Jun 13, 2014

≤ kg

A plum-sized lump of metal takes us from the French Revolution to an underground bunker in Maryland as we try to weigh the way we weigh the world around us.

In this short, we meet a very special cylinder. It's the gold standard (or, in this case, the platinum-iridium standard) for measuring mass. For decades it's been coddled and cared for and treated like a tiny king. But, as we learn from writer Andrew Marantz, things change—even things that were specifically designed to stay the same.

Special thanks to Ken Alder, Ari Adland, Eric Perlmutter, Terry Quinn and Richard Davis.

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Speaker 1:

Listener supported, WNYC studios.

Jad Abumrad:

Wait, wait, you're ...

Lynn Levy:

Okay?

Robert Krulwich:

All right.

Lynn Levy:

Okay?

Robert Krulwich:

All right.

Jad Abumrad:

You're ...

Jad Abumrad:

Listening ...

Speaker 2:

To Radiolab.

Robert Krulwich:

Radiolab.

Speaker 3:

Shorts.

Speaker 2:

From ...

Jad Abumrad:

WNYC.

Speaker 4:

C.

Speaker 2:

And NPR.

Jad Abumrad:

Hey, I'm Jad Abumrad.

Robert Krulwich:

I'm Robert Krulwich.

Jad Abumrad:

This is Radiolab, the podcast.

Robert Krulwich:

And this ...

Andrew Marantz:

I actually brought a list.

Robert Krulwich:

Okay, why don't you share with me your list?

Andrew Marantz:

Where is this thing?

Robert Krulwich:

This is Andrew Marantz. He's a writer and editor at the New Yorker magazine.

Andrew Marantz:

It might've gotten lost.

Robert Krulwich:

Who occasionally pops onto our show. Maybe you were mugged?

Andrew Marantz:

Ah, here it is. [crosstalk 00:00:52].

Robert Krulwich:

And he recently got obsessed with a ... it's a list of measurements.

Andrew Marantz:

Base units, they're called. They're SI base units, the Systeme International. You know [crosstalk 00:01:03].

Robert Krulwich:

So, let me get this right. Have you ever wondered how long an inch is? I mean, exactly how long?

Jad Abumrad:

I know. I just look at a ruler.

Robert Krulwich:

Well, but how do you know that your ruler and my ruler have the same amount of inch space? Or that someone in China, that their inch is our inch is your inch is my inch?

Jad Abumrad:

I hadn't really thought about it, but I'd just assume that there's a master inch somewhere?

Robert Krulwich:

[French 00:01:24]. I say it in French for a reason, in which we'll feel it in a moment. That is what was on this list that Andrew was looking at. It's a list of standard measures for everything we have around. How big something is, how far something is, how hot something is. It's all on this list.

Andrew Marantz:

Okay. So, when you go down the list of the Systeme International d'Unites-

Robert Krulwich:

Here's what you get.

Andrew Marantz:

A meter is a fraction of a second of the distance traveled by light in a vacuum.

Melissa Hughes:

A fraction of a second of the distance traveled by light in a vacuum.

Robert Krulwich:

Okay.

Jad Abumrad:

What?

Andrew Marantz:

A second is how much radiation corresponds to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom.

Melissa Hughes:

How much radiation corresponds to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom.

Jad Abumrad:

That's the definition of a second?

Robert Krulwich:

How many times does that particular atom jiggle?

Andrew Marantz:

Yeah.

Robert Krulwich:

Wow.

Andrew Marantz:

An ampere, which measures electric current-

Robert Krulwich:

You know, an amp.

Andrew Marantz:

... Is a constant current, which, if maintained in two straight parallel conductors of infinite length would produce between these conductors a force equal to two times 10 to the negative seventh newtons per meter of length.

Melissa Hughes:

A constant current, which, if maintained in two straight parallel conductors of infinite length would produce between these conductors a force equal to two times 10 to the negative seventh newtons per meter of length.

Jad Abumrad:

I have no idea what that means.

Robert Krulwich:

See, that's the thing. If you look at the actual definition to any of these things, amp, meter, second, whatever, you go ...

Speaker 5:

Ahh.

Robert Krulwich:

But there is one standard on the list that is unique for its simplicity.

Andrew Marantz:

The definition of the standard unit of measurement that is a kilogram is-

Robert Krulwich:

No math, no numbers.

Andrew Marantz:

It is a thing.

Robert Krulwich:

A particular thing?

