. Links interjected in parentheses enlarge the article and disrupt my reading flow, but that could be just me.
So, I cannot agree, but I accept. Except for the reverted wikitable-caption markup! :) viny.tell // 07:30, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
  • I appreciate your understanding. Regarding another reversion I did on your edits: your deletion of the footnote on the SI table explaining the basis for bolding certain entries (>250,000 instances of the word on a Google search), I first had it that way on another SI table a few years ago (a simple statement of “most common” in the Kelvin article, and I left it at that). Within a week or so, someone deleted the statement with the complaint that there was no substantiation or basis for making such a claim and de-bolded the entries. So I buttressed the assertion with the basis via a footnote and re-bolded the common ones. That technique has worked well for years without complaint. Yes it expands the article a bit, but at least it's in the form of a footnote, which someone may choose to read or not. You can't make everybody happy all the time. However, having extra information at least available to read if one takes issue with a statement seems to be the way to best address the issue and makes the most people happy in the long-term. Greg L (my talk) 21:00, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Line spacing control

Ruakh: The superscripted and subscripted non-breaking spaces serve an important function. Take a look at the space between the ‘General section’ footnote and the ‘Report to the CGPM’ footnote here. The line with the superscripted “108” adds as much leading to its last line as an entire note break following it. Your eye has to scan back to the num^ to see where a note ends and a new one starts. So I add more space with code between notes like these. Anywhere where footnotes or superscripted exponents give the first or last lines in paragraphs extra leading, I separate that paragraph to the next one with a bit more leading with this technique. It makes it much more readable that way. Greg L (my talk) 04:20, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Could you bring this up at Wikipedia talk:Manual of style? —RuakhTALK 18:17, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, only one person replied to my comment there. The person agreed with me, though, so I'm going ahead with the change. :-P (There are two problems, really. One is that the markup is supposed to reflect the meaning of the text. The other is that other articles don't have this weirdness. If people consider the irregular spacing to be a problem, then the solution should be a Wikipedia-wide solution, probably in one of the CSS files.) —RuakhTALK 01:23, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Ruakh: The trouble is, you aren’t fixing anything. Your stated reason in your edit summary: “some silliness I noticed when I highlighted the text” is a surprisingly accurate account of the importance of your issue: zero. The “silliness” you cite is a hidden effect of no consequence whatsoever, and even when it appears, it is only a single space between two words that, when highlighted, curiously jumps up a few pixels higher than that of the adjacent words. I don't add this extra line spacing everywhere, just in select places where the variable leading (line spacing) due to superscripts and footnotes makes the transition between distinct paragraphs hard to discern. This a real readability issue in the article I’m addressing.
You'll have to make a case as to why a curious artifact in the highlighting of text that only appears as it’s being selected (and which doesn't affect the pasted text one iota) merits detracting from the readability of the article. Greg L (my talk) 02:54, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
P.S. This isn't a rebuke of you as a person, just the care (or lack of it) when you make some of your edits on Wikipedia. For instance, your recent edit to the Nibble article is unsupportable. If you do a Google search as you did (“bit byte nybble”) you get 413,000 hits. If you search on “bit byte nibble”, you get 394,000 hits. If you don’t bother to look at your search results and study them a bit, one could come away with an erroneous conclusion; as you did. Simply look at the hits. The search with nybble includes all the Web pages that include the word “nybble” AND all the Web pages that include the words “bit” and “byte” but also happen to include the word nibble”! Here's what you get with a simple search:
“nibble byte” = 591,000 hits
“nybble byte” = 54,900 hits
Clearly, “nibble” is a more common spelling than “nybble”.
Greg L (my talk) 03:28, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Whatever. I still think the superscript silliness is a bad idea, but you clearly feel more strongly than I do. As for "nybble" vs. "nibble", thanks; I did skim the results, obviously, but didn't notice that. Thanks for reverting me, and for explaining. (BTW, a word of advice: your postscript really didn't need the first sentence. If you start a comment by saying "this isn't a rebuke of you as a person", the reader naturally braces for rebuke of himself as a person. And there's no need to comment on how much care I am or am not putting into my edits; you don't know anything about that, you only know about the edits that result. So, comment on the edits, and leave personal comments out of it. In this case your comment wasn't a problem — I have a thick skin when it comes to well-supported criticism, and your analysis of Google's surprising behavior appears to be correct — but it's something to keep in mind for the future.) Cheers, —RuakhTALK 04:04, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
Very well. I much appreciate your flexibility on line spacing. I am also impressed with your intellectual honesty in accepting the correction. Finally, I will try to do better at focusing my criticism on the end result rather than speculate on supposed inadequacies in the process that produced the result. You are correct on this point. Greg L (my talk) 04:35, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

