PDA

View Full Version : Metric system in the usa


Mac'nCheese
May 2, 2011, 06:55 PM
I remember in elementary school, learning about the metric system since we were all going to switch to it. That never happened. I wonder why....

iJohnHenry
May 2, 2011, 07:18 PM
I remember in elementary school, learning about the metric system since we were all going to switch to it. That never happened. I wonder why....

A fair question.

Ask NASA about the 'problem' with the Mars orbiter (http://articles.cnn.com/1999-09-30/tech/9909_30_mars.metric.02_1_climate-orbiter-spacecraft-team-metric-system?_s=PM:TECH). :D

steadysignal
May 2, 2011, 07:40 PM
mac -

i really wish we could have gotten there.

it seems so foreign now, but in a system where all is divisible by ten makes life very easy.

but, we'll keep using our libres and ounces and such...the imperial way.

meh.

Cboss
May 2, 2011, 07:55 PM
According to this article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication_in_the_United_States#20th_century), the metric system was supposed to be almost fully implemented in the US by 2000, but because of a lack of enough public and government support through the 70s-90s the program essentially got shut down.

As an engineering student, I hope we will switch soon. The metric system makes so much more sense and is far easier to learn. Even for more common measurements (How many teaspoons/tablespoons in a cup again? Yards in a mile?), SI is a far superior system.

I think the biggest obstacle right now is the older generations who have grown up with imperial units and don't want to learn a new system. It should at least be taught equally in schools so a future switch won't cause as much resistance.

dukebound85
May 2, 2011, 07:56 PM
According to this article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication_in_the_United_States#20th_century), the metric system was supposed to be almost fully implemented in the US by 2000, but because of a lack of enough public and government support through the 70s-90s the program essentially got shut down.

As an engineering student, I hope we will switch soon. The metric system makes so much more sense and is far easier to learn. Even for more common measurements (How many teaspoons/tablespoons in a cup again? Yards in a mile?), SI is a far superior system.

I think the biggest obstacle right now is the older generations who have grown up with imperial units and don't want to learn a new system. It should at least be taught equally in schools so a future switch won't cause as much resistance.

SI is superior in conversions only
Imperial is superior as I actually have a feel for the numbers

Rodimus Prime
May 2, 2011, 07:57 PM
According to this article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication_in_the_United_States#20th_century), the metric system was supposed to be almost fully implemented in the US by 2000, but because of a lack of enough public and government support through the 70s-90s the program essentially got shut down.

As an engineering student, I hope we will switch soon. The metric system makes so much more sense and is far easier to learn. Even for more common measurements (How many teaspoons/tablespoons in a cup again? Yards in a mile?), SI is a far superior system.

I think the biggest obstacle right now is the older generations who have grown up with imperial units and don't want to learn a new system. It should at least be taught equally in schools so a future switch won't cause as much resistance.
You missed the fact that so many of our cook books are in standard US units and that not going to changed.

I think SI for a lot of things is just better but things like miles, MPH ect are just not going to get phased out they are to much the norm i everything we use.

I tend to jump between the 2 fairly easily.

Apple OC
May 2, 2011, 07:59 PM
a lb. of butter is still called a lb. of butter here in Canada

grapes911
May 2, 2011, 08:02 PM
I understand the benefits of the SI system. I honestly think it's a better system and we should use it. That being said, I don't like change. Heck, many people don't like change. I understand our system. I know when I've driven about 10 miles. I'd struggle guessing when I've driven 10 kilometers. Why change now?

And fyi, we actually use United States customary units, which are very close to imperial units.

Cboss
May 2, 2011, 08:02 PM
SI is superior in conversions only
Imperial is superior as I actually have a feel for the numbers

I also have a better feel for imperial units, but wouldn't someone who has grown up with SI have a great feel for those units?

The conversion to SI would be confusing for those who haven't grown up with it, I know I would have a bit of trouble getting used to it, but after a generation or two everyone would be used to SI.

balamw
May 2, 2011, 08:04 PM
a lb. of butter is still called a lb. of butter here in Canada

When growing up in Europe in the 70s a pound was simply redefined as 500 g. For most purposes the 10% error is insignificant.

Volume units (1 liter = 1 quart) work similarly, and 1-2 liter containers are fairly common even here in the US.

B

iJohnHenry
May 2, 2011, 08:04 PM
a lb. of butter is still called a lb. of butter here in Canada

An oddity, a throwback perhaps? :p

My margarine is in metric. As is my moo-cow-****-milk, and many other things :D

balamw
May 2, 2011, 08:07 PM
Don't you guys in the great white north buy milk in bundles of 4 1 liter bags anyway. :p

B

Apple OC
May 2, 2011, 08:10 PM
Don't you guys in the great white north buy milk in bundles of 4 1 liter bags anyway. :p

B

usually 3 one litre bags ... for the price of 4

iJohnHenry
May 2, 2011, 08:11 PM
Don't you guys in the great white north buy milk in bundles of 4 1 liter bags anyway. :p

B

No, we buy them in three 1 & 1/3 litre bags, to total 4 litres. :p

McGiord
May 2, 2011, 08:25 PM
The main reason that it will never happen -> they never will charge the gas by the liter, they want to keep it by the gallon...and continue increasing the price, if they change to the liters...a lot of people will be confused and start to complaint and blame the price increases on the metric system...wait they may want to use it as a smoke flare....hum,....:confused:

iJohnHenry
May 2, 2011, 08:31 PM
The main reason that it will never happen -> they never will charge the gas by the liter, they want to keep it by the gallon...and continue increasing the price, if they change to the liters...a lot of people will be confused and start to complaint and blame the price increases on the metric system...wait they may want to use it as a smoke flare....hum,....:confused:

Error. ;) Increases at the metric level are more subtle.

Also, we switched from a per-gallon "road" tax, to an ad velorem ??? tax, when now sold by the litre.

At that instant the Government got into the oil business.

And it's be downhill ever since.

Dany M
May 2, 2011, 08:39 PM
We need to switch to the metric system, what we have now is ****ing crazy when looking at the rest of the world...this is coming from a bio major who has to deal with SI units daily

wordoflife
May 2, 2011, 08:57 PM
In school we do stuff in metrics because its "the international system" but anyways, it would be too hard/annoying to just start using it. People in the US are more familiar with a foot rather than a metre, and thats just gonna throw everyone off.

SuperCachetes
May 2, 2011, 09:04 PM
SI is superior in conversions only
Imperial is superior as I actually have a feel for the numbers

Please tell me that's sarcasm. :rolleyes:

I have a "feel" for Imperial measurements, and they are a pain in the ***.

Apple OC
May 2, 2011, 09:06 PM
The main reason that it will never happen -> they never will charge the gas by the liter, they want to keep it by the gallon...and continue increasing the price, if they change to the liters...a lot of people will be confused and start to complaint and blame the price increases on the metric system...wait they may want to use it as a smoke flare....hum,....:confused:

$1.38 per litre for gas sounds cheaper ... Gas pricing may be the reason the US adopts the metric system

FX120
May 2, 2011, 09:08 PM
We need to switch to the metric system, what we have now is ****ing crazy when looking at the rest of the world...this is coming from a bio major who has to deal with SI units daily

At least we're not as bad as the UK...

Abstract
May 2, 2011, 10:30 PM
$1.38 per litre for gas sounds cheaper ... Gas pricing may be the reason the US adopts the metric system

And people sound less obese when stating their weight in kilograms. ;)

People buy crack in grams, no? If they can get it, so can others.

CalBoy
May 3, 2011, 12:58 AM
SI is superior in conversions only
Imperial is superior as I actually have a feel for the numbers

Please tell me that's sarcasm. :rolleyes:

I have a "feel" for Imperial measurements, and they are a pain in the ***.

I don't think so, and I'm not being sarcastic.

Temperature is a great example. Celsius and Kelvin are fantastic for science and engineering for obvious reasons, but when it comes to everyday uses, Fahrenheit makes more sense. It's very intuitive to think of numbers on a 100 scale. That's why when you're looking at the weather or taking someone's body temperature, it's easier to get a grasp of what is "high" or "low." Fahrenheit is also more accurate for casual uses because it can express smaller changes more easily than Celsius.

The metric system also lacks easy naming schemes for everyday sizes. Recipes, for example, would have to be written out in ml rather than cups or spoons. In such a situation, base 10 is not helpful at all because recipes are rarely divided or multiplied by 10. The metric system could in fact be worse for such applications because cutting 473 ml in half is more of a pain than cutting 2 cups in half (and yes, while recipes could theoretically be modified to be in flat metric ratios, the fact is that there are far too many recipes in existence already for that to be realistic in the short-medium term).

However, we have been seeing the transition to metric in some subtler ways. Soda, water, and juice have been sold in metric quantities for a while now, and I've even seen more and more bags of chips, boxes of cereal, and some candy bars (mind you not popular ones) come in metric sizes. This is obviously advantageous for manufacturers because it means a streamlined production line. I just don't think we're going to get most people to use the metric system for non-scientific daily tasks because it may not be as superior as it would seem at first blush.

SuperBrown
May 3, 2011, 01:23 AM
SI is superior in conversions only
Imperial is superior as I actually have a feel for the numbers

Yes, let's not change it because YOU actually have a feel for the numbers.

dukebound85
May 3, 2011, 01:25 AM
Yes, let's not change it because YOU actually have a feel for the numbers.

Yea, it's not just me who has this "feel" or comfortability with the numbers. Anyone raised in the system does...

I do believe that the feel for the numbers and the familiarity of the units is perhaps the strongest reason why it is still around....

paolo-
May 3, 2011, 01:29 AM
For the love of your education system, do make the switch! I'm an engineering student from Canada. So I have to learn both imperial and SI. Imperial is such a pain in the ass. The units don't mean anything and they are not made to fit with each other so you have conversions factors everywhere. Also, pound force and pound mass, WTF?

Really, most opinions I see in the US to keep the imperial system is because you're not accustomed to it. Fahrenheit being more accurate than Celsius or Kelvins, really? Just add a decimal, that's the beauty of it, you add a decimal point or a factor of ten and Earth doesn't suddenly implode. I think it grows on you, you can relate things much more easily, let's say you're comparing something in feet or inches, or pounds and onces, you don't get a real feel for it.

Is it change just for change's sake? Up to you, basically everyone else on Earth made their choice. ;)

EricNau
May 3, 2011, 01:34 AM
I don't think so, and I'm not being sarcastic.

Temperature is a great example. Celsius and Kelvin are fantastic for science and engineering for obvious reasons, but when it comes to everyday uses, Fahrenheit makes more sense. It's very intuitive to think of numbers on a 100 scale. That's why when you're looking at the weather or taking someone's body temperature, it's easier to get a grasp of what is "high" or "low." Fahrenheit is also more accurate for casual uses because it can express smaller changes more easily than Celsius.
I think I have to disagree. It may be easier for Americans to grasp the "highs" and "lows" of the Fahrenheit scale, but any European would have a different concept of high and low. Also, the difference in Celsius units is rather insignificant. For example, the difference between 37 and 38 degrees Celsius is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, hardly a noticeable difference when it comes to weather forecasts.

