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# The metric system is an internationally recognised decimalised system of measurement.

It is in
widespread use, and where it is adopted, it is the only or most common system of weights and
measures (see metrication). It is now known as the International System of Units (SI). It is used
to measure everyday things such as the mass of a sack of flour, the height of a person, the speed
of a car, and the volume of fuel in its tank. It is also used in science, industry and trade.
In its modern form, it consists of a set of base units including metre for length, kilogram for
mass, second for time and ampere for electrical current, and a few others, which together with
their derived units, can measure any physical quantity. Metric system may also refer to other
systems of related base and derived units defined before the middle of the 20th century, some of
which are still in limited use today.
The metric system was designed to have properties that make it easy to use and widely
applicable, including units based on the natural world, decimal ratios, prefixes for multiples and
sub-multiples, and a structure of base and derived units. It is also a coherent system, which
means that its units do not introduce conversion factors not already present in equations relating
quantities. It has a property called rationalisation that eliminates certain constants of
proportionality in equations of physics.
The units of the metric system, originally taken from observable features of nature, are now
defined by phenomena such as the microwave frequency of a caesium atomic clock which
accurately measures seconds. One unit, the kilogram, remains defined in terms of a man-made
artefact, but scientists recently voted to change the definition to one based on Planck's
constant via a Kibble balance. The new definition is expected to be formally propagated on 20
May 2019.
While there are numerous named derived units of the metric system, such as watt and lumen,
other common quantities such as velocity and acceleration do not have their own unit, but are
defined in terms of existing base and derived units such as metres per second for velocity.
Though other currently or formerly widespread systems of weights and measures continue to
exist, such as the British imperial system and the US customary system of weights and measures,
in those systems most or all of the units are now defined in terms of the metric system, such as
the US footwhich is now a defined decimal fraction of a metre.
The metric system is also extensible, and new base and derived units are defined as needed in
fields such as radiology and chemistry. The most recent derived unit, the katal, for catalytic
activity, was added in 1999. Recent changes are directed toward defining base units in terms of
invariant constants of physics to provide more precise realisations of units for advances in
science and industry.