Metrology 101: Facts, Figures & Optical Instruments

Most people probably mistakenly believe that the science of metrology has something to do with the weather. While metrology might look similar to the word meteorology, metrology has nothing to do with predicting high and low temperatures or tracking storms. Metrology is a branch of science devoted to measurement, and it might surprise you to learn that people study measurement for a living.

Of course, it still might seem vague to understand how a person makes a living off of measurement, but it’s actually quite common. For instance, a metrologist might be tasked with calibration services. If one has a factory or business that includes various pieces of equipment or machinery, these devices must be calibrated from time to time. They are measured against a standard measurement to make sure that both measurements match up. As an example, think about all the people in the world that need contact lenses in order to see. The equipment that produces these optical devices must be perfectly precise, and calibration is the process that makes it so.

An optical instrument, perhaps an optical micrometer or some other instrument will be used as a standard measurement. If the contact lens does not match the measurements of the standard measure, adjustments must be made to bring it into proper alignment. The optical instrument that acts as a standard must be precise, as well, and this is where the metrologist comes into play.

It is important that we have measurements set as specific standards around the world, and that is what a metrologist will do, create these standards. Imagine the difficulty people would have the measurement standards for a unit such as an inch varied from country to country. For instance, maybe you purchase a 12-inch curtain rod produced in Sweden and you live in the United States. If the measurement for an inch varies in the U.S. and in Sweden, this curtain rod probably won’t fit in your window. That’s just a minor example to give you a picture of how difficult commerce would be without standards of measurement.

Some metrologists work for national or international groups that set these standards. One of the biggest organizations includes the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, which is headquartered in France. In the United States, many metrologists work for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. These organizations mainly focus on the commerce application of measurement. Of course, most metrologists work for companies that offer services for calibration and spend their days traveling from company to company with a host of optical instruments.

If you are interested in becoming a metrologist, you will need a strong background in physics and mathematics. There are several two-year colleges and universities that offer coursework supportive of those seeking a career in metrology, such as California State University at Dominguez Hills and Purdue University. During your studies you will learn all about metrology and perhaps how to use many optical instruments, such as optical micrometers and other helpful pieces of calibration equipment.

Carey Bourdier enjoys writing reviews on precision scientific instruments. For more information about optical instruments like an optical clinometer, or to find more information about optical instruments, check out the Warren Knight website today.

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