The metric system also lacks easy naming schemes for everyday sizes. Recipes, for example, would have to be written out in ml rather than cups or spoons. In such a situation, base 10 is not helpful at all because recipes are rarely divided or multiplied by 10. The metric system could in fact be worse for such applications because cutting 473 ml in half is more of a pain than cutting 2 cups in half (and yes, while recipes could theoretically be modified to be in flat metric ratios, the fact is that there are far too many recipes in existence already for that to be realistic in the short-medium term).
I'm not so sure. If a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons, is it not just as easy to measure out 30ml? Might using one graduated measuring "cup" be easier than a series of various-sized spoons and cups? For dry goods, grams are easily measured on a scale. With practice and experience, it's quicker and more precise than measuring exactly three cups of leveled flour: you can just sift the flour into your mixing bowl until the scale reads 375 grams. Indeed this method uses less dishes, too.

Are there really any benefits to the Customary scale, or do we just perceive benefits because it's what we're used to? And if the latter is the case, why make American students learn two systems of units when one fulfills all needs?

MacNut
May 3, 2011, 01:36 AM
I prefer my summer temperatures getting out of the 30's.:p

dukebound85
May 3, 2011, 01:36 AM
For the love of your education system, do make the switch! I'm an engineering student from Canada. So I have to learn both imperial and SI. Imperial is such a pain in the ass. The units don't mean anything and they are not made to fit with each other so you have conversions factors everywhere. Also, pound force and pound mass, WTF?

Pound force and pound mass compared to kg's and N's? really? Not that hard to grasp lol

Additionally, you would be surprised at how many engineering applications here in the US still use Imperial




Are there really any benefits to the Customary scale, or do we just perceive benefits because it's what we're used to? And if the latter is the case, why make American students learn two systems of units when one fulfills all needs?

I have to ask you, aside from base 10, what makes metric superior?

If it is to have an easier time with conversions and what not, then why would I leave a system that I am very familiar with, even if it is not base 10?

I don't believe one system is better than the other. They are just different.

yetanotherdave
May 3, 2011, 01:47 AM
You think you've got it bad? In Britain we have
milk and beer by the pint
coke by the litre
roads by the mile
tablecloths/fabric etc by the metre
petrol/diesel by the litre
fuel efficiency is measured in miles per gallon but carbon emissions are measured in grams per kilometer.
weight of people in stones and pounds
sugar/flour etc in kilograms
fruit by the pound
cheese by grams
bread loaves are labelled in grams, bread rolls sold by the dozen.
height in feet and inches.

and so on. It's a real mess. Basically we started to change, then stopped because people didn't like it. Then the EU decided certain things must be measured imperial, so now we have a have way house where nothing makes sense.

We switched from pricing petrol in gallons to litres when petrol got to 99.9 pence per gallon, and it was easier to change the signs to litres than add another digit. :rolleyes:

Andeavor
May 3, 2011, 01:52 AM
My margarine is in metric. As is my moo-cow-****-milk, and many other things :D
Don't forget the chocolate moo-cow-****-milk!

I buy that in liters.

EricNau
May 3, 2011, 02:04 AM
I have to ask you, aside from base 10, what makes metric superior?

If it is to have an easier time with conversions and what not, then why would I leave a system that I am very familiar with, even if it is not base 10?

I don't believe one system is better than the other. They are just different.
That's sort of like asking, "aside from saving lives, what makes vaccines so great?" Base-10 is exactly what makes metric superior. Having a system of units based entirely on decimals is extremely powerful. You can convert between units simply by moving a decimal point, express very small/large numbers in scientific notation, and clearly see the greater of two numbers with precision clearly expressed.

For example, which is greater? 5/16 or 7/18

And if I've measured a golfball to be 42/25 inches in diameter, what is the precision of my measurement? Expressed as decimals, I know that a golfball measured at 42.67mm is precise to the nearest hundredth of a millimeter.

Now, of course you can express inches, feet, yards, etc. in decimal notation, but then you can't convert them without a calculator. If I tell you that a golfball has a diameter of 0.14 feet, how many inches is that? (Turns out to be 1.68.)

Besides, let's not forget that the metric system has popularity on it's side. Costly mistakes are made every year because units weren't converted between metric and customary correctly.

clientsiman
May 3, 2011, 02:17 AM
You think you've got it bad? In Britain we have
milk and beer by the pint
coke by the litre
roads by the mile
tablecloths/fabric etc by the metre
petrol/diesel by the litre
fuel efficiency is measured in miles per gallon but carbon emissions are measured in grams per kilometer.
weight of people in stones and pounds
sugar/flour etc in kilograms
fruit by the pound
cheese by grams
bread loaves are labelled in grams, bread rolls sold by the dozen.
height in feet and inches.

and so on. It's a real mess. Basically we started to change, then stopped because people didn't like it. Then the EU decided certain things must be measured imperial, so now we have a have way house where nothing makes sense.

We switched from pricing petrol in gallons to litres when petrol got to 99.9 pence per gallon, and it was easier to change the signs to litres than add another digit. :rolleyes:

I grew up in Greece using only SI so it was very strange for me to measure weight in stones as I haven't heard it before. Luckily everyone in Scotland also knew their weight in kilos too.

My biggest problem was that distances where in miles and therefore everything was way further that I though. It's just an inconvenience but after a while you get used to it.

CalBoy
May 3, 2011, 02:29 AM
Really, most opinions I see in the US to keep the imperial system is because you're not accustomed to it. Fahrenheit being more accurate than Celsius or Kelvins, really? Just add a decimal, that's the beauty of it, you add a decimal point or a factor of ten and Earth doesn't suddenly implode.

I know this sounds incredulous and insulting, but people are terrible at math. The more of it you make them think about (whether it's decimals or fractions or anything else) the worse they perform. It's why you'll see almost every recommended quantity expressed as a whole number. It reduces error for the untrained, and makes expressing the value simpler.


Is it change just for change's sake? Up to you, basically everyone else on Earth made their choice. ;)

Did they really? How many people, after you factor out colonization, dictatorship, and a complete absence of prior standardization, actually switched? I can think of only a few countries, none of which were as large and as diverse as the US is.

Besides, it's not as if sciences and engineering are out of the loop. Only civilian uses are Standard. How does it affect you, a Canadian, if grandma bakes using cups and Fahrenheit?

I think I have to disagree. It may be easier for Americans to grasp the "highs" and "lows" of the Fahrenheit scale, but any European would have a different concept of high and low. Also, the difference in Celsius units is rather insignificant. For example, the difference between 37 and 38 degrees Celsius is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, hardly a noticeable difference when it comes to weather forecasts.

No, but 1.8 is a big difference when it comes to taking a baby's temperature or figuring out if your meat is done just right. For a child, 99 is considered a mild fevor and is 37.22. 98.6 is considered "normal" and is 37 flat in C. However, if you had a mother trying to keep track of her child's fever over a period of time, the small variations between those two temps would be a lot more important. The total variation between 99, 99.5, and 100 F is so small on the C scale (37.22, 37.5, 37.77) that it's a lot easier to make mistakes in recording or reporting the results. Sure it's easy to do when it's your job in a professional setting, but lay people make mistakes all the time. Using a scale that makes the number differences larger (and psychologically significant, because you can bet no mother is going to forget that her child has a fever of 100) helps reduce those errors.


I'm not so sure. If a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons, is it not just as easy to measure out 30ml? Might using one graduated measuring "cup" be easier than a series of various-sized spoons and cups? For dry goods, grams are easily measured on a scale. With practice and experience, it's quicker and more precise than measuring exactly three cups of leveled flour: you can just sift the flour into your mixing bowl until the scale reads 375 grams. Indeed this method uses less dishes, too.

There are a lot of measuring cups and spoons that do come graduated these days (no, they're not in the "beyond" section of BBB), but it's not always possible to go by weight. Weight also doesn't solve much because it would add an additional piece of equipment that isn't needed for a lot of recipes. It's also impractical to keep weighing out ingredients, especially if their net weight is going to be in the few grams. You also probably wouldn't save any dishes because flour is usually added into other wet ingredients like butter and sugar separately, so a second bowl would be used regardless.

Other than that, any vessel marked "30ml" used for measuring would essentially be a tablespoon. A rose by any other name, really. Except that the 30ml rose is clunkier to say. In fact, you'd still need names for all of the common measures even using SI. Is everyone really going to go around calling a cup the "237ml vessel?" Are people going to start calling it the "liter quartet of milk?" What would you do for the measures that have a secondary meaning? Will people still be able to call it a "pint" if it's sold as 500ml?

Are there really any benefits to the Customary scale, or do we just perceive benefits because it's what we're used to? And if the latter is the case, why make American students learn two systems of units when one fulfills all needs?

There are some (albeit few these days). For daily tasks, the composite numbers in Imperial units are easy to halve and quarter. This has less relevance today with prepackaged food and digital equipment, but at one time it made practical sense for a lot more uses. The residual benefits are still present in home baking and similar activities where base 10 doesn't help, but those are the few things that still make heavy use of standard units anyhow. I don't think it's that onerous to know these days, especially with apps, Google, and conversion charts everywhere around us.

yamabushi
May 3, 2011, 02:35 AM
There is a strong economic argument for completing the switch now in the U.S. as it can help promote more trade. With the current weak dollar this is a good time to make a stronger push for more exports. Having products with measurement units that already match those of most of the rest of the world reduces costs and enables more products to be exposed to the international market. This means that short term costs to switch should be a good investment for the country overall. U.S. consumers likewise can benefit from reduced prices for some products and a greater variety of products available.

There are also benefits from reduced time spent on education of the outdated system and more natural proficiency with the newer more universal system. Students, scientists, and engineers in particular can have a more intuitive grasp of work done internationally and save time spent on performing conversions. This makes them more productive and competitive when compared to international colleagues. The cost in time and money for conversions of data and products is actually quite significant in certain industries.

puma1552
May 3, 2011, 02:49 AM
I'll preface by saying I'm an engineer, so I see the merits of the metric system.

However, the reason I think Americans have such a problem with it is because there is no analog for one foot. You go from decimeters (which nobody actually uses) straight to a meter.

It can be very difficult to get a feel for how tall someone who is 165 cm is.

The Californian
May 3, 2011, 03:03 AM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

Working in medicine in the US, this us the bane of my existence.

EricNau
May 3, 2011, 03:25 AM
No, but 1.8 is a big difference when it comes to taking a baby's temperature or figuring out if your meat is done just right. For a child, 99 is considered a mild fevor and is 37.22. 98.6 is considered "normal" and is 37 flat in C. However, if you had a mother trying to keep track of her child's fever over a period of time, the small variations between those two temps would be a lot more important. The total variation between 99, 99.5, and 100 F is so small on the C scale (37.22, 37.5, 37.77) that it's a lot easier to make mistakes in recording or reporting the results. Sure it's easy to do when it's your job in a professional setting, but lay people make mistakes all the time. Using a scale that makes the number differences larger (and psychologically significant, because you can bet no mother is going to forget that her child has a fever of 100) helps reduce those errors.
First of all, using two decimal places is not necessary for recording a baby's temperature, Fahrenheit or Celsius. 37.2 C is equivalent to 98.96 F, and 37.22 C is equal to 98.996 F. The hundredth's place is clearly superfluous. Therefore, your numbers reported to one decimal place in Celsius become (37.2, 37.5, 37.8), corresponding to 99, 99.5, 100.0 Fahrenheit. ...Plenty accurate for household thermometer readings.

I see no reason why 99, 99.5, and 100 are easier to track than 37.2, 37.5, and 37.7. As you said, we accept body temp to be 98.6 and 37.0 in Celsius. If decimals are difficult to remember, then clearly we should pick the scale that represents normal body temp as an integer, right? ;)

There are a lot of measuring cups and spoons that do come graduated these days (no, they're not in the "beyond" section of BBB), but it's not always possible to go by weight.

