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ROMA 1 - 1394/04
December 2004

Why does the meter beat the second?

Paolo Agnoli$^1$ and Giulio D'Agostini$^2$

$^1$ ELECOM s.c.r.l, R&D Department, Rome, Italy
$^2$ Università "La Sapienza" and INFN, Rome, Italy


The French Academy units of time and length -- the second and the meter -- are traditionally considered independent from each other. However, it is a matter of fact that a meter simple pendulum beats virtually the second in each oscillation, a `surprising' coincidence that has no physical reason. We shortly review the steps that led to the choice of the meter as the ten millionth part of the quadrant of the meridian, and rise the suspicion that, indeed, the length of the seconds pendulum was in fact the starting point in establishing the actual length of the meter.

Reference to this paper: physics/0412078

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Giulio D'Agostini 2004-12-14