Andrew Marantz:

A plum-sized thing.

Robert Krulwich:

It is the only thing we use to measure things. It's the last one standing. The only physical standard left.

Jad Abumrad:

Why is it the last? And why were there ... Is it ... What? Wait, what?

Robert Krulwich:

Let me just take you back to the beginning of the story.

Latif Nasser:

I must admit that I expected this story to be a lot more boring than I found. It's like an epic story. It's really [crosstalk 00:03:18].

Robert Krulwich:

That is Latif Nasser, science historian, regular on our show, and he says, if you go all the way back to the very first farmers, back in Mesopotamia.

Latif Nasser:

All of the earliest measurements were super intuitive. [crosstalk 00:00:03:26].

Robert Krulwich:

And he says a lot of them came from the body. As in, "That bunny is coming close to the net." "How close, dad?"

Latif Nasser:

Two hands, but it's not just ... because we think of hands and feet, but there are so many other kinds of measurements. You would say, something is as far as my voice can carry. Or that something is as far as I can see sitting on the top of a camel. Or something is as far as I can throw a stone.

Robert Krulwich:

So, that would mean, say, "Okay, I'm going to build a farm here and I'm going to do it three thrower rocks across."

Latif Nasser:

Yeah, the way I read about it was like travelers. If you're a Saharan traveler, you need to know where the next watering hole is, that's kind of a life and death measurement. They would say, "It's three thrower rocks away," or, "It's 10 thrower rocks away."

Robert Krulwich:

But there might be some built-in uncertainty there, because if you ask Achilles, it could be two thrower rocks away, but if you asked me, it would be 78.

Latif Nasser:

You have nailed exactly the problem with the thrower rock system.

Robert Krulwich:

And these problems kind of came to a head in the 1700s.

Latif Nasser:

It's the eve of the French revolution.

Robert Krulwich:

In a little town called Paris.

Latif Nasser:

It's a pretty cosmopolitan place, which means that people are coming from different places and they all have their own measures. Approximately 250,000 different units of measurement in regular use.

Robert Krulwich:

250,000.

Latif Nasser:

Every commodity has its own measure, so you have grain, wine, oil, salt, hay, coal, wood, fabric, everything. And it's extraordinarily confusing.

Robert Krulwich:

Not to mention, it's extraordinarily bad for trade. So if I came to you and I say, "Monsieur, I have a bit of cloth." You would say, "How much cloth you got?" And I'd say, "I have two yards." And you'd say, "What's a yard?" I said, "This much." And the other guy will say, "No, no, it's this much." Then was, "No, no. It's this much," and I'd be like, "No, no! It's this much." You can see the ...

Latif Nasser:

Frustrating.

Robert Krulwich:

It was frustrating. And making matters worse ...

Latif Nasser:

In the 1780s, there was a famine. So, there was a shortage of grain and people were hungry and people were angry, which I am going to call that they were hangry.

Robert Krulwich:

They were hangry.

Latif Nasser:

They were very hangry. So, the bakers at the time, they knew that if they raised the price of bread, an angry mob would basically come and kill them.

Robert Krulwich:

But they also knew that with no absolute standard, there was no way to be sure that what you were getting is what you were getting.

Latif Nasser:

And so what they started doing was they started just lightening their bread loaves by just a little. So, as the famine got worse, people would be waiting in longer and longer lines to pay the same amount of money for smaller and smaller loaves. So they were getting hangrier and hangrier. And so, one of the things that people are like crying out for is that they want standardized weights and measures. If I go to the bakery and I buy a loaf of bread, I want a whole loaf of bread. Don't short me on this. This is serious.

Robert Krulwich:

Well, you know what happens next?

Latif Nasser:

The Bastille is stormed. And the King is under house arrest. And then under the guillotine.

Robert Krulwich:

And as soon as the revolutionary government takes over, they say, "All right ..."

Latif Nasser:

"Okay, this is one of our first priorities. We are going to make a new standard."

Robert Krulwich:

But not based on something arbitrary like a King. This is the Enlightenment.

Latif Nasser:

Why don't we draw on some kind of totally different authority? The authority of nature.

Robert Krulwich:

Of nature?

Latif Nasser:

Of nature.

Robert Krulwich:

So long story short, they took the circumference of the earth. They took a quarter of that circumference, divided that by 10 million and they got the meter. The meter they then divided by 10, cubed it, fill the cube with water, took the mass of the water, minted a cylinder of metal with that mass, and voila. They created the world's first kilogram.

