What is k? kilobyte, kilobit and kilogram fundamentals.

We express thousand as “k”, such as year like 1999 and 2000  if we take as consideration for 1999 we generally say as usual 1999 but in case of 2000 we smartly express as 2k. We do not express as “t”, abbreviation of “thousand”. In case of petrol or milk tanker of 2000 litre we say 20kl for easy expression or communication. But what does it mean and from where it comes for expression. To know the reason we have to go back to long before.

The Greek words “Chilioi” or “Kilio” which was used from early time.  They used it in their day to day activities socially or any business purpose. French people also used this word but they pronounced as “kilo” and written as kilo also. And the abbreviation of Kilo is “k”. In 1795 the word “kilo” had been adopted in French. Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier who was originally Pioneer to adopt this word. In 1799 it was officially adopted in metric system in French. Antoine Lavoisier was a French nobleman and chemist. After French revolution he brought chemical revolution in French. He had a great influence on history of biological science and history of chemical science.

Briefly about Antoine Laurent Lavoisier 

Antoine Lavoisier was born on 26th August 1743 in a rich and wealthy family of Paris. His father was attorney of Paris parliament. Antoine started his schooling at College des Quatre Nations under University of Paris at the age of 11. Antoine studied botany, chemistry, astronomy and mathematics and he was very much interested on science subjects. A. Lavoisier took admission in law school and received bachelor degree in 1763. After receiving law degree he was admitted to the bar but never do practise because he was very much enthusiastic about science and scientific education.

Left: Lavoisier in Laboratory / Right: Lavoisier and his wife Marie Anne

Early works

  1. First chemical publication in 1763-1764
  2. Worked on Geological survey 1767
  3. In French Academy of Sciences (most elite scientific society), 1764 – He reads his first paper on the chemical and physical properties of gypsum or hydrated calcium sulphate.
  4. In 1766 he was awarded Gold Medal by the King of French for best easy writing on topic of urban street lighting.
  5. Took provisional appointed to Academy of Sciences.
  6. Worked on first geological map of France in 1769.

As a Social Worker / Reformer / Contribution in Science

Lavoisier was a great contributor to the sciences. He was basically a humanitarian, all his works toward science was for benefitting of people.

1. Scientific Agriculture

Lavoisier took initiative for the establishment of a Royal Commission on Agriculture. As a secretary, he spent his own money to improve agricultural yields at Sologne where agricultural land quality was very poor. In 1788 Lavoisier submitted a report to the commission about his 10 years experimental efforts to introduce new crops and livestock. Ergotism disease which was common at that area, his report was very much beneficial to improve livelihood of population.  

2. Purifying water and Gunpowder Commission.

In 1768, he took a new project to design an Aqueduct. The goal of this project was to bring water from the  Yvette River into Paris so that the people could have clean drinking water. As it was a big as well as cumbersome project and could not be commenced, he rather turned his focus to purify water from the Seine river.

Antoine Lavoisier was also interested in air quality and spent time in research on the health risks associated with gunpowder’s effect on the air. He performed a study on how to reconstruct the Hotel Dieu hospital in 1772, after it had been damaged by fire, considering proper ventilation and clean air throughout.

3. Industrial Development

Lavoisier did research on combustion. In 1775 he appointed as commissioner of Gun powder and replaced a private company who was supplying poor quality gun powder. After his efforts, both the quantity and quality of French gunpowder drastically improved, and it became a source of revenue for the French government. Appointment as Gunpowder Commission brought a great benefit to Lavoisier’s scientific career. As a commissioner, Antoine Lavoisier worked between 1775 and 1792 and enjoyed both a house and a laboratory in the Royal Arsenal.

A. Lavoisier was very much influencial in the formation of the Du Pont gunpowder business because he trained E.I du Pont, founder of gunpowder-making mills in France.

Book on Chemistry by Antoine Lavoisier –

Elements of Chemistry, in a Systematic Order, Containing All the Modern Discoveries. (Amazon India)

Book on – Antoine Lavoisier: Science, Administration and Revolution (Cambridge Science Biographies) (Amazon India)

👉Buy from Amazon USA

k for kilo, K for Kelvin

Now what is the difference between small letter “k” and capital letter “K”? Small letter “k” is used for metric system means 1000 gram = 1 kg and capital letter “K” is used for “Kelvin”, the base unit of temperature expressed as International System of Units (SI).

As it was an easy way of expression so in each of unit “k” became popular such as kg = kilogram, kl = kilolitre, km = kilo meter etc. So 1000 means k if we say straight way, then 50,000 is definitely 50k.

“k” in Digital Information System

For digital information measurement, unit “Bit” is taken as lowest. There is a difference in “Bit” and “Byte” that we should know.  Byte is eight times bigger than Bit (8000 Bits = 1000 Bytes = 1 kilo byte).

Bit and Byte ?

Now how bit and byte express? Bit is expressed as “b” (small letter b) and Byte is expressed as “B” (capital letter B). If we say kB, it is called “kilobyte” and if we say kb, it is called “kilobit” (both k are small letter), whereas if we express as Mega, Giga then M and G would be capital letter. So its an exception for “kilo” only.

GB, MB and kB // Generally we know kilo means multiple to thousand (1000), but in case of digital measurement or data storage system it is little different.

Here, 1Giga Byte = 1024 Mega Byte (not multiple of 1000), 1MB = 1024 kB

Gb, Mb and kb // 1 Giga Bit = 1024 Mega Bit, 1Mb = 1024 kb and so on.

There is 8 bits in a byte. If we want to download 5MB file (pdf, audio, video, JPG picture etc.) through a 5Mbps internet connection it will take 8 seconds.

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