Weight also doesn't solve much because it would add an additional piece of equipment that isn't needed for a lot of recipes.
Perhaps your set of measuring cups is the additional piece of equipment. Indeed you wouldn't need them. For a recipe in SI, the only items you would need are an electronic balance, graduating measuring "cup," and a graduated cylinder. No series of cups or spoons required (although, they do of course come in metric for those so inclined).

It's also impractical to keep weighing out ingredients, especially if their net weight is going to be in the few grams. You also probably wouldn't save any dishes because flour is usually added into other wet ingredients like butter and sugar separately, so a second bowl would be used regardless.
It might seem that way to you, but the majority of the world uses weight to measure dry ingredients. For them it's just as easy.

Plus it's more intuitive and more accurate to measure dry goods by weight.

Other than that, any vessel marked "30ml" used for measuring would essentially be a tablespoon. A rose by any other name, really. Except that the 30ml rose is clunkier to say. In fact, you'd still need names for all of the common measures even using SI.
Why would you need alternative names? A recipe would call for "30ml" of any given liquid. There's no need to call it anything else.

Is everyone really going to go around calling a cup the "237ml vessel?"
Well, no one would ask for a 237ml vessel because that's an arbitrary number based on a different system of units. But if you wanted, yes, you could measure that amount in a graduated measuring cup (or weigh it on your balance).

Are people going to start calling it the "liter quartet of milk?" What would you do for the measures that have a secondary meaning? Will people still be able to call it a "pint" if it's sold as 500ml?
I suspect people would call it a "quarter liter," much like I would say "quarter gallon."

And no, you wouldn't call 500ml a "pint" because, well, why would you? :confused:

...But countries using SI do call 500ml a demi-liter ("demi" meaning "half").

There are some (albeit few these days). For daily tasks, the composite numbers in Imperial units are easy to halve and quarter.
This is the case with Si units as well. 500, 250, 125, 75, etc. Though SI units can also be divided by any number you wish. Want to make 1/5 of the recipe? ...Just divide all the numbers by five.

This has less relevance today with prepackaged food and digital equipment, but at one time it made practical sense for a lot more uses. The residual benefits are still present in home baking and similar activities where base 10 doesn't help, but those are the few things that still make heavy use of standard units anyhow. I don't think it's that onerous to know these days, especially with apps, Google, and conversion charts everywhere around us.
No, but it is onerous for kids to learn SI units, which is a mandatory skill in this global world. Like I said, why teach kids two units of measure if one will suffice?

iStudentUK
May 3, 2011, 06:17 AM
You think you've got it bad? In Britain we have
milk and beer by the pint
coke by the litre
roads by the mile
tablecloths/fabric etc by the metre
petrol/diesel by the litre
fuel efficiency is measured in miles per gallon but carbon emissions are measured in grams per kilometer.
weight of people in stones and pounds
sugar/flour etc in kilograms
fruit by the pound
cheese by grams
bread loaves are labelled in grams, bread rolls sold by the dozen.
height in feet and inches.

It is a mess here. I wish we would switch fully to metric. I think we are getting there, very slowly. For example, 15 years ago the weather used to always be in oC and then oF, now just oC is very common. Supermarkets sell fruit and veg with the per kg price much larger than per lb. The around the corner sells milk by the litre which is nice. More and more people are using metres and kilograms to measure their height and weight. Some things are more problematic, there are millions of pint glasses for beer and all our road signs would be a fortune to replace with kilometres!

The imperial system is crazy, but I think it will slowly but surely die out in the UK. Metric was pushed in about 40 years ago? Give it another 40 and I think we will be fully there!

Hopefully our American cousins will finally see sense and start talking in civilised speak soon.

iJohnHenry
May 3, 2011, 06:35 AM
Some things are more problematic, there are millions of pint glasses for beer

<aside>

Ah yes, the 20-oz English pint vs. the 16-oz American one. :D

And near-beer at that!! :p

</aside>

iStudentUK
May 3, 2011, 06:36 AM
<aside>

Ah yes, the 20-oz English pint vs. the 16-oz American one. :D

And near-beer at that!! :p

</aside>

When I went to Switzerland they sold beer in litre glasses. That was a good trip! :D

Just wish they did proper ale not just lager!

SactoGuy18
May 3, 2011, 07:38 AM
There are a few places where metric measurements are now standard here in the USA:

1. Soft drink bottles are now measured in one and two-liter sizes for the large bottles.

2. Medicine are all measured in milligrams for the amount of medicine in each pill.

The problem with the rest going metric is the ENORMOUS conversion cost for packaging sizes, home appliance settings, and changing road signs. Maybe the plan should be phased in over a ten-year period....

Abstract
May 3, 2011, 07:46 AM
Pound force and pound mass compared to kg's and N's? really? Not that hard to grasp lol

Then making the switch to metric should be easier for you than you think.


I have to ask you, aside from base 10, what makes metric superior?

That isn't enough?




The metric system also lacks easy naming schemes for everyday sizes. Recipes, for example, would have to be written out in ml rather than cups or spoons. In such a situation, base 10 is not helpful at all because recipes are rarely divided or multiplied by 10.

Perhaps true, but just because you switch to metric, doesn't mean you need to stop using tablespoons and teaspoons for measurements. It's all an approximation anyway, since there are far more than 2 different spoon sizes, and many of them look like they're pretty much equal in size to a tablespoon.

So if you're cooking, do what everyone else does with their spoons; if you need a tablespoon, grab the big-ish one and estimate. If you needed more precision than that, why wouldn't you use ml? :confused:

Don't panic
May 3, 2011, 08:15 AM
there is no rational reason to argue that the metric system is not superior to the imperial in every form and shape.
one is intuitive, consistent and accurate, the other is random.

the 'feel' argument is honestly ludicrous beacause mostly everyone has a better 'feel' for the system the grew up with. it's just a matter of habit.

the only reasons we haven't switched yet is
a) economic, as conversion would cost some money -but it stimulates the economy!-
b) misplaced patriotism, as anything done in the US 'must' be better then what is done elsewhere because it is 'american'

those who oppose switching i think are underestimate people's ability to adapt. a well organized switch would take half a generation and cause little to no problems, in my opinion. plus it would give the usual suspects something more to complain about, once the conspiracy theory of the day becomes passe' :D

and really are we arguing that we should stick to imperial because of cooking? seriously?
apart from the fact that cup/spoon/teaspoon is intrinsically ambiguous (since they come in different sizes) just

cuisines from metric system places
italian
french

cuisines from imperial system places
american
british

i rest my case, your honor ;)

iStudentUK
May 3, 2011, 08:27 AM
cuisines from metric system places
italian
french

cuisines from imperial system places
american
british


Britain is halfway between imperial and metric. Which makes a lot of sense. We are fatter than the Italians and French, but not as fat as you Yanks. The French in particular look down on British cooking, but not as much as American cooking! British cheese isn't as good as French/Italian but is a damn sight better than that plastic American stuff.

Picking up a good correlation here!

benhollberg
May 3, 2011, 08:29 AM
Metric system should be in the U.S.. No point in keeping an odd system.

Huntn
May 3, 2011, 09:19 AM
Metric system should be in the U.S.. No point in keeping an odd system.

For manufacturing, my impression is that the U.S. does use metric. Maybe that is because most stuff is manufactured overseas or for something like automobiles, they are marketed worldwide.:o However for living around town, I like my miles, inches, gallons, and pounds.

garybUK
May 3, 2011, 09:33 AM
You think you've got it bad? In Britain we have
milk and beer by the pint
coke by the litre
roads by the mile
tablecloths/fabric etc by the metre
petrol/diesel by the litre
fuel efficiency is measured in miles per gallon but carbon emissions are measured in grams per kilometer.
weight of people in stones and pounds
sugar/flour etc in kilograms
fruit by the pound
cheese by grams
bread loaves are labelled in grams, bread rolls sold by the dozen.
height in feet and inches.


Actually all foods are legally sold in grammes and kg.
Pint's are not legal for anything apart from Milk, Beer & Cider.

The only imperial we use legally are on the roads, Miles and by motorway exits are in yards!!!

Clothes are double labelled in CM and IN, my car measures in kmph from factory.

Weight is always measured in Kg by doctors, gym's, boot's etc, only stones are used by old people and really old scales.

Basically they need to switch the road system to Km's instead of stupid Miles.

snberk103
May 3, 2011, 09:55 AM
....
I have to ask you, aside from base 10, what makes metric superior?

If it is to have an easier time with conversions and what not, then why would I leave a system that I am very familiar with, even if it is not base 10?

I don't believe one system is better than the other. They are just different.

Metric is just easier to learn. Period. How many inches to 7 yards? If I want to divide 7 yards, 8 & 13/16 inches into 3 equal sections (+/- a 1/4 inch) what is that length? If I want to estimate how heavy something is, I can fill a metric container with water and know how heavy it is since 1 litre = 1 kilo. Etc Etc How heavy is a gallon of water? A pint? A cup?

Yes there will be transitional period. People with a "feel" for things will be confused for a bit. But keep in mind that many of the things that measure will be in US units for a bit.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the USA the only nation still using the old measurements? Certainly the only developed nation.

For manufacturing, my impression is that the U.S. does use metric. Maybe that is because most stuff is manufactured overseas or for something like automobiles, they are marketed worldwide.

I can tell you that a lot of stuff manufactured in the US is still using the old units. We Canadians, supposedly metric, get to live with it. We don't make our own paint cans, so we buy a gallon of paint. But... we can't label it as a gallon so it's sold as a 3.79 litre can. Same thing for beer. We buy it in 331ml, or 347ml units (or something like that).

Best of all.... When Environment Canada calls for a -5º day I crank the thermostat up to 69 and think about roasting a 3kg chicken with 1/2lb of potatoes, in an oven set at 375. When I bought the chicken the supermarket had a sale on in the deli. Buy 1/2 lb of sliced roast beef, and get 100gs of potato salad free.

I'll drive 10 km to visit my friend who lives in a 1200sq/ft house. It's nice, they have a view since they are 300m(etres) up the bluff. They can see Five Mile Creek, which is at least 25km away. Except if it's storming. We can storms here with winds of at least 100kph and that will drop an inch or two of rain. On the mainland, the Fraser river, which is over 2200 km long, can rise 10, 12, even 15 feet in the spring melt. The flow is an astronomical number of cubic feet per minute, and it gotta be moving at a 15-20kph easy. Though sometimes they do quote that figure in cubic metres per minute (264 gallons).

I have both imperial and a metric socket wrench kits. I've assembled BBQs that had both. You can tell which parts came from the US, and which didn't. IKEA is always metric. Lawnmowers are typically Imperial. My camera gear is both. (Tripod sockets are 1/4 or 1/8 inch coarse threads. Lighting stands use metric allen keys, unless they are US made.)

So to my American Cousins. Just switch already and get it over with! Make life easier for every one else in the world, 'kay!?! Eh?

I don't even bother with calculating fuel economy any more. The official measurement is litres/100km, but I still think in MPG, but buy fuel in litres. But I know that our Smart car has an 8 gallon tank.

Mousse
May 3, 2011, 10:00 AM
And people sound less obese when stating their weight in kilograms. ;)

No need for Enzyte. Just switch to centimeters and guys will brag to no end.;)

Huntn
May 3, 2011, 10:26 AM
I can tell you that a lot of stuff manufactured in the US is still using the old units. We Canadians, supposedly metric, get to live with it. We don't make our own paint cans, so we buy a gallon of paint. But... we can't label it as a gallon so it's sold as a 3.79 litre can. Same thing for beer. We buy it in 331ml, or 347ml units (or something like that).