Latif Nasser:

The idea of this was, "If we make this thing that is so beautiful and perfect and everybody can see it that way, then not only will France use it, but the whole world will use it. Then goods and ideas can be exchanged everywhere by all people and it will be beautiful."

Robert Krulwich:

[French 00:07:41]

Latif Nasser:

Exactly. They wanted something that would be eternal and unchanging for everybody for all time.

Robert Krulwich:

So now I guess you want to see it, no?

Jad Abumrad:

Yeah.

Robert Krulwich:

Okay.

Patrick Abbott:

Okay. So it's in here. [crosstalk 00:07:58].

Robert Krulwich:

We ended up visiting the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland.

Patrick Abbott:

And this is where we'll be going in, but we're going to go in through [crosstalk 00:08:03].

Robert Krulwich:

This guy-

Patrick Abbott:

Patrick Abbott, physicist. [crosstalk 00:08:07].

Robert Krulwich:

... Was our guide. They took us three stories down into the bedrocks of the state of Maryland because they want things down here to be totally still. We've just gone through one double door and here comes another double door. Then we stepped into this vault of a room and there it was. What we're looking at, then, is a glass jar with a little handle on top. And then inside that is another glass jar with a little handle on top. And inside that is ...

Patrick Abbott:

Is the thing.

Robert Krulwich:

The thing. It's kind of gorgeous, really. The shiniest little cylinder you've ever seen. Very small and it looks very clean. I mean, doesn't it to you?

Andrew Marantz:

It's almost hard to tell where the russian doll glass jar stops, because it's so reflective.

Lynn Levy:

This might be a crazy question, but can we hold a kilogram?

Jad Abumrad:

That's our producer Lynn levy.

Patrick Abbott:

No.

Lynn Levy:

I'm just curious to know what it feels like. We've been talking about it so much.

Robert Krulwich:

They are very careful with the kilogram and this isn't even really the real one. The original of the original of the original of the original-

Andrew Marantz:

Le Grand K, as they call it.

Robert Krulwich:

Lives in a basement in France. You can't get anywhere near that one.

Jad Abumrad:

I could.

Robert Krulwich:

No, you couldn't.

Jad Abumrad:

I could get all Tom Cruise on that.

Robert Krulwich:

You'd die trying. Here's how it works.

Patrick Abbott:

The international prototype is [crosstalk 00:09:31].

Robert Krulwich:

The big kahuna. That's the one you use to calibrate six identical platinum cylinders.

Patrick Abbott:

What they call witnesses or "temoin" in French. [Crosstalk 00:09:38].

Robert Krulwich:

Those witnesses are then used to calibrate another set of cylinders, which are then used to calibrate the US standards, which is what we saw, and that one is used to calibrate all kinds of things. The weight of your lemons, the scale in your bathroom.

Speaker 6:

Green team, you lost 34 pounds.

Robert Krulwich:

Every time somebody loses a pound on that TV show, Biggest Loser ...

Speaker 6:

5.87%.

Patrick Abbott:

You can actually trace that like a bloodline, if you will, or an unbroken chain back to the international prototype kilogram.

Robert Krulwich:

To a single object in a basement in France, the Holy of Holies that is the kilogram.

Jad Abumrad:

Wait, you're telling me that when something is weighed in the world, often it goes all the way back to this one hunk of metal?

Robert Krulwich:

That's what I'm saying. Which was why the next part of the story is so disconcerting.

Andrew Marantz:

What happened in 1989 [crosstalk 00:10:25].

Robert Krulwich:

Is that according to Andrew, the folks who take care of the official kilogram.

Andrew Marantz:

The big K, [crosstalk 00:10:28].

Robert Krulwich:

They took it out of its jars.

Andrew Marantz:

They put it in a steam bath.

Patrick Abbott:

Hit it with the steam that rinses everything.

Andrew Marantz:

Wait for it to dry. Then-

Robert Krulwich:

They commence a ceremonial weighing.

Andrew Marantz:

Right.

Robert Krulwich:

But how do you weigh the thing that is the standard of weight?

Andrew Marantz:

Well, you weigh it against the copies.

Robert Krulwich:

Like the US copy, for example. So they get one of those and they put it on one side of the scale and then they put the Grand K on the other.

Andrew Marantz:

And the IPK, the Le Grand K, the one, is light.