SI table via template

I've reverted the table back to its Wiki table form. That is, after all, what Wiki table syntax is for: creating tables. Whereas templates are nice tool to have (thank you for creating the template) when creating new articles or brand new tables, they can not serve every need for every article. The main disadvantage of templates is that templates can be deleted at a later date and this would delete the table, would it not? Attempts to do precisely this—delete a table-generating template—have been attempted in the recent past after certain users objected to the very existence of SI tables. Further, notwithstanding the truism about how “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the original table looks better than the template-generated one. Greg L (my talk) 22:19, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Further, I think that the table template violates the longstanding rule that "Templates should not masquerade as article content in the main article namespace" (in Wikipedia:Template namespace). —RuakhTALK 22:36, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
And I later noticed the connection that this particular contributor lead the prior effort to delete the SI table-generating template by nominating the SI table template for deletion. In that nomination topic, his argument started out as follows: “This template adds redundant information to articles that can be looked up in the SI prefix article.” See also Talk:Metre (where he announces his nomination) and Talk:Kelvin (where he made telling, passionate arguments as to why SI tables have no value). So he has apparently had a 180° change of heart, which I welcome. However, the template has a goof in it (heading titles are screwed up), it doesn't meet special needs of the individual articles, doesn't look as attractive, and shouldn't be used to replace existing tables. Greg L (my talk) 23:56, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
The table template should simply be fixed to address the concernsl Greg L has with it (at least some of which on cursory examination do appear to be valid), and put back in here. Templates exists for reasons, and keeping article code simple is a major one. There is no reason for this table in this article to be different from what would appear in the template, which can have useful application in other articles. Another way of putting it, instead of protecting the "sanctity" of this magical article from heathen template influences, recognize wiki tools for what they are and help build and maintain them, eh? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:50, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
I modified the table template to address GregL's technical concerns. Yes, I still have my doubts whether this table should be this prominent and list all obscure prefixes up to 10^24, but if this table is there to stay, it had better be consistent among different articles and also not clutter up the wiki source with huge amounts of wikitable and xhtml syntax. Han-Kwang (t) 11:18, 29 September 2007 (UTC)
All the prefixes should be here because all the formerly separate articles on this and other units with most prefixes have been changed to redirect to the article about the base unit. For example, teragram and zeptogram redirect here. That way, if someone gets here by using a link through one of these redirects, we do have the information that explains why they are here. Gene Nygaard 04:33, 6 October 2007 (UTC)


I'm most concerned at the odd use of HTML and emphasis in the article. I see that this has been fixed, and hope that it won't return to its previous state. Tony (talk) 05:43, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

  • No, I won't try it. I read here that “Line spacing can be controlled by CSS if the user wants it to look differently to him.” I took a quick peek at Cascading Style Sheets. Looks like a lot to learn. What I want to do is add a little more space between certain paragraphs when the nearest line of the adjacent paragraph has a footnote or superscript. Here's an example:

In the watt balance, Planck's constant would be fixed, where h = 6.62606896 × 10–34 J s (from the 2006 CODATA value for Planck's constant of 6.62606896(33) × 10–34 J s) and the kilogram would be defined as the mass of a body at rest whose equivalent energy equals the energy of photons whose frequencies sum to 1.356392733 × 1050 Hz.[1]