Best of all.... When Environment Canada calls for a -5º day I crank the thermostat up to 69 and think about roasting a 3kg chicken with 1/2lb of potatoes, in an oven set at 375. When I bought the chicken the supermarket had a sale on in the deli. Buy 1/2 lb of sliced roast beef, and get 100gs of potato salad free.

I'll drive 10 km to visit my friend who lives in a 1200sq/ft house. It's nice, they have a view since they are 300m(etres) up the bluff. They can see Five Mile Creek, which is at least 25km away. Except if it's storming. We can storms here with winds of at least 100kph and that will drop an inch or two of rain. On the mainland, the Fraser river, which is over 2200 km long, can rise 10, 12, even 15 feet in the spring melt. The flow is an astronomical number of cubic feet per minute, and it gotta be moving at a 15-20kph easy. Though sometimes they do quote that figure in cubic metres per minute (264 gallons).

I have both imperial and a metric socket wrench kits. I've assembled BBQs that had both. You can tell which parts came from the US, and which didn't. IKEA is always metric. Lawnmowers are typically Imperial. My camera gear is both. (Tripod sockets are 1/4 or 1/8 inch coarse threads. Lighting stands use metric allen keys, unless they are US made.)

So to my American Cousins. Just switch already and get it over with! Make life easier for every one else in the world, 'kay!?! Eh?

I don't even bother with calculating fuel economy any more. The official measurement is litres/100km, but I still think in MPG, but buy fuel in litres. But I know that our Smart car has an 8 gallon tank.

Lord, lol! :D

iJohnHenry
May 3, 2011, 10:26 AM
I like my miles, inches, gallons, and pounds.

I like my inches in centimetres, because it seems longer, and my pounds in stones, because it seems lighter. :p

kalsta
May 3, 2011, 11:27 AM
That's sort of like asking, "aside from saving lives, what makes vaccines so great?" Base-10 is exactly what makes metric superior. Having a system of units based entirely on decimals is extremely powerful. You can convert between units simply by moving a decimal point, express very small/large numbers in scientific notation, and clearly see the greater of two numbers with precision clearly expressed.

For example, which is greater? 5/16 or 7/18

Nicely put. Not only that, but there are some pretty neat relationships between different types of units, where one can be derived from another. For example, one litre of water weighs 1 kg and is contained within a 10 x 10 x 10 cm volume. That makes for some relatively simple mental conversions if you're ever stuck without your iPhone unit-conversion app one day. :)

For a country that prides itself on technological advancement, I find it truly perplexing that the USA can't fully embrace so brilliant a system.

Sure, change is painful… It's a bit like getting into cold water. But the best way is just to jump in and get it over and done with quickly, like Australia did back in the 70s.

Stop dabbling your toes in and fart-arsing around America! Just dive in and join the rest of the world! The water is great once you get used to it.

Tomorrow
May 3, 2011, 12:59 PM
SI is superior in conversions only
Imperial is superior as I actually have a feel for the numbers

It's also easier in calculations - each unit is a derivative of the seven base units, each with a conversion factor of 1.

Yes, let's not change it because YOU actually have a feel for the numbers.

As for having a feel for the numbers, he's not alone. I have nearly 20 years of professional experience using Imperial units as a mechanical engineer, as does every mechanical engineer in the U.S. Switching systems (or, rather, making it mandatory) will require all of these engineers to re-learn the formulae they've known and used for decades. That's the equivalent of millions of man-years of engineering experience down the drain. That isn't progress, no matter how much you might want want to believe it is.

We need to switch to the metric system, what we have now is ****ing crazy when looking at the rest of the world...this is coming from a bio major who has to deal with SI units daily

SI != metric.

I deal with both daily - our electrical system (Watts, Amperes, Volts, Ohms, etc.) are all metric and SI. Using Imperial units doesn't make understanding those SI units any harder.

For the love of your education system, do make the switch! I'm an engineering student from Canada. So I have to learn both imperial and SI. Imperial is such a pain in the ass.

I was an engineering student in the U.S., and I learned to use both systems - and yes, calculations using SI units were simpler. But the reality is that mechanical engineers here do not measure refrigeration in Watts, they use Btuh or tons of refrigeration. We don't use degrees Celsius, we use degrees Fahrenheit. We don't measure airflow in liters per second (which isn't even an SI unit; the proper convention would be cubic meters per second), we use cubic feet per minute. And as such, that's the system I've grown comfortable with as a professional.

Really, most opinions I see in the US to keep the imperial system is because you're not accustomed to it.

Which translates to an incredible cost of switching, and a near-certainty of an avalanche of errors.

...the difference between 37 and 38 degrees Celsius is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, hardly a noticeable difference when it comes to weather forecasts.

You'd make a great point if weather forecasts were all we used temperature measurements for.

For chilled water, a 12 degree (F) temperature differential equates to 2 gpm per ton of refrigeration. Every mechanical engineer knows that. Force him to use SI units, and the game changes completely; calculations that could once be done in your head now require a calculator. You would achieve the opposite effect.

I'm not so sure. If a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons, is it not just as easy to measure out 30ml?

Measuring or counting out two is always easier than measuring or counting out thirty.

Are there really any benefits to the Customary scale, or do we just perceive benefits because it's what we're used to?

I don't know that there are benefits to using customary units; but there are indeed benefits to not switching units. Not the same thing.

Metric is just easier to learn. Period.

That's one opinion. Period.

If it were so damn easy, everyone would know it, now, wouldn't they?

Surely
May 3, 2011, 01:04 PM
I think that it's simply about money. It would just be too expensive to change over to the Metric system in the US at this point.

To change all of the highway signs alone would be a pricey undertaking.

Andeavor
May 3, 2011, 01:54 PM
I think that it's simply about money. It would just be too expensive to change over to the Metric system in the US at this point.
No, it wouldn't. Many non-American institutions do teach the Imperial system on the side, all you have to do it put the focus on the metric system to get a smoother transition. Two generations later, it'll already become familiar.

To change all of the highway signs alone would be a pricey undertaking.
That doesn't put them off for replacing stolen, beat up or vandalized ones on a daily basis, and frankly, the U.S. government should put a lot more effort in subsidizing money for streets and traffic. For a country that emphasizes the use of private and corporate vehicles, you have a piss-poor way of supporting it.

CalBoy
May 3, 2011, 03:39 PM
I see no reason why 99, 99.5, and 100 are easier to track than 37.2, 37.5, and 37.7. As you said, we accept body temp to be 98.6 and 37.0 in Celsius. If decimals are difficult to remember, then clearly we should pick the scale that represents normal body temp as an integer, right? ;)

It doesn't matter what normal body temperature is because that's not what people are looking for when they take a temperature; they're looking for what's not normal. If it can be helped, the number one is seeking should be as flat as possible.

There is a distinctive quality about 100 that is special. It represents an additional place value and is a line of demarcation for most people. For a scientist or professional, the numbers seem the same (each with 3 digits ending in the tenths place), but to the lay user they are very different. The average person doesn't know what significant digits are or when rounding is appropriate. It's far more likely that someone will falsely remember "37.2" as "37" than they will "99" as "98.6." Even if they do make an error and think of 98.6 as 99, it is an error on the side of caution (because presumably they will take their child to the doctor or at least call in).

I realize this makes me seem like I put people in low regard, but the fact is that most things designed for common use are meant to be idiot-proof. Redundancies and warnings are hard to miss in such designs, and on a temperature scale, one that makes 100 "dangerous" is very practical and effective. You have to keep in mind that this scale is going to be used by the illiterate, functionally illiterate, the negligent, the careless, the sloppy, and the hurried.

The importance of additional digits finds its way into many facets of life, including advertising and pricing. It essentially the only reason why everything is sold at intervals of "xx.99" instead of a flat price point. Marketers have long determined that if they were to round up to the nearest whole number, it would make the price seem disproportionately larger. The same "trick" is being used by the Fahrenheit scale; the presence of the additional digit makes people more alarmed at the appropriate time.


Perhaps your set of measuring cups is the additional piece of equipment. Indeed you wouldn't need them. For a recipe in SI, the only items you would need are an electronic balance, graduating measuring "cup," and a graduated cylinder. No series of cups or spoons required (although, they do of course come in metric for those so inclined).

Of course any amateur baker has at least a few cups of both wet and dry so they can keep ingredients separated but measured when they need to be added in a precise order. It just isn't practical to bake with 3 measuring devices and a scale (which, let's be real here, would cost 5 times as much as a set of measuring cups).

This also relies on having recipes with written weights as opposed to volumes. It would also be problematic because you'd make people relearn common measurements for the metric beaker because they couldn't have their cups (ie I know 1 egg is half a cup, so it's easy to put half an egg in a recipe-I would have to do milimeter devision to figure this out for a metric recipe even though there's a perfectly good standard device for it).


It might seem that way to you, but the majority of the world uses weight to measure dry ingredients. For them it's just as easy.

Sure when you have a commercial quantity (which is also how companies bake in bulk-by weight), but not when you're making a dozen muffins or cupcakes. The smaller the quantity, the worse off you are with weighing each ingredient in terms of efficiency.


Why would you need alternative names? A recipe would call for "30ml" of any given liquid. There's no need to call it anything else.

So what would you call 500ml of beer at a bar? Would everyone refer to the spoon at the dinner table as "the 30?" The naming convention isn't going to disappear just because measurements are given in metric. Or are you saying that the naming convention should disappear and numbers used exclusively in their stead?


Well, no one would ask for a 237ml vessel because that's an arbitrary number based on a different system of units. But if you wanted, yes, you could measure that amount in a graduated measuring cup (or weigh it on your balance).

In that case, what would I call 1 cup of a drink? Even if it is made flat at 200, 250, or 300ml, what would be the name? I think by and large it would still be called a cup. In that case you aren't really accomplishing much because people are going to refer to it as they will and the metric quantity wouldn't really do anything because it's not something that people usually divide or multiply by 10 very often in daily life.


I suspect people would call it a "quarter liter," much like I would say "quarter gallon."

No, that would be 1/4 of a liter, not 4 liters. I'm assuming that without gallons, the most closely analogous metric quantity would be 4 liters. What would be the marketing term for this? The shorthand name that would allow people to express a quantity without referring to another number?


And no, you wouldn't call 500ml a "pint" because, well, why would you? :confused:

Well I'm assuming that beer would have to be served in metric quantities, and a pint is known the world over as a beer. You can't really expect the name to go out of use just because the quantity has changed by a factor of about 25ml.


...But countries using SI do call 500ml a demi-liter ("demi" meaning "half").

Somehow I don't see that becoming popular pub lingo...


This is the case with Si units as well. 500, 250, 125, 75, etc. Though SI units can also be divided by any number you wish. Want to make 1/5 of the recipe? ...Just divide all the numbers by five.

Except you can't divide the servings people usually take for themselves very easily by 2, 4, 8, or 16. An eighth of 300ml (a hypothetical metric cup), for example, is a decimal. It's not very probable that if someone was to describe how much cream they added to their coffee they'd describe it as "37.5ml." It's more likely that they'll say "1/4 of x" or "2 of y." This is how the standard system was born; people took everyday quantities (often times as random as fists, feet, and gulps) and over time standardized them.

Every standard unit conforms to a value we are likely to see to this day (a man's foot is still about 12 inches, a tablespoon is about one bite, etc). Granted it's not scientific, but it's not meant to be. It's meant to be practical to describe everyday units, much like "lion" is not the full scientific name for panthera leo. One naming scheme makes sense for one application and another makes sense for a very different application. I whole heartedly agree that for scientific, industrial, and official uses metric is the way to go, but it is not the way to go for lay people. People are not scientists. They should use the measuring schemes that are practical for the things in their lives.