Jad Abumrad:

What?

Robert Krulwich:

It's light.

Andrew Marantz:

It doesn't ... it-

Robert Krulwich:

How much lighter is it than its sisters?

Andrew Marantz:

Roughly the mass of a grain of sugar.

Robert Krulwich:

Oh.

Andrew Marantz:

Yeah. So-

Robert Krulwich:

Is that gigantic?

Andrew Marantz:

It's measurable.

Jad Abumrad:

Wait, how did they know that it was light and not that the other ones were heavier?

Andrew Marantz:

Right. Well, they didn't. So they used the second sister copy.

Robert Krulwich:

Still light.

Andrew Marantz:

And the third sister copy.

Robert Krulwich:

Still light.

Andrew Marantz:

And the fourth and fifth and sixth.

Robert Krulwich:

In comes the man from Germany.

Andrew Marantz:

Light.

Robert Krulwich:

In comes the man from Canada.

Andrew Marantz:

Light.

Robert Krulwich:

In comes the man from Spain.

Andrew Marantz:

Light.

Robert Krulwich:

Which led them to the troubling possibility that the international standard for weight was losing weight.

Patrick Abbott:

Well, we think that. We think the big guy's the problem.

Andrew Marantz:

As far as how it lost that weight, really no one knows.

Robert Krulwich:

One possibility is it got cleaned too much and maybe some of it got scraped away.

Andrew Marantz:

Although, it's disputed whether cleaning it more would make it lose weight or gain weight. The other theory is outgassing.

Robert Krulwich:

Like maybe a little hydrogen is seeping out of the metal.

Andrew Marantz:

And then there was one thing I read that said, "Foul play can not be ruled out."

Robert Krulwich:

Well see, I was thinking maybe the Taliban. What's clear is we may have a slightly trippy situation here. We got a hunk of metal losing weight. And yet, because it is the standard ...

Andrew Marantz:

It's still weighs exactly a kilogram, right? If the definition of a kilogram is the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram, whatever happens when you put that thing on the scale, that's a kilogram.

Robert Krulwich:

You can't do that.

Andrew Marantz:

And then everything else in the world is wrong.

Robert Krulwich:

No, you can't, that's ridiculous.

Andrew Marantz:

It's like that doesn't sit right? That's like something that like the North Korean government would do. Just be like, "No more cash." Like that ... We can't just go around capriciously doing stuff like that.

Jad Abumrad:

Hey, this is Jad. Radiolab is supported by TransferWise. The smart new way to send and receive money internationally. TransferWise gives you the real exchange rate every time you send money abroad. You can even get an account that holds up to 47 currencies at once and convert between them anytime. Join over 8 million customers in more than 80 countries who are already saving. Try them out for free at transferwise.com/podcast or download the app.

Jad Abumrad:

Hey, this is Jad. Radiolab is supported by Indeed. Indeed knows that for any business, your next step is the most important one. Like hiring someone who can make a real impact. Indeed helps you find high impact hires faster without any longterm contracts. And you pay only for what you need, thanks to their super flexible payment options. So why not take that next step with Indeed. Get started with a free $75 credit for your first job post and get in front of more quality candidates. Go to indeed.com/radiolab, that's indeed.com/radiolab. Terms and conditions apply, offer valid through September 30.

Jad Abumrad:

All right, so if the standard of weight is, as you're saying, losing weight, so how do you fix that?

Robert Krulwich:

Well.

Andrew Marantz:

I'm getting zero cell phone reception down here. That means we're really deep.

Robert Krulwich:

When we were down in that underground room in Maryland, we met a guy who has some thoughts about this.

John Pratt:

Oh, here he is. Okay.

Robert Krulwich:

His name's John Pratt.

John Pratt:

I'm the leader of the Fundamental Electrical Measurements Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Lynn Levy:

Hi John.

John Pratt:

[crosstalk 00:14:10].

Robert Krulwich:

John walked us through even more high security doors. And then we walked into this, Oh my God, amazing room.

Lynn Levy:

It's big.

Robert Krulwich:

It is big, about three stories tall. You know, and it's made of ... it's like a silver room. It has a silver gray floor. It has silver shiny walls. And your hair is on the silvery side.

John Pratt:

Very much so.

Robert Krulwich:

You probably wouldn't be allowed in here if you were a redhead.

John Pratt:

No, no, no.