The virtue of kilogram standards wherein their practical…

It's hard to tell, but the line that begins with “The virtue…” is another pagragraph. Please tell, what are all the kosher methods for adding several more pixels so that next paragraph looks like a new paragraph?
Greg L (my talk) 18:49, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
Doing stuff like that is an outright abuse of XHTML (what many people still call "HTML") elements ("<sup>" is a semantic XHTML element for superscripting visible textual content, not a fine-tuner of whitespace kerning!), and has consequences for accessibilty among other problems. Also, whoever keeps throwing "<p>" all over the place needs to please stop doing that. Your markup is invalid; the <p> element, like all other XHTML elements, must close. Whoever is doing this is used to, and still writing, obsolete HTML 2.0 code from ca. 1995. This will cause forward compatibility problems all over the place - WP is free, open content and can be and is being repurposed in many ways, most of them probably XML-based. XML, along with other SGML implementations, break when elements do not open and close properly. If you want to introduce a paragraph break, just put a blank line between paragraphs, and WP's MediaWiki software will paragraphize it properly in XHTML for you in the background. In a similar vein, there is no reason to sprinkle this document with empty <!-- comments -->. As a general rule, if you use XHTML in an article and someone reverts it with concerns about markup validity, they usually know what they are talking about (otherwise they wouldn't notice or care).  :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:02, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
PS: The line spacing concern here is one that is shared generally but quite a number of editors, myself included. It should be brought up at WP:VPT, and if you notify me that you've done so I will be happy to weigh in with support. WP's general line spacing is just a little too tight, resulting in an ugly look when superscripted content, inline references, or inline cleanup templates are used. It is about time this did get fixed, but it needs to be fixed system-wide, not with random misuses of XHTML in this article or that, or pretty soon wiki code in articles will not be parseable by the average editor any longer. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:06, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
PPS: I managed to confuse someone into thinking that I was asserting that the p element inside the li element was not valid; it is of course valid if it is properly formed XHTML, but is simply redundant (self-correction immediately below), and like the sup element should not be used willy-nilly to tweak line spacing, because that is not its semantic function. Just didn't have room in the edit summary field to go into that. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:18, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
Self-correction: I had not ever noticed that paragraphizing-by-blankline-insertion does not work inside <li> constructs in WP pages; the <li><p>...</p></li> markup actually was needed to get the desired effect; my bad. But note the inclusion of </p></li>. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 22:35, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't even know what you’re talking about or who you’re arguing with. But it seems to me that whatever style of creating new paragraphs is used, it ought to be as “conventional” and “typical” as possible and mostly similar to other articles. Otherwise someone’s going to come along and do a damned ‘drive-by-shooting’ on this article and then it’s going to look like crap. Greg L (my talk) 20:24, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

P.S. I don't have any idea whose markup I fixed (difference shown here) but could see that the markup looked like it should have created a new paragraph but the end result was that there wasn't a new paragraph (at least on my iMac). Maybe it was a temporary thing with Wikipedia’s server; I don’t know, but here’s the original run-on paragraph before the fix. Even showing the historical version displays the problem. Whatever technique is used here should also avoid that problem too. Greg L (my talk) 20:29, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Resolved. The current version of the code both gets the paragraphizing you want (removing that was my accident), and the properly-formed markup I want, at no cost to anyone. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 22:50, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
All of the above aside, I have to question whether it is good style at all in a Wikipedia article to have bulleted list items of such excessive length. WP:LIST strongly suggests otherwise. Lists are to be used when they are helpful to the reader in ways that the normally preferred general prose paragraphs are not, and this does not seem to be the case here. All of that list bulleting markup could be removed, a few twiddles made, and the article will be stronger for it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 22:50, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Delimiting numeric equalities

I hope there isn’t going to be a fight over this; there shouldn’t be. Somewhere in all of this work in settling on syntax and formating and markup and whatever, values like 6.626 068 96 × 10–34 J s got turned into barbaric strings like 6.62606896 × 10–34 J s. Long strings of digits like this are really hard to parse. The SI delimits digits to the right of the decimal point with spaces and so too does the NIST. Where possible according to SI writing style, this is done with narrow spaces, as is disclosed (and demonstrated) in the sixth, left-justified bullet item in SI: SI writing style. Greg L (my talk) 04:01, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