Not that OS X Panthera Leo doesn't have a nice ring to it, of course. ;)


No, but it is onerous for kids to learn SI units, which is a mandatory skill in this global world. Like I said, why teach kids two units of measure if one will suffice?

It's onerous to learn how to multiply and divide by 10 + 3 root words? :confused: Besides, so many things in our daily lives have both unit scales. My ruler has inches and cm and mm. Bathroom scales have pounds and kg. Even measuring cups have ml written on them.

You could be right for international commerce where values have to be recalculated just for the US, but like I said, I think those things should be converted. I don't really care if I buy a 25 gram candy bar as opposed to a 1 ounce candy bar or a 350ml can of soda.


Perhaps true, but just because you switch to metric, doesn't mean you need to stop using tablespoons and teaspoons for measurements. It's all an approximation anyway, since there are far more than 2 different spoon sizes, and many of them look like they're pretty much equal in size to a tablespoon.

I'm sorry, but which tablespoons do you use that aren't tablespoons? The measuring spoons most people have at home for baking are very precise and have the fractions clearly marked on them.

Other than that, there's a teaspoon, tablespoon, and serving spoon (which you wouldn't use as a measurement). The sizes are very different for each of those and I don't think anyone who saw them side by side could confuse them.


So if you're cooking, do what everyone else does with their spoons; if you need a tablespoon, grab the big-ish one and estimate. If you needed more precision than that, why wouldn't you use ml? :confused:

Because it's a heck of a lot easier to think, "I need one xspoon of secret ingredient" than it is to think, "I need xml of secret ingredient." You think like a scientist (because you are one). Most people aren't. That's who the teaspoons and tablespoons are for.

InsanelyApple
May 3, 2011, 04:51 PM
I don't know. I like the current system. The middle part of your pinky finger is about an inch. Your foot is about a foot. From your nose to the tip of your stretched arm is a yard.

The only way I know the metric system is 39 inches in a meter, centimeter is the width of a dime, and a kilometer is half a mile. I need something to help me visualize stuff like body parts. That is why the imperial system was developed.

Plus it is convenient if you don't have a ruler and you need to measure something, get your middle part of your pinky and start measuring. Real handy. :p

InsanelyApple
May 3, 2011, 04:53 PM
I can tell you that a lot of stuff manufactured in the US is still using the old units. We Canadians, supposedly metric, get to live with it. We don't make our own paint cans, so we buy a gallon of paint. But... we can't label it as a gallon so it's sold as a 3.79 litre can. Same thing for beer. We buy it in 331ml, or 347ml units (or something like that).

Best of all.... When Environment Canada calls for a -5º day I crank the thermostat up to 69 and think about roasting a 3kg chicken with 1/2lb of potatoes, in an oven set at 375. When I bought the chicken the supermarket had a sale on in the deli. Buy 1/2 lb of sliced roast beef, and get 100gs of potato salad free.

I'll drive 10 km to visit my friend who lives in a 1200sq/ft house. It's nice, they have a view since they are 300m(etres) up the bluff. They can see Five Mile Creek, which is at least 25km away. Except if it's storming. We can storms here with winds of at least 100kph and that will drop an inch or two of rain. On the mainland, the Fraser river, which is over 2200 km long, can rise 10, 12, even 15 feet in the spring melt. The flow is an astronomical number of cubic feet per minute, and it gotta be moving at a 15-20kph easy. Though sometimes they do quote that figure in cubic metres per minute (264 gallons).

I have both imperial and a metric socket wrench kits. I've assembled BBQs that had both. You can tell which parts came from the US, and which didn't. IKEA is always metric. Lawnmowers are typically Imperial. My camera gear is both. (Tripod sockets are 1/4 or 1/8 inch coarse threads. Lighting stands use metric allen keys, unless they are US made.)

So to my American Cousins. Just switch already and get it over with! Make life easier for every one else in the world, 'kay!?! Eh?

I don't even bother with calculating fuel economy any more. The official measurement is litres/100km, but I still think in MPG, but buy fuel in litres. But I know that our Smart car has an 8 gallon tank.

Feel sorry for you, bud. XD

MacNut
May 3, 2011, 06:13 PM
Our highway exits are distanced usually by a mile. Changing the system would really mess that up unless we reconstruct all the exit ramps.

kalsta
May 3, 2011, 06:17 PM
As for having a feel for the numbers, he's not alone. I have nearly 20 years of professional experience using Imperial units as a mechanical engineer, as does every mechanical engineer in the U.S. Switching systems (or, rather, making it mandatory) will require all of these engineers to re-learn the formulae they've known and used for decades. That's the equivalent of millions of man-years of engineering experience down the drain. That isn't progress, no matter how much you might want want to believe it is.

:confused: Not progress because you'd have to relearn something? Mate, what progress would ever have been made if people always held to that argument? In the 80's/90's there were probably more than a few people in the design/publishing industry saying, 'Sorry, can't switch to Macs… Got 20 years experience rubbing Letraset down and maintaining my bromide machine.'

Hastings101
May 3, 2011, 06:20 PM
I remember in elementary school, learning about the metric system since we were all going to switch to it. That never happened. I wonder why....

Too hard for some people to learn and there's already a system that works just as well in place.

kalsta
May 3, 2011, 06:55 PM
Our highway exits are distanced usually by a mile. Changing the system would really mess that up unless we reconstruct all the exit ramps.

This argument is just too funny. Right, people are going to suddenly start missing exits they've always taken once the metric system comes in. Oh, and all the old houses that were built to Imperial measurements will have to be torn down and rebuilt.

Guys, to anyone living in a country that's already made the switch, your arguments really do sound very Chicken Little. The switch won't be cheap or easy in the short term, but one thinks it's inevitable eventually. Why keep putting it off onto the next generation? Your kids WILL thank you if you switch today.

MacNut
May 3, 2011, 06:57 PM
I don't see us ever switching.

balamw
May 3, 2011, 07:12 PM
So what would you call 500ml of beer at a bar?

Somehow I don't see that becoming popular pub lingo...


Growing up in a metric country (French speaking Switzerland) it was a canette, and Wikipedia reveals a veritable plethora of other colloquial terms in French depending on your location.

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verre_à_bière

Including: Demi, Pinte, Distingué, Véritable, Baron, Mini-chevalier, Chope, Sérieux, Canette, ... (the bold one should look somewhat familiar ;) )

It's just like I said earlier about the pound. In everyday use there's not much difference between a 454 g pound and a 500 g "pound".

B

Tomorrow
May 3, 2011, 08:03 PM
:confused: Not progress because you'd have to relearn something?

You missed my point; it isn't progress because it's an enormous step backward. It's not the "learning something new" part, it's the "throwing away everything you already know."

Mate, what progress would ever have been made if people always held to that argument? In the 80's/90's there were probably more than a few people in the design/publishing industry saying, 'Sorry, can't switch to Macs… Got 20 years experience rubbing Letraset down and maintaining my bromide machine.'

I would see your point if switching everything to metric would actually make things more efficient, but it wouldn't. People who use Imperial units are already comfortable with it - the system already works, and isn't broken.

kalsta
May 3, 2011, 08:08 PM
Adopting the metric system doesn't mean other more informal units of measurement will disappear from popular usage. In Australia you order a schooner or middy of beer. In some pubs it's a pint. Teaspoons won't suddenly disappear from your kitchen or your recipes. Fear not.

kalsta
May 3, 2011, 08:57 PM
You missed my point; it isn't progress because it's an enormous step backward. It's not the "learning something new" part, it's the "throwing away everything you already know."

Semantics. Your argument boils down to the pain of change.

I would see your point if switching everything to metric would actually make things more efficient, but it wouldn't. People who use Imperial units are already comfortable with it - the system already works, and isn't broken.

Again, the real crux of your argument is that people are 'comfortable' with what they already know. If you were to put that aside and judge between the two systems objectively, I can't see how anyone would actually choose imperial over metric. Metric is the future. No, check that — it's actually the present. You're living in the past Tomorrow.

Tomorrow
May 3, 2011, 09:02 PM
Semantics. Your argument boils down to the pain of change.

The cost of change. There's a difference.

Again, the real crux of your argument is that people are 'comfortable' with what they already know.

No, once again, it's not about comfort; it's about experience. I learned mostly SI units when I was in college, I'm quite comfortable with using those units - but the industry doesn't use those units. I learned, and became an expert in, the units used by the industry. You would ask millions of engineers, technicians, etc. to throw away years or even decades of experience simply to change a system that isn't broken.

Yes, it's a system that has its roots in the past, but the system still works. There's no compelling reason to change it. There's no efficiency to be gained.

CalBoy
May 3, 2011, 09:14 PM
Semantics. Your argument boils down to the pain of change.

Again, the real crux of your argument is that people are 'comfortable' with what they already know. If you were to put that aside and judge between the two systems objectively, I can't see how anyone would actually choose imperial over metric. Metric is the future. No, check that — it's actually the present. You're living in the past Tomorrow.

This reminds me of the Dvorack keyboard layout vs the familiar QWERTY.

The Dvorack is objectively superior because it allows for higher wpm speeds than QWERTY. At the time of keyboard construction, however, Dvorack was prone to a lot more jamming by typists who were too fast for the physical limitations of the machine. Obviously that isn't a problem in the digital era, so logically we should switch to Dvorack if were had the option of starting from the beginning.

But, we're not starting from the beginning, are we? At this point switching to a new keyboard layout would be a huge undertaking for perhaps minimal gain.

The same applies to the metric system. At best it can offer minimal gains for the average person (something which, as I have pointed out above, may not be true in all cases) while costing a great deal. Even in the best of times, I think it would foolish to squander billions over such a petty thing when companies are free to shift production to be maximally efficient for themselves. If a company will make more money (or save it) using metric, then it will. There's no need to mandate it across every facet of life.

I mean, it's not as if we prevent companies from selling goods in metric quantities; if that was the case, then you'd have a good point.

SuperCachetes
May 3, 2011, 09:28 PM
Yes, it's a system that has its roots in the past, but the system still works. There's no compelling reason to change it. There's no efficiency to be gained.

I don't buy that for a second. As someone who works in the construction industry and has to deal with fractions of inches and materials that are odd nominal dimensions and even odder actual dimensions, I can tell you that there is a ****-ton of efficiency to be gained by getting away from bricks that are 3-5/8" deep, interior sheetrock walls that are 4-7/8" thick, and ceiling grids that are 15/16" wide.

Can a guy who's been working construction for 30 years add this stuff up in his head? Sure. But all along the way - from the architect, to the contractor, to the fabricator, to the installer - there is a chance for miscalculation because of our goofy system of measurement, and the savings from going to SI would be both in time spent designing and time spent correcting errors in the field.

Yes, there is a cost, both monetary and emotional - but we need to just rip the bandage off, already. "It's what I'm used to" is a tired excuse.

kalsta
May 3, 2011, 09:41 PM
No, once again, it's not about comfort; it's about experience. I learned mostly SI units when I was in college, I'm quite comfortable with using those units - but the industry doesn't use those units. I learned, and became an expert in, the units used by the industry. You would ask millions of engineers, technicians, etc. to throw away years or even decades of experience simply to change a system that isn't broken.

Yes, it's a system that has its roots in the past, but the system still works. There's no compelling reason to change it. There's no efficiency to be gained.

