Galileo, Krypton, and How the Metric Standard Came to Be

John Wilkins was held as an English divine, and he had become inspired to create something based off of the traditional invention of Galileo’s standards while adding an additional unit that was separate from the rest. In a newspaper that was released back in 1668, Wilkins went public about possibly creating a pendulum that swung back and forth in intervals that lasted just one second each. He had proposed that the length of the pendulum arm would be considered the new unit.

Key Takeaways:

  • In 1582 Galileo made an observation that a pendulum being hung had different speed of moving back and forth based on the length of the pendulum.
  • John Wilkins, based on the observation of Galileo, proposed creating an entirely new unit for length that was different from the standard rod.
  • John Wilkins proposal was on the length of a pendulum that could be made to have just a beat of exactly one second.

“By way of Galileo’s simple observation so length and time were seen to be linked—a linkage that made it possible that a length could be derived not simply from the dimensions of limbs and knuckles and strides, but by the hitherto quite unanticipated observation of the passage of time.”

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