SI table position

Hankwang: It looks like you’ve done a lot of good, hard work on your template. I am truly impressed. Ruakh: That’s the combined hits on both. To all: I've had royal battles on the picture size with someone who has a 640 × 480 screen. You have to consider appearance for a range of monitor resolutions. Most Web work assumes a minimum screen size of 800 × 600 but that won't assuage the “640 × 480 crowd.” I use a 1440-pixel-wide monitor myself and usually have my browser window set to a width of 1070 pixels. As the SI table layout was set a few minutes ago, it didn’t look good on either small or big resolutions. On 640 × 480 monitor, the text to the left was way too crowded. At 1070 pixels, the table ran off the bottom of the section and encroached into the next section. White space isn't bad. It's a well-used technique in page layout to make presentations look friendly and gives the eye a rest. Greg L (my talk) 15:55, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

P.S.: Hankwang, the kilogram is unique among the SI units in that there are no other prefixed versions of it. If you want to prefix mass units, you prefix the gram. This of course, is explained in the text. But it would be nice if you would add a 100 entry showing just the word “gram”. This helps highlight the concept that, unlike all other units, one abandons the kilogram and instead uses the gram. Greg L (my talk) 16:03, 29 September 2007 (UTC)Greg L (my talk) 23:11, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

OK, I'm happy that we seem to have resolved our disagreement now. I'm fine with the current layout, but I'm not sure whether catering for 640x480 should really be a primary concern as of 2007. Clicking some site statistics on this site (statistics icons on the right, then "This site's stats -> Technology" on the left - damn the unbookmarkable AJAX sites) shows that 640x480 has a market share of around 0.3-0.8% (compare with 800x600: 5-15%). And it's not like the page would be unviewable on extreme monitor sizes, it's just a bit less lined up. On the other hand, mobile internet-capable devices have even smaller resolutions: 240x320 or 480x320, but most mobile web browsers will rearrange floating objects anyway. Han-Kwang (t) 16:36, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Notes-section text size

According to Wikipedia:Footnotes, Resizing references: “Some editors prefer references to be in a smaller font size than the text in the body of the article.” There is no “preferred” method of doing this—even for expansive lists of notes.

The above-quoted text discloses a good rational why reduced-size text sometimes makes good sense. Sometimes the “Notes”, or “References” sections are nothing but long lists of citations, such the references section for Psycho (1960 film). In citation-only References sections like this, all you get is a highlighted citation when you click on a footnote. Small text is adequate for this purpose. In other cases, like the Kilogram article, the notes section is truly a Notes section, where points are sometimes expand on (in addition to providing citations). Especially on some computer systems with high-res monitors, reduced-size text is too small for comfort so normal-size text in situations like this is the better option. Greg L (my talk) 19:17, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

C-12 and Avogadro constant

One mole of C-12 is already defined as being precisely 12 grams. The Australian NMI only states the obvious: how the kilogram could be defined as 1000/12 x Avogadro constant. They mention this in order to illustrate the concept of how the Avogadro constant should be used to define the kilogram in terms of silicon. The NMI Web site does not propose to fix the Avogadro constant, quite the opposite; they actually mention the 0.01 ppm uncertainty of the Avogadro constant. It isn’t proper to cite references that don't really support the statement.

I didn't place this “C-12” section here; I've only edited it. It would be nice if you could find a citable reference to someone who proposes to fix Avogadro's constant and define the kilogram in relationship to C-12 (besides the Georgia Tech professor, who really isn't part of the regular “kilogram” group of physicists). But at least this reference speaks directly to the subject of fixing the Avogadro constant at some value and defining the kilogram in terms of C-12. Greg L (my talk) 01:38, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