When the Mac first came out, with it's GUI and mouse, it wasn't a runaway success, although to those in the know it was vastly superior to PCs running DOS. The arguments for staying with DOS were no doubt similar to yours… 'I spent years becoming an expert in DOS. I am comfortable with it. It works just fine. There is no need to change. Besides, it would be too costly to change.'

When you say there is 'no compelling reason to change', you're ignoring all the point already made. Base-10. Derived units. Consistent prefixes. This makes for much simpler calculations and formula in practice. It might be harder for an old fella like you to have to relearn things, but for the next generation of children learning from scratch, the metric system simplifies things so much. Not only that, but the USA is increasingly out of step with the rest of the world in this regard. So not only is this generation of Americans making it more difficult for future generations of Americans, but it's really complicating things for everyone in this age of global communication.

Okay, imagine for a moment that one of the US states wasn't using the decimal system for counting. Instead, they had a system where letters were used to designate certain amounts, similar to Roman numerals, but instead of having a base of 10, it varied. So perhaps A is equal to 12. Then three As is equal to B. Two Bs is equal to C. 22 Bs is equal to a D, and so on with this kind of inconsistency. You have a friend living in this state who claims that the system works just fine — he spent many years studying this system and even more using it in his line of work and can't see why he or anyone else in the state should have to learn this dangfangled decimal system. What would you say to your friend?

EricNau
May 3, 2011, 09:48 PM
I don't have the time to write an exhaustive response to this magnum opus, but I'm going to leave with a few concluding points:
It doesn't matter what normal body temperature is because that's not what people are looking for when they take a temperature; they're looking for what's not normal. If it can be helped, the number one is seeking should be as flat as possible.

There is a distinctive quality about 100 that is special. It represents an additional place value and is a line of demarcation for most people. For a scientist or professional, the numbers seem the same (each with 3 digits ending in the tenths place), but to the lay user they are very different. The average person doesn't know what significant digits are or when rounding is appropriate. It's far more likely that someone will falsely remember "37.2" as "37" than they will "99" as "98.6." Even if they do make an error and think of 98.6 as 99, it is an error on the side of caution (because presumably they will take their child to the doctor or at least call in).

I realize this makes me seem like I put people in low regard, but the fact is that most things designed for common use are meant to be idiot-proof. Redundancies and warnings are hard to miss in such designs, and on a temperature scale, one that makes 100 "dangerous" is very practical and effective. You have to keep in mind that this scale is going to be used by the illiterate, functionally illiterate, the negligent, the careless, the sloppy, and the hurried.

The importance of additional digits finds its way into many facets of life, including advertising and pricing. It essentially the only reason why everything is sold at intervals of "xx.99" instead of a flat price point. Marketers have long determined that if they were to round up to the nearest whole number, it would make the price seem disproportionately larger. The same "trick" is being used by the Fahrenheit scale; the presence of the additional digit makes people more alarmed at the appropriate time.
I believe the discussion of body temperature has reached a senseless level. I disagree with your claim that body temperatures in celsius are more difficult to remember, and I don't believe there's any substatial evidence to support this claim. Regardless, Celsius seems to work just fine for the entire world (...practically), unless you know something about European mothers that I don't.

Of course any amateur baker has at least a few cups of both wet and dry so they can keep ingredients separated but measured when they need to be added in a precise order. It just isn't practical to bake with 3 measuring devices and a scale (which, let's be real here, would cost 5 times as much as a set of measuring cups).
I see no reason why baking with a scale is impractical. It's not what you're used to, but that doesn't reflect upon the merits of a metric system.

This also relies on having recipes with written weights as opposed to volumes. It would also be problematic because you'd make people relearn common measurements for the metric beaker because they couldn't have their cups (ie I know 1 egg is half a cup, so it's easy to put half an egg in a recipe-I would have to do milimeter devision to figure this out for a metric recipe even though there's a perfectly good standard device for it).
Written weights are more accurate. What's problematic is that there's an additional requirement for measuring volumes of dry goods. Flour must be measured after sifting, brown sugar must be packed, etc. Not only does weighing dry goods eliminate the need to standardization of volume, but it's always going to be more accurate.

So what would you call 500ml of beer at a bar? Would everyone refer to the spoon at the dinner table as "the 30?" The naming convention isn't going to disappear just because measurements are given in metric. Or are you saying that the naming convention should disappear and numbers used exclusively in their stead?
As balmaw explained, it doesn't really matter what you call a pint of beer at a bar. Every culture and language has their own name for it.

In that case, what would I call 1 cup of a drink? Even if it is made flat at 200, 250, or 300ml, what would be the name? I think by and large it would still be called a cup. In that case you aren't really accomplishing much because people are going to refer to it as they will and the metric quantity wouldn't really do anything because it's not something that people usually divide or multiply by 10 very often in daily life.
If you ask for a "cup of water" at a restaurant, will you be given exactly 8oz? I don't think so.

Most cups hold more than a cup. So, in the absence of a measuring cup, there's really no need for such a designation. So, assuming we do away with the customary system, why do you need a word to describe 8oz of water? You would stop thinking in cups and start thinking in quarter liter intervals (which is equally, if not more, convenient).

No, that would be 1/4 of a liter, not 4 liters. I'm assuming that without gallons, the most closely analogous metric quantity would be 4 liters. What would be the marketing term for this? The shorthand name that would allow people to express a quantity without referring to another number?
I believe milk in Germany is bought by the liter, though I'm sure European members here could elaborate on that.

You might find purchasing milk by the liter cumbersome, but it works well for them.

Well I'm assuming that beer would have to be served in metric quantities, and a pint is known the world over as a beer. You can't really expect the name to go out of use just because the quantity has changed by a factor of about 25ml.
Beer is served in metric quantities all over the world. ...And there are plenty of names for it that aren't "pint." Additionally, I assure you that an American pint of beer is served with less precision than 25ml from bar to bar.

Except you can't divide the servings people usually take for themselves very easily by 2, 4, 8, or 16. An eighth of 300ml (a hypothetical metric cup), for example, is a decimal. It's not very probable that if someone was to describe how much cream they added to their coffee they'd describe it as "37.5ml." It's more likely that they'll say "1/4 of x" or "2 of y." This is how the standard system was born; people took everyday quantities (often times as random as fists, feet, and gulps) and over time standardized them.
And metric units, too, are used the world over to describe household amounts.

Also, dividing 300ml (though, I find it interesting that you keep choosing to compare metric units to customary units, since this is counter-productive) can easily be rounded to 38 or even 40ml, which is precise enough even for baking.

Though it's entirely a moot point. Metric recipes are normalized to "easy" measurements, just like American recipes are normalized to the nearest cup or 1/2 for items like flour and sugar.

Every standard unit conforms to a value we are likely to see to this day (a man's foot is still about 12 inches, a tablespoon is about one bite, etc). Granted it's not scientific, but it's not meant to be. It's meant to be practical to describe everyday units, much like "lion" is not the full scientific name for panthera leo. One naming scheme makes sense for one application and another makes sense for a very different application. I whole heartedly agree that for scientific, industrial, and official uses metric is the way to go, but it is not the way to go for lay people. People are not scientists. They should use the measuring schemes that are practical for the things in their lives.
I don't find the customary system practical. To the contrary, I find it convoluted with no consistency.

It's onerous to learn how to multiply and divide by 10 + 3 root words? :confused: Besides, so many things in our daily lives have both unit scales. My ruler has inches and cm and mm. Bathroom scales have pounds and kg. Even measuring cups have ml written on them.
I've witnessed many students struggle with it. When you grow up using Fahrenheit, feet, miles, inches, cups, teaspoons, etc. you get a sense of what each one means; you can "feel" it. The same can't be said about the metric system for most Americans, and it's extremely difficult to teach yourself what each unit intuitively represents as a high school student, for example.

It's something many of us will never get. Kilometers, Celsius, liters, centimeters, etc. will always "feel" foreign because of the units we were raised with at home. We owe our kids better.

kalsta
May 3, 2011, 10:01 PM
This reminds me of the Dvorack keyboard layout vs the familiar QWERTY.

The Dvorack is objectively superior because it allows for higher wpm speeds than QWERTY. At the time of keyboard construction, however, Dvorack was prone to a lot more jamming by typists who were too fast for the physical limitations of the machine. Obviously that isn't a problem in the digital era, so logically we should switch to Dvorack if were had the option of starting from the beginning.

But, we're not starting from the beginning, are we? At this point switching to a new keyboard layout would be a huge undertaking for perhaps minimal gain.

The advantage you're talking about here is one of degrees. One may be slightly faster than the other, but it's not a revolutionary shift to a better system. I would compare this sort of change to a small upgrade in processing power. The advantages of the metric system over imperial run much deeper than that, so it's a poor analogy.

CalBoy
May 3, 2011, 10:23 PM
The advantage you're talking about here is one of degrees. One may be slightly faster than the other, but it's not a revolutionary shift to a better system. I would compare this sort of change to a small upgrade in processing power. The advantages of the metric system over imperial run much deeper than that, so it's a poor analogy.

Can you cite reliable figures for the cost advantage versus the cost to switch?

snberk103
May 3, 2011, 10:52 PM
Lord, lol! :D

Feel sorry for you, bud. XD

One more Canadianism.... The Globe and Mail today was reporting on the Bin Laden raid. Apparently his balcony had a wall 2.2 metres high, just enough to conceal a man 6 ft 4 inch. You can't make this stuff up. Most Canadians just make the conversion and move on.:D

kalsta
May 3, 2011, 10:54 PM
Can you cite reliable figures for the cost advantage versus the cost to switch?

Nope. Ask me what the cost advantage of wearing my Adidas runners over a pair of wooden clogs is when I go out. I couldn't tell you. But I can appreciate the obvious benefits of the metric system in theory and in practice without making it all about short-term financial gain, and I think you could too if you took the time to look at it objectively. I am just thankful my country made the difficult decision back in the 70s when my biggest challenge was learning to wee in the potty.

As another commenter said, you owe your kids better.

CalBoy
May 3, 2011, 11:17 PM
Nope. Ask me what the cost advantage of wearing my Adidas runners over a pair of wooden clogs is when I go out. I couldn't tell you. But I can appreciate the obvious benefits of the metric system in theory and in practice without making it all about short-term financial gain, and I think you could too if you took the time to look at it objectively. I am just thankful my country made the difficult decision back in the 70s when my biggest challenge was learning to wee in the potty.

So then you can't speak to whether or not it would actually be cost effective for the country to switch.


As another commenter said, you owe your kids better.

I'm not convinced that my kids are any worse off. I grew up speaking two languages (hearing three) and using different types of measurements. I have confidence in my future children to be able to handle it like generations of Americans have before.

kalsta
May 4, 2011, 12:10 AM
I'm not convinced that my kids are any worse off. I grew up speaking two languages (hearing three) and using different types of measurements. I have confidence in my future children to be able to handle it like generations of Americans have before.

A child's mind is amazingly attuned to learning language. Given the fascinating cultural and linguistic diversity in the world, I am envious. I would love to have learnt more than one language as a kid. It's so much harder to learn as an adult.

But I am not at all envious of you having to learn two systems of measurement. That kind of cultural diversity I can do without! Sure, your kids will be able to handle it, but why should they have to? Because your generation was too stuck in its ways to embrace positive change?

snberk103
May 4, 2011, 10:33 AM
So then you can't speak to whether or not it would actually be cost effective for the country to switch.

....

Switching to metric is short-term pain for long-term gain. Older people will need have both measures used for a few years. Some Engineers etc will need to hit the books again (but let's face it - if they can learn the formula's once, they can look up the "translation". It's not like they forget how the principles work).