Robert Krulwich:

I don't even know how to describe it. It looks like a wheel turned on its side with-

Andrew Marantz:

The thing itself looked sort of just like a massive round metal cauldron or like a big metal pot. But then there are all these weird little gizmos and parts, and then all these coiled up wires and ...

Robert Krulwich:

It's just a stunning machine.

Andrew Marantz:

But it's all just for the benefit of the one ...

John Pratt:

The one measurement.

Andrew Marantz:

The one kilogram.

John Pratt:

Yep.

Robert Krulwich:

Because inside that giant cauldron, there is an extremely, extremely sensitive-

John Pratt:

Balance. An equal arm balance.

Robert Krulwich:

Which is basically like a seesaw.

John Pratt:

Or a teeter totter. And usually you would set that up so that you would literally put kid on one side of the Teeter totter, kid on the other side of the teeter totter, [crosstalk 00:15:20].

Robert Krulwich:

Now, you've been in a playground, so you know how this goes, but what they've done here is on one side of the teeter totter, they've got the kilogram, like the Grand K, that's kid number one. On the other side, instead of another kilogram or kid two

John Pratt:

We'll have a highly variable magnet.

Robert Krulwich:

Now here's the thing. The magnet won't be touching that side of the scale. It'll be exerting a force, an invisible force on that side.

John Pratt:

It'll produce a force and we could use that to hold the balance still.

Robert Krulwich:

And the force it takes to hold up the balance, that of course is the same as the weight of the grande K sitting on the other side. And if you can convert that force into a number that everybody agrees to, voila, you have just redefined the kilogram. You have wrenched it from the world of things and it's become attached to the fundamental forces of the universe.

John Pratt:

Yep. You've grasped the gist of it. You want to see that happen?

Lynn Levy:

Yeah.

John Pratt:

Right now? I can show you this with our Lego version of the watt balance.

Robert Krulwich:

Okay.

John Pratt:

If I can fire it up.

Jad Abumrad:

Lego? Lego one?

Robert Krulwich:

Well, see the big one was being tested or something. So they took us over to look at the little one.

John Pratt:

Okay. So we have-

Robert Krulwich:

Have a little scale and everything.

John Pratt:

You can see that I just disturbed the balance and it's jiggling around a little.

Robert Krulwich:

It's free floating.

John Pratt:

It's free floating.

Robert Krulwich:

Okay, so you're now going with your tweezers and you're plucking a itty bitty ...

John Pratt:

Yep, two gram mass.

Robert Krulwich:

He puts this tiny little thimble thing on the balance and now it's going to, he says, levitate.

John Pratt:

Now, it's easy. It prompts me mass on.

Robert Krulwich:

Mass on.

John Pratt:

You know, I'm going to put the mass on.

Robert Krulwich:

He pushes a button.

John Pratt:

All right. And ...

Andrew Marantz:

Wait, but when do we see the levitation?

John Pratt:

That was it.

Robert Krulwich:

I missed it. Do it again.

Andrew Marantz:

It was floating?

Robert Krulwich:

It was floating?

John Pratt:

It is floating, sitting on the balance and it's-

Robert Krulwich:

That's not floating.

John Pratt:

This is floating.

Robert Krulwich:

No it-

John Pratt:

Does it fall to earth?

Robert Krulwich:

That's a different idea of levitation.

John Pratt:

Of levitation. [crosstalk 00:17:18].

Robert Krulwich:

No, the truth is that once I finally figured out what this guy was doing, it was actually sort of cool. He had taken a little metal weight, he put it on one side of the scale. Then on the other side of the scale, it was just empty. But yet the thing didn't tip over because the empty side actually had a magnetic force equivalent to the metal, holding it just perfectly still.

Jad Abumrad:

So if they're able to do that, does that mean that the Grand K's reign is done?

Robert Krulwich:

Not yet, no. Because first of all, you have to get straight with a lot of math.

John Pratt:

M C squared equals H nu, work backwards. [crosstalk 00:00:17:50].

Robert Krulwich:

You got to divide by E and then by M.

John Pratt:

Measure the B field, woo, let's go.

Robert Krulwich:

And then you get your Amperes and your Watts and your Planck's constant.

John Pratt:

Classic little Bohr model of atoms and stuff. Anyway, [crosstalk 00:00:17:58].

