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Transatlantic "measuring bridges"

Metrology: The national institutes of the USA and of Germany conclude a "Memorandum of Understanding"

10.05.2000

[jes]What happened that Friday in the world of metrology could approximately be compared with the following fictitious news from the world of sports: "In the Champions League the big clubs of Manchester United and FC Barcelona have agreed close cooperation - joint trainer seminars, an exchange of players and arrangements regarding the tactics will in future be common practice." What in fact happened that Friday: The National Metrology Institutes of the USA and of Germany, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), together with the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM), will move closer together at the highest level of metrology and conclude a "Memorandum of Understanding." While in sports such an arrangement would lead to the appeal of the game getting lost, metrology will become more powerful and the economic bonds between the two states will be tightened.

In the field of science and technology, this arrangement puts into practice what is politically aimed at on the global scale: unification of metrology all over the world to such an extent that economy will markedly profit from it. For the global goods traffic will move unhindered if it is not impeded by technical barriers to trade. Different "metrological philosophies" may, however, constitute such barriers (and in practice have been such barriers until today), for example if the testing of a measuring instrument must be repeated when a frontier is crossed because only the national metrological standards are accepted. The Memorandum now signed therefore expressly refers to the removal of such technical barriers to trade; metrological questions still in dispute are to be solved by comparisons accepted by both sides.

Above all the Memorandum also is a confidence-building measure of metrological competence on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The exchange of scientists, joint seminars and workshops as well as scientific and technical cooperation in all metrological questions are therefore a central part of a memorandum which wants to make a valuable contribution to the globalization and harmonization of metrology.