The long-term advantages are:
1) Less freaking-out of kids who are weak in math. "If you have a stick that is 3' 7 13/16" and need to divide it into 3 equal sections, what is the length of the each section to the nearest 1/64 inch?" as opposed to "If you have a stick that 1233 mm long....." - and no, I didn't check to see if they are the same -
2) Same idea as above.... "If you have a tank filled with 450 cubic yards of water, and it is flowing out at a rate of 3 gallons a minute, how long does it take to empty?" as opposed to the metric system where 1000 litres of water is 1 cubic meter which is 1 tonne (approximately - since altitudes and temperatures affect the density of water).... but it's close enough for horseshoes....
3) Manufacturing. As the last industrialized country in the world still non-metric, do people really believe that there isn't a cost when a US factory has to retool to provide a product for export? Or understand that the cost of goods being imported from off-shore includes the cost of retooling for an non-metric customer? Do people not think that some small factories in the US have lost contracts to off-shore customers because they couldn't afford to switch to a metric size? And that some US factories have probably been forced to retool anyway when the sole supplier of a component wouldn't make a special run of non-metric fasteners?

Just asking. The days when the USA was top of the heap in manufacturing are past. The USA is now competing head to head with the rest of the world that has left behind bolts that are 3/16 diameter and 1 7/8 long and 12tpi.

Tomorrow
May 4, 2011, 02:50 PM
"If you have a stick that is 3' 7 13/16" and need to divide it into 3 equal sections, what is the length of the each section to the nearest 1/64 inch?" as opposed to "If you have a stick that 1233 mm long....." - and no, I didn't check to see if they are the same -

I'd use a calculator in either example, so it's a moot point.

2) Same idea as above.... "If you have a tank filled with 450 cubic yards of water, and it is flowing out at a rate of 3 gallons a minute, how long does it take to empty?" as opposed to the metric system where 1000 litres of water is 1 cubic meter which is 1 tonne (approximately - since altitudes and temperatures affect the density of water).... but it's close enough for horseshoes....

I've never seen a tank meant for holding liquid that wasn't rated in gallons - and I'm talking about up to 5 million gallons. But still, I'd be using a calculator in either event. But to illustrate my earlier point, 1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet, 1 cubic foot = 7.48 gallons. Simple math.

InsanelyApple
May 4, 2011, 04:28 PM
2) Same idea as above.... "If you have a tank filled with 450 cubic yards of water, and it is flowing out at a rate of 3 gallons a minute, how long does it take to empty?"

But to illustrate my earlier point, 1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet, 1 cubic foot = 7.48 gallons. Simple math.

Seriously snberk103. Let us Americans use what we want. We find the imperial easier than the scientific metric. Tomorrow put up a good point, we can use conversion factors too. ;)

rdowns
May 4, 2011, 04:43 PM
You metric people ought to hook up with the military time people.

McGiord
May 4, 2011, 05:09 PM
You metric people ought to hook up with the military time people.

It is the international system, and it does adopt the metric units, and yes the military time is less confusing also.

dukebound85
May 4, 2011, 05:22 PM
It is the international system, and it does adopt the metric units, and yes the military time is less confusing also.

Not if you are not use to it

I can register 7pm alot faster than 1900

snberk103
May 4, 2011, 05:33 PM
"If you have a stick that is 3' 7 13/16" and need to divide it into 3 equal sections, ... -I'd use a calculator in either example, so it's a moot point.
So what is a third of 13/16th of an inch? :)


I've never seen a tank meant for holding liquid that wasn't rated in gallons - and I'm talking about up to 5 million gallons. But still, I'd be using a calculator in either event. But to illustrate my earlier point, 1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet, 1 cubic foot = 7.48 gallons. Simple math.
See attached image.... more flow stuff than storage stuff, but it makes the head boggle. And yes, of course you'd use a calculator to be sure - but if you could approximate it in your head, at least you'd have a sense of whether you were correct or not.
Seriously snberk103. Let us Americans use what we want. We find the imperial easier than the scientific metric.

'scuze moi!

Tomorrow put up a good point, we can use conversion factors too. ;)

This may be a reason why American kids are falling behind in global math competencies. It would be interesting to track which countries surged on math competencies, and when they switched to metric.

So, as a citizen of a country that competes with the USA in manufacturing.... please keep on being the only industrialized country that hasn't switched. Or at least has only partially switched since many exporting companies have switched. :D

CalBoy
May 4, 2011, 07:01 PM
So what is a third of 13/16th of an inch? :)

Easy. 13/48ths of an inch.;)

A child's mind is amazingly attuned to learning language. Given the fascinating cultural and linguistic diversity in the world, I am envious. I would love to have learnt more than one language as a kid. It's so much harder to learn as an adult.

But I am not at all envious of you having to learn two systems of measurement. That kind of cultural diversity I can do without! Sure, your kids will be able to handle it, but why should they have to? Because your generation was too stuck in its ways to embrace positive change?

I really don't see much functional difference between a language and a system of measures. Both express specificity using prearranged syntax and values.

The one point you may have is that most households don't teach both to their kids because most households only use one or the other.

Even beyond that, if we were to adopt the metric system 100% starting tomorrow, the transition would have to last for decades not only to encompass those who are too old to be educated, but also to deal with the infrastructure changes that would have to take place. At the very earliest it would be my grandchildren who would see a fully metricized US.


The long-term advantages are:
1) Less freaking-out of kids who are weak in math. "If you have a stick that is 3' 7 13/16" and need to divide it into 3 equal sections, what is the length of the each section to the nearest 1/64 inch?" as opposed to "If you have a stick that 1233 mm long....." - and no, I didn't check to see if they are the same -

2) Same idea as above.... "If you have a tank filled with 450 cubic yards of water, and it is flowing out at a rate of 3 gallons a minute, how long does it take to empty?" as opposed to the metric system where 1000 litres of water is 1 cubic meter which is 1 tonne (approximately - since altitudes and temperatures affect the density of water).... but it's close enough for horseshoes....

This isn't an economic gain. It's a purely convenience gain for kids who probably should do some "difficult" math so they can get a strong grasp of the basics. They can use calculators and apps when they need to use their skills for larger applications.


3) Manufacturing. As the last industrialized country in the world still non-metric, do people really believe that there isn't a cost when a US factory has to retool to provide a product for export? Or understand that the cost of goods being imported from off-shore includes the cost of retooling for an non-metric customer? Do people not think that some small factories in the US have lost contracts to off-shore customers because they couldn't afford to switch to a metric size? And that some US factories have probably been forced to retool anyway when the sole supplier of a component wouldn't make a special run of non-metric fasteners?

And I don't dispute this element of the argument. Many manufacturers have already done this (why just yesterday I purchased cereal and chips in metric quantities), and they should keep switching to improve their bottom line.

Ca$hflow
May 4, 2011, 07:11 PM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8B117 Safari/6531.22.7)

Actually 3 bags containing 4 liters.

flopticalcube
May 4, 2011, 11:20 PM
You metric people ought to hook up with the military time people.

Odd you should say that as the US military is an early adopter of things metric, at least by US standards. (there's a pun in there)

SuperCachetes
May 5, 2011, 05:26 AM
Can you cite reliable figures for the cost advantage versus the cost to switch?

Sorry it took so long to respond to this; I assure you it took only a second to Google (this is just the first result I found):

http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/pays-off.html

xUKHCx
May 5, 2011, 06:10 AM
The only imperial we use legally are on the roads, Miles and by motorway exits are in yards!!!


Basically they need to switch the road system to Km's instead of stupid Miles.

It is happening, these signs are metric rather than imperial.

http://www.highways.gov.uk/business/images/Driver_Location_Sign_138.jpg

So when have the odd situation of having both metric and imperial on the motorways. For those not from the UK these are location markers (http://www.highways.gov.uk/business/14730.aspx) so you can tell the emergency services your location.

While they aren't really for general public use it does help people get used to how far a kilometer is and will ultimately add the transition.

iStudentUK
May 5, 2011, 06:18 AM
It is happening, these signs are metric rather than imperial.

While they aren't really for general public use it does help people get used to how far a kilometer is and will ultimately add the transition.

That is interesting, never knew that. I don't think the problem with converting road signs is so much money, but logistics. If they are all changed very quickly that needs a huge workforce, if it is staged over time it could be confusing. I'd like to see it happen in the next few years, the imperial system needs to die out.

kalsta
May 5, 2011, 08:45 AM
Easy. 13/48ths of an inch.;)

Is that wink a small admission of how silly your system really is? :) Sure, the math was simple, but how meaningful are all these crazy fractions? If I actually had to try and picture what these fractions represent, I'd want to convert the denominator into a multiple of 10 first in order to try and picture it. I might note that twice 48 is roughly 100, so I know we're dealing with a bit over 26%. Other fractions could prove more difficult. With the metric system, you never have to do this. You're always dealing with base-10, which is something we all understand and can picture, without having to memorise particular fractions and what they represent.

I really don't see much functional difference between a language and a system of measures. Both express specificity using prearranged syntax and values.

Well, we could certainly argue that international communication would be a LOT simpler if there was only one language — and it would be! However, the reality is, we have a world with not only a diversity of language, but a diversity of culture, and the two are intricately linked. That makes the world a very interesting place, and being able to speak multiple languages would be a wonderful skill to have when travelling and engaging in other cultures. People are generally proud of their heritage, culture and language, and there aren't too many people suggesting the world should lose all of that richness in the interest of conformity. (Well, there are such people, but I think we can agree they're generally pretty scary.)

How many people are so nostalgic about the imperial system? With language, one communicates deep philosophical thoughts, writes beautiful poetry, tells a woman of his undying love. With a system of measurement, one… well, measures stuff. Most of the world has seen the benefits of a better system and they've moved on without regret. What is different about the US that it can't do likewise? I honestly find it perplexing. Be honest now… Is it because the French invented it?

Even beyond that, if we were to adopt the metric system 100% starting tomorrow, the transition would have to last for decades not only to encompass those who are too old to be educated, but also to deal with the infrastructure changes that would have to take place. At the very earliest it would be my grandchildren who would see a fully metricized US.

You're not stepping out onto the moon this time. Just about every other country on the planet (and there are quite a few of them!) have gone before you, and it worked out just fine. Sure, it takes some time, but not as long as you might like to imagine. Let me come back to my own experience… I was born in the 70s, around the time Australia was just starting to transition to the metric system. The older folk may well have had a difficult time with it, but if so I was blissfully unaware of it. I came to learn what an inch was, since most rulers had inches on one side and mm/cm on the other, and people still, to this day, casually talk about their height in feet and the weight of newborn babies in pounds. (Yes, some old habits die hard.) But these sort of things are the exceptions. The transition to metric was so efficient, I, as a first generation growing up with it, didn't even notice there was a transition happening.

Seriously, you should be looking to Australia and other countries with successful transitions and learning from them, instead of just perpetuating all these fanciful stories of how terrible it's going to be to change.

kalsta
May 5, 2011, 09:01 AM
"If you have a stick that is 3' 7 13/16" and need to divide it into 3 equal sections, what is the length of the each section to the nearest 1/64 inch?" as opposed to "If you have a stick that 1233 mm long....." - and no, I didn't check to see if they are the same

I'd use a calculator in either example, so it's a moot point.

Out of interest, how would you enter (3' 7 13/16") / 3 into a standard calculator? That would be a nightmare I would think, and quite prone to errors. 1233 / 3 is pretty easy!

Tomorrow
May 5, 2011, 09:27 AM
Sure, the math was simple, but how meaningful are all these crazy fractions?

