Definition: a system of weights and measures, universal for scientific use, based upon the meter, which was originally intended to be one ten-millionth of a quadrant of the earth's meridian and now is based on the length that light travels in a vacuum in a given period of time (see meter). Prefixes of the meter (and other standards) reflect either fractions or multiples of the meter and are identical to the International System of Units (q.v.). The unit of weight is the gram, which is the weight of one cubic centimeter of water, equivalent to 15.432358 grains. The unit of volume is the liter or one cubic decimeter, equal to 1.056688 U.S. liquid quarts; a cubic centimeter is about 16.23073 U.S. minims.
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