I only provided such citable reference twice and you reverted it both times, once stating (falsely and demonstratably so) that it was only "tangential". Greg L, you should disabuse yourself of the notion that you own the article, despite all of the editing that you have done to it recently.
If you want, I would suggest combining the "Avogadro-based approach" with the "C-12 approach" since they are the same thing. We both know that either Avogadro's number or the mole are defined in terms of C-12 and the gram (which trivially follows from the kg). There is no difference between the two and they should be the same section. I'm not going to bother to do it myself because my effort will be wasted because of knee-jerk reversion from the article's "owner", and I have better things to do (like physics) than to fight with someone who views themself as the designated provider and protector of the article, Kilogram. 02:04, 2 October 2007 (UTC) (temporary use of this IP)
I think it's a cheap shot to start throwing out allegations of "ownership" and not address the point of the dispute: that of a citation being relevant. I'm saying it isn’t proper to cite “references” that don't support the statement. You stated above that my view on this matter is “demonstratably” [sic] false. Why? Where does the NMI Web site propose to fix the Avogadro constant and define the kilogram in terms of C-12? Recognizing the apparent need to get a proper citation, I dug up my own (A Better Definition for the Kilogram?), which wasn’t hard because I read about it only a week ago on The advantage of this citation is it 1) proposes to fix the Avogadro constant, and 2) define the kilogram in terms of C-12.
Regarding your stated opinion that the Avogadro project (an attempt to build a silicon sphere) should be combined with the Carbon-12 entry, I couldn't disagree more. The Avogadro project proposes to make a silicon artifact; that is, a practical realization. The C-12 concept, as disclosed in the Georgia Tech press release, acknowledges that their's would be a definition only; it couldn't result in a practical artifact. And obviously, the C-12 definition is based on carbon, whereas the Avogadro project would be silicon and much work has already transpired towards this end. Finally, neither of my reversions were “knee-jerk” reactions; just like you, I actually think about what I’m doing. Greg L (my talk) 02:33, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
But if, by “combining the ‘Avogadro-based approach’ with the ‘C-12 approach’ ”, you mean putting the C-12 approach under the rubric of “Atom-counting approaches”, done. Greg L (my talk) 23:52, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Deletion of “Electron mass” section

So far, I've been editing text in the Kilogram article for accuracy without questioning any of the information's fundamental validity. I went in search of a citable reference to support the “Electron mass” section and could find nothing. After reading what I could about electron mass, the watt balance, and how all this ties to the kilogram, I deleted the section titled “Electron mass” after concluding that there likely (it is impossible to prove a negative) has been no reputable proposal to define the kilogram in terms of electron mass. It appears that either a Wikipedia contributor misinterpreted an NIST press release regarding the watt balance, or read an amateur-level science Web page, or someone misinterpreted Towards an electronic kilogram: an improved measurement of the Planck constant and electron mass, Metrologia 42, 431–441 (a paper often cited in articles on the watt balance). One of the byproducts of fixing the Planck constant (as would occur with the watt balance) is that the uncertainty in the electron mass would be reduced by a factor of ten. If the Avogadro constant NA is fixed (as has been proposed in atom-counting approaches) then electron mass would be precisely fixed (Redefinition of the kilogram: a decision whose time has come, Metrologia 42, 71–80) . But again, this would by a byproduct of an entirely different approach to defining the kilogram. I can find no source suggesting that the kilogram should be defined in terms of electron mass. Greg L (my talk) 15:51, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Micro-g LaCoste FG-5 accuracy

The Micro-g LaCoste Web site does not display properly on some computer systems and will be highly misleading. Some readers may explore the FG-5 further by hand-editing the URL after clicking on the provided link in the Links to photographs section. Notwithstanding what their Web site shows, the accuracy is not 2 mGal and is indeed 2 µGal as written in the Kilogram article.