About as meaningful as the need to figure out one third of 13/16.

Out of interest, how would you enter (3' 7 13/16") / 3 into a standard calculator?

Keystroke for keystroke, just the way you did it, except substitute the fraction symbol for the apostrophe and quote symbols you used for feet and inches. I own several calculators, and they'll all do this.

snberk103
May 5, 2011, 10:34 AM
About as meaningful as the need to figure out one third of 13/16.

How about a quarter of 3" 13/16? Which I regularly need to do when cutting photo matts? Yes - I would round the 13/16 down to 12/16, no wait that's really 3/4. Except that for my equipment it's better to round up. And rounding it to 14/16 is not really better. And 16/16 introduces too big an error. Now I suggest to photographers they buy European made matt cutters - for the measurement scale.


Keystroke for keystroke, just the way you did it, except substitute the fraction symbol for the apostrophe and quote symbols you used for feet and inches. I own several calculators, and they'll all do this.

So you'd enter " 3/ 7 13/16// " Seriously, I'm not trying to be funny here.

We own a couple of basic calculators, and of course there's Google's search bar calculator. Google is actually pretty good, but I think I would need to decimalize the fraction first....

Now I am trying to be funny. When I typed "(3ft 7in)/3" into Google to see what happens, I got "(3 ft 7 in) / 3 = 36.4066667 centimeters". Even Google is metric! I tried it with the fractional inch too, but Google wouldn't calculate that. Apparently Google also doesn't like fractions of an inch.

dukebound85
May 5, 2011, 11:51 AM
Sorry it took so long to respond to this; I assure you it took only a second to Google (this is just the first result I found):

http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/pays-off.html

quoting links from my school eh? lol

CalBoy
May 5, 2011, 02:27 PM
Sorry it took so long to respond to this; I assure you it took only a second to Google (this is just the first result I found):

http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/pays-off.html

All of that is about the private sector switching to save money on their bottom line, something which I already mentioned should happen (and will without intervention).

The question is if the government mandated the metric system for EVERYTHING, from speed limits on the roads to the measurements on a box of Betty Crocker brownies. Many of these things won't actually lead to any increased economic efficiency because certain products can only be produced locally (say weather reports) and consumed locally. The cost of these industries switching would be quite expensive with no real economic gain because the products and services can't be exported or imported.

Is that wink a small admission of how silly your system really is? :) Sure, the math was simple, but how meaningful are all these crazy fractions? If I actually had to try and picture what these fractions represent, I'd want to convert the denominator into a multiple of 10 first in order to try and picture it. I might note that twice 48 is roughly 100, so I know we're dealing with a bit over 26%. Other fractions could prove more difficult. With the metric system, you never have to do this. You're always dealing with base-10, which is something we all understand and can picture, without having to memorise particular fractions and what they represent.

No the wink was just to say that 1) I would use a calculator, and 2) even if I couldn't, multiplying fractions is not hard at all.


Well, we could certainly argue that international communication would be a LOT simpler if there was only one language — and it would be! However, the reality is, we have a world with not only a diversity of language, but a diversity of culture, and the two are intricately linked. That makes the world a very interesting place, and being able to speak multiple languages would be a wonderful skill to have when travelling and engaging in other cultures. People are generally proud of their heritage, culture and language, and there aren't too many people suggesting the world should lose all of that richness in the interest of conformity. (Well, there are such people, but I think we can agree they're generally pretty scary.)

This is off topic, but language is but one part of culture. Customs, celebrations, and even measures, are all marks of a culture. In the process of colonization and free trade, we've actively destroyed many languages, customs, celebrations, and measures. I think we typically don't consider the loss of a measurement system to be too catastrophic because of the many conveniences that can be had from uniformity. But the same is true for language as well. I think the real reason we tend to gloss over measures is because they are typically easier to learn than a new language. Anthropologically speaking, however, they are very valuable in exploring a culture.

What is different about the US that it can't do likewise? I honestly find it perplexing. Be honest now… Is it because the French invented it?

Ultimately I think it comes down to the fact that the US is one of the few countries that had a great deal of popular sovereignty determine the outcome of whether or not we should switch to the metric system. Most other countries enacted policy through a quiet parliamentary action that was later carried out by agencies or at a time when most people weren't active in politics. Still others had theirs done at the point of a gun.

In the US there are a lot of veto points in the legislative process, making any significant change hard to do. Americans also tend not to have a great deal of respect for the sciences (scientific literacy is appallingly low) so it makes it a tougher pitch to the everyday person. Then there's also the issue that to most it's a solution for a problem that doesn't exist; why should they care about a measurement system when the one they are using right now is working for them?


You're not stepping out onto the moon this time. Just about every other country on the planet (and there are quite a few of them!) have gone before you, and it worked out just fine. Sure, it takes some time, but not as long as you might like to imagine. Let me come back to my own experience… I was born in the 70s, around the time Australia was just starting to transition to the metric system. The older folk may well have had a difficult time with it, but if so I was blissfully unaware of it. I came to learn what an inch was, since most rulers had inches on one side and mm/cm on the other, and people still, to this day, casually talk about their height in feet and the weight of newborn babies in pounds. (Yes, some old habits die hard.) But these sort of things are the exceptions. The transition to metric was so efficient, I, as a first generation growing up with it, didn't even notice there was a transition happening.

Seriously, you should be looking to Australia and other countries with successful transitions and learning from them, instead of just perpetuating all these fanciful stories of how terrible it's going to be to change.

The issue goes beyond just the prescribed time period to shift, however. As I mentioned above, there are a lot of infrastructure concerns. Not to mention that Australia in the 1970s was 13 million people, or about 24 times smaller than the current US population. The only other countries that were on this scale were India and China when they transitioned, and both had much less infrastructure and an already illiterate population that could be trained from the ground up.

Any realistic transition for the US would take decades.

kalsta
May 5, 2011, 03:22 PM
You're not stepping out onto the moon this time.

Talking about the cost of swtiching, I might just add… Stepping out onto the moon cost a pretty penny too. I guess beating the Soviets to bragging rights in space was more important than implementing common sense on the ground.

Ultimately I think it comes down to the fact that the US is one of the few countries that had a great deal of popular sovereignty determine the outcome of whether or not we should switch to the metric system. … Americans also tend not to have a great deal of respect for the sciences (scientific literacy is appallingly low) so it makes it a tougher pitch to the everyday person.

Hang on… You're not distancing yourself from the illiterate masses now? I thought you agreed with them? ;)

Not to mention that Australia in the 1970s was 13 million people, or about 24 times smaller than the current US population.

Well, I assume the US population ain't getting any smaller the longer you put it off.

snberk103
May 5, 2011, 03:30 PM
.... Most other countries enacted policy through a quiet parliamentary action that was later carried out by agencies or at a time when most people weren't active in politics. ...

In the US there are a lot of veto points in the legislative process, making any significant change hard to do. ... why should they care about a measurement system when the one they are using right now is working for them?
...
Any realistic transition for the US would take decades.

This, I believe, captures the situation really well. Inertia, coupled with a fairly de-centralized government (at least as far as this issue is concerned). And a population that is fairly resistant to change, in many areas.

Another example is the move to a $1 coin. How many times and for how long has the US been trying to introduce this coin? Every study done shows it will save taxpayers money. Still no-go. In Canada we had no choice. The $1 coin was introduced, then the banks were told to hand out only the coins, and to start sending back to Ottawa any $1 bills that their customers were depositing. Within a few years we were a $1 bill free country. Then they removed the $2 bills. These bills are still legal, there just isn't any of them circulating. And if a bank gets one, they don't put it back into circulation. Done.

dukebound85
May 5, 2011, 03:55 PM
Talking about the cost of swtiching, I might just add… Stepping out onto the moon cost a pretty penny too. I guess beating the Soviets to bragging rights in space was more important than implementing common sense on the ground.


Common sense would dictate not fixing something that doesn't really need to be fixed

If corporations see the benefit of it to their bottom line...great. No one is stopping them from changing

Why you seem so adament that the Imperial system is horrible for the masses is quite befuddling to me to be honest

Yes, there are merits to the metric system. There are also merits to not changing. Regardless, if change happens, it will be because it just evolved that way.

CalBoy
May 5, 2011, 05:49 PM
Talking about the cost of swtiching, I might just add… Stepping out onto the moon cost a pretty penny too. I guess beating the Soviets to bragging rights in space was more important than implementing common sense on the ground.

What does that have to do with anything? :confused:

Even if this was somehow relevant, yes, it probably was more important to achieve a scientific feat at that point in time. The Apollo missions created generations of people who became interested in science, raised educational standards nationwide, and brought forth thousands of advancements that we still use in our daily lives.


Hang on… You're not distancing yourself from the illiterate masses now? I thought you agreed with them? ;)

Not with their reasoning. My scientific literacy is pretty good, and I don't have an inherent mistrust of science which many Americans do. This makes them resist things that are advocated by the scientific community, whether it's evolution, vaccination, or evidence-based medicine. So when scientists clamor about changing to the metric system, it raises two questions in the minds of people; 1) Why should I trust this person? and 2) Is the change really necessary?

I don't doubt scientists when they advocate for the metric system, in science. Howeve, since most of the advantages of the metric system are really reserved to the sciences, the question of whether or not everything in life should be metric really isn't a scientific one; it's an economic and convenience one. In my daily life I do not need to easily convert between the mass of water and its volume or take temperatures relative to the boiling point of water.


Well, I assume the US population ain't getting any smaller the longer you put it off.

No, but that doesn't mean that we should transition now either. It all depends on the ease of transition. This is why I think long term transitioning is the only real option available. Do things piecemeal in order of greatest economic return, and if there is no economic return on a particular item, forget it. There's no point in switching to something that is going only cost money; at some point there needs to be a positive return for it to make sense.

snberk103
May 5, 2011, 06:34 PM
...
I don't doubt scientists when they advocate for the metric system, in science. Howeve, since most of the advantages of the metric system are really reserved to the sciences, the question of whether or not everything in life should be metric really isn't a scientific one; it's an economic and convenience one. ....
This is why I think long term transitioning is the only real option available. Do things piecemeal in order of greatest economic return, and if there is no economic return on a particular item, forget it. There's no point in switching to something that is going only cost money; at some point there needs to be a positive return for it to make sense.

Actually, the more I think about it... the more I've come 'round to your thinking. Living in a country that has (mostly) gone metric, the more children in the US that are taught a system that no-one else in the world uses makes a lot of economic sense - for us. So please, keep on giving your children hurdles to overcome should they wish to compete in the rest of the world. It's good for the rest of us. ;)

ehoui
May 5, 2011, 06:50 PM
Actually, the more I think about it... the more I've come 'round to your thinking. Living in a country that has (mostly) gone metric, the more children in the US that are taught a system that no-one else in the world uses makes a lot of economic sense - for us. So please, keep on giving your children hurdles to overcome should they wish to compete in the rest of the world. It's good for the rest of us. ;)

There is no hurdle. American students in Science and Engineering programs are able to do both without problems. Maybe being able to handle multiple systems give us a competitive edge....

CalBoy
May 5, 2011, 07:22 PM
Actually, the more I think about it... the more I've come 'round to your thinking. Living in a country that has (mostly) gone metric, the more children in the US that are taught a system that no-one else in the world uses makes a lot of economic sense - for us. So please, keep on giving your children hurdles to overcome should they wish to compete in the rest of the world. It's good for the rest of us. ;)

It isn't the metric system (or lack thereof) that's holding our children back; it