Robert Krulwich:

It is actually way more complicated, this whole thing, than I frankly will ever understand. But here's where we are at. You got all these different teams around the world. You've got John's team in Maryland with his seesaw. You got another lab, actually, a couple of them that have their seesaws. You got a third lab that's literally counting the atoms. They're all doing experiments, comparing numbers, trying to get the numbers to agree so that by whatever route everybody agrees on exactly what a kilogram is. Right now, they're close. They're in agreement out to about six decimal places. And that's not good enough. They want the numbers to be out to eight decimal places. But if they can do that then, and only then, will the Grand K be no more.

John Pratt:

Yeah.

Robert Krulwich:

Because instead of defining the kilogram, as whatever is equal to the Grand K, now you have a new definition.

John Pratt:

The new definition of the kilogram. The kilogram is the SI unit of mass. Its magnitude is set by fixing the numerical value of the Planck constant to be equal to exactly 6.626069 ...

Melissa Hughes:

the SI unit of mass. Its magnitude is set by fixing the numerical value of the Planck constant to be equal to exactly 6.626069 X X.

John Pratt:

... And we have X's because we haven't all agreed with the final ...

Andrew Marantz:

Those are the missing decimals.

John Pratt:

Those are the little missing decimal places, times 10 to minus 34, when it's expressed in the unit for actions, Joule seconds, which is meter squared kilogram per second.

Melissa Hughes:

Times 10 to minus 34, when it's expressed in the unit for actions, Joule seconds, which is meter squared kilogram per second.

Andrew Marantz:

That'll be such a simpler definition.

John Pratt:

Oh yeah. No, you've ... [crosstalk 00:19:24]

Jad Abumrad:

And what will happen to the Grand K when the new definition goes into effect.

Robert Krulwich:

So this is the sad part.

Speaker 7:

[foreign language 00:19:31].

Robert Krulwich:

Looks like a church.

Speaker 7:

You will see at the end, the church where the [inaudible 00:19:38].

Robert Krulwich:

The Grand K may eventually end up in a place like this. That's a big [inaudible 00:19:44]. Where so many standards have gone to die. This is the Musee des Arts et Metiers.

Speaker 7:

[foreign language 00:19:49].

Robert Krulwich:

In Paris.

Speaker 7:

So this is the beginning [crosstalk 00:19:52].

Robert Krulwich:

[Shaurin Fasor 00:19:52] was our tour guide.

Andrew Marantz:

Yeah. What is this?

Speaker 7:

A litre.

Robert Krulwich:

He showed us the original liter.

Speaker 7:

[foreign language 00:19:58].

Robert Krulwich:

Some early thermometers.

Speaker 7:

[foreign language 00:00:20:01].

Lynn Levy:

There's one funny object here.

Robert Krulwich:

[inaudible 00:20:06] he showed us the original, I think it was the Parisian meter. In Paris, this was the infallible, the absolute standard.

Speaker 7:

From 1801, I think.

Robert Krulwich:

It's in a wooden box with a velvet packing and it's got silk ribbons at either end. And it's just a very beautiful looking silver rod. I [inaudible 00:20:29].

Jad Abumrad:

To imagine the thing, the grand thing, being in this place, it's sort of like seeing the Pope in shorts or something. Makes me just a little uncomfortable.

Robert Krulwich:

Special, thanks to-

Melissa Hughes:

[Ari Adland 00:20:53] ...

Robert Krulwich:

And ...

Melissa Hughes:

Eric [Perometer 00:20:55].

Robert Krulwich:

And also to ...

Melissa Hughes:

Terry Quinn.

Robert Krulwich:

And we don't want to forget ...

Melissa Hughes:

Richard Davis.

Robert Krulwich:

And ...

Melissa Hughes:

Penn Alder, Bob Waters, Michael Ball, Michael Newman.

Robert Krulwich:

And finally ...

Jad Abumrad:

Thank you to our math angel, soprano ...

Melissa Hughes:

Melissa Hughes. Very weird to sing my own name.

Jad Abumrad:

Also big props to reporter, Andrew Marantz, Latif Nasser and our producer, Lynn Levy. And also you should go to radiolab.org, not only to support the show by clicking the support button, but also to check out a collaboration video that we did with Henry Reich from minute physics. You can see it at radiolab.org or also youtube.com/minutephysics.

Robert Krulwich:

Yet another meditation on what things or unthings are all about.

Jad Abumrad:

I'm Jad Abumrad.

Robert Krulwich:

I'm Robert Krulwich.

Jad Abumrad:

Thanks for listening.

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