Proof? If you read their Web site further you will find spelled-out accuracies quoting “microgal”. If you view the Micro-g LaCoste Web site using Internet Explorer, you should see the Greek “μ” character. If go to their Web page here, and View>Source, you will see that their accuracy value is coded in HTML as Accuracy: 2<font face="symbol">m</font>Gal. This explains why their Web site doesn't display correctly on some systems: it’s an old Web page that calls on Adobe’s Symbol font for the Greek character mu. According to HTML version 4.0, the proper way to encode Greek symbols is to use Unicode because all proper Unicode fonts include the Greek characters; one is not supposed to assume that Adobe’s Symbol font is installed. Unicode &#x03BC; produces the Greek “mu” symbol (“μ”) and Unicode &#x00B5; produces the special “micro” symbol (“µ”). With Adobe’s “Symbol” font, the μ character is “typed” with a lowercase “m”. If the Symbol font isn’t installed or isn’t supported by your system or browser, you see “mGal”, not the semi-proper “μGal”, and certainly not the Unicode-generated, perfectly proper “µGal”. Note too that while writing this article, a physicist at the NIST who is using and FG-5 confirmed to me that it has 2 µGal accuracy. His browser also shows “2 µGal” when he visits the Micro-g LaCoste Web site.

For Mac OS X users confused about this: Yes, your Symbol font is really installed. But Apple’s OS X and its apps don’t support it; at least not in 10.3. As a matter of fact, it’s more than an issue of “not supporting” the font, it appears Apple purposelessly blocked the font—probably at the system level—in order to enforce rigor and discipline among the developer community. The Mac OS since at least System 7.5.5 (probably before) can generate Greek characters using any font; Mac OS X supports Unicode system-wide. For instance, you type option-m to obtain µ and option-j to obtain ∆. Typing “∆ 50 µV” has been a trivial effort for a long time on a Mac. It appears that Steve Jobs went out of his way to make a point that Greek characters should be properly called using only one method. If you’re running 10.3.x and aren’t fully convinced, try this: open Font Book. Choose Preview>Custom. Choose Times and in the preview pane, replace everything with m. Now select some other fonts; all you get is m in different faces. Then try Symbol. Where’d all that text come from? As you can see, Font Book gives Symbol very special treatment indeed. Try this too: go to Apple’s Mail and try to use Symbol. Then try MS Word. One can see that any app that uses Apple’s system-wide font-choosing resource can’t make use of Symbol and any app that calls fonts its own way (MS Word) can make use of it. It appears that Apple blocked Symbol at the system level so Font Book has to synthesize the Greek characters by pulling them from Times. More troublesome is Safari can’t even access Symbol when asked to. This bugs me but I learned something anyway. I never would have found this out if it weren’t for two things: 1) the Micro-g LaCoste Web site, and 2) my old practice of using Symbol for the proper foot-length and minute-of-angle symbol ( ′ ) and the proper inch-length and second-of-angle symbol ( ″ ) (vs. the barbarian method, used even in some so-called “professionally produced” brochures, of using the straight-quotes " and ' ).

Anyway, I didn’t want to get into a debate on the virtues of operating systems. I provided this paragraph for the benefit of OS X users who can have a real WTF!?! reaction to the observed behavior of the Symbol font on their computers. But my primary objective is to ensure that the Kilogram article continues to show “2 µGal” even though many logical and smart people can see authoritative, clear, and convincing evidence otherwise.

