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A kilogram is the SI unit of mass and one of the 7 base units. It is the only SI unit with a prefix. The prefix "Kilo" is used for both the name and symbol of kilogram and is equal to 1000 or 103 grams. Originally the gram was going to be the base unit, but due to historical reasons regarding an artifact used to define the kilogram, the kilogram was chosen as the SI base unit for mass. As of 2018, the kilogram (kg) is now defined by taking the fixed numerical value of Planck's constant h to be 6.62607015 × 10−34 kg m2 s−1. This decision was made in order to ensure the long-term stability of the unit of mass.[1] [2]

For a fascinating video on the origin of the kilogram and the impact of the new definition of a kilogram see Veritasium's video below.


Video: The kg is dead, long live the kg

Further Reading


  1. Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, "Mise en pratique for the definition of the kilogram (2020)," [Online], Available:
  2. Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, "Appendix 4. Historical notes on the development of the International System of Units and its base units," [Online], Available:

Authors and Editors

Anna Pletnyova, Luisa Vargas Suarez, Dayna Wiebe, Jason Donev
Last updated: October 18, 2021
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