The Absolute Measurement of Volume
A particular volume is an arbitrary quantity of no general interest and the measurement of volume acquires importance only as a means to the determination of density in absolute terms. This chapter is concerned with the measurement of volume as a step in the determination of the density of a fluid or solid and thus towards the establishment of fundamental relations between physical constants. It is of interest, however, to look back over the history of measurements of volume for, in the past, units of volume had a more significant place in systems of measurement than they occupy today. Many substances of trade, such as corn, meal, milk or wine, were measured by volume rather than by mass and so reasonably accurate measures of capacity were provided in all pre-Metric systems of measurement from Babylonian and Egyptian times onwards. In the early scientific period it became possible to weigh liquids much more accurately than to measure volumes and so the measures of capacity came to be defined in terms of the mass of liquid they contained at a given temperature, as indeed the English gallon is legally defined today.
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