Greg L (my talk) 10:03, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Sure sounds to me like they could have avoided a whole lot of problems, at least for the particular number involved here, by sticking to SI units: 20 nm/s².
Seems pretty strange that people concerned with making a new definition of an SI base unit would not use SI units.
Even stranger that Wikipedia editors have been letting you get away with it in this article, without even providing us with SI conversions. Gene Nygaard 14:41, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Oh for God’s sake. The galileo and µGal are standard units used by the gravimetry community. For instance, see National Geophysical Research Institute’s report Absolute gravity measurements in India and Antarctica (246 kB PDF here ). Go complain to them or the people who make the instruments. I linked both instances of the unit in the article. Anyone can click on them to find out what the units mean (one Gal = one cm/s²). Further, in the first unit in the body text, I gave the reader a sense of the unit’s magnitude of “3.1 µGal” by parenthetically explaning it effect relative to full gravity “(3 parts in 109)”. You know, the hour and the liter aren’t SI units either. Yet I bet you use both of them. Greg L (my talk) 22:13, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
The hour and the liter, however, are officially acceptable for use with the SI in accordance with CPPM decisions. See the BIPM's SI brochure and NIST Special Publication 811. OTOH, gals and other cgs units are not. Gene Nygaard 23:49, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Furthermore, this isn't a gravimetry-specific publication, and even if you could establish the hanging onto arcane, obsolete units in that particular field, it is irrelevant. The interdisciplinary nature of the SI is every bit as important as its international nature. Gene Nygaard 23:53, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
You come across as overly enamored with whether a unit of measure is “accepted” by the CIPM. The Gal is not an “arcane, obsolete unit” (nice try) because you say so Gene. Quite the opposite. It is a unit currently used by physicists and scientists in the field of gravimetry and mass metrology. Further, the Gal is entirely an SI-based unit (cm/s²). Given that this is an article dealing with mass metrology, mentioning it is perfectly appropriate. I’m not a big advocate of the unit. Nevertheless, it’s currently being used in these fields and anyone who wants to have an understanding of mass metrology should be familiar with the unit. It’s “reality.” And I know about NIST Special Publication 811 because that’s where I looked up the hour and liter before I wrote of them. They’re still not part of the SI system. Finally, the Gal is only touched uopon tengentially (and linked) in this article. Greg L (my talk) 00:18, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
The gal is not an "entirely SI based unit". It is a centimeter-gram-second system unit. Yes, centimeters are part of SI. Yes, seconds are part of SI. But no, gals are not part of SI. BIPM SI brochure, 8th ed. 2006, Section 4.2 Other non-SI units not recommended for use:[1]
  • The CIPM can see no case for continuing to use these units in modern scientific and technical work.
Gene Nygaard 15:10, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
I've been concerned about the wholesale change to the article since Greg L has come about, although I will say that some of the changes were helpful. But this article has become too much the reflection of a single person's understanding of the topic. Way too much. However, I am letting Grag_L get away with it, being that I'm not interested in edit warring and would rather leave that to the Marines. 17:23, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Edit wars and the watt balance image

I am concerned about revisions, both on this page and on the main page, between User:Greg L, and User:Swatjester. There appears to be a very strong difference of opinion between Greg L and Swatjester, but does this disagreement does not make either person's actions vandalism. All three users have, in edit summaries, tagged edits by the other user as vandalism. This is not okay.

Personally, I do not think using the image of the watt balance on this page is appropriate under free use restrictions, but I can easily see how this is a matter of interpretation. How much does the image actually contribute? Is the kilogram substantially equal to one possible future way of defining it? My answers are "not much, because it's just a complicated looking contraption and a face seen with a fish-eye lens" and "the two are very different" but having different answers to those questions does not make a user a vandal.

Swatjester, please stop calling Greg L's copy and paste of your comments vandalism. Greg L, and, please do not continue to add to this page posts that User:Swatjester made on User_talk:Swatjester. Enuja (talk) 00:26, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

I will call it what it correctly is. It is incivil, it is a violation of the GFDL's requirement that attribution histories remain intact, it is a violation of WP:MULTI, and it is disruptive. That equates to vandalism. As for the image itself, it does not meet our fair use restrictions. I am not the only one who thinks so. See WP:FUR. In fact, everyone I've discussed this with believes that the image does not qualify as fair-use on this article. To continue to reinsert it is to violate Wikipedia policies, to attempt to intentionally harm the project by potentially allowing copyright infringement, and it is fundamentally against the idea of what Wikipedia stands for. Greg L has been shown to have ownership problems before with this article. It will not stand. He's been warned about this, and if it continues, he'll be blocked for disruption. SWATJester Denny Crane. —Preceding comment was added at 00:40, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it is incivil, it is problematic with the GFDL license, it could be a violation of multiple account policy (although an investigation that Greg L = is necessary before being certain of this), and it disruptive. However, I strongly believe that, with these edits, Greg L and are trying to build a better encyclopedia. By definition that isn't vandalism, no matter the actions. Enuja (talk) 01:31, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, we'll see what checkuser has to say about the IP's and Greg L. SWATJester Denny Crane. 02:26, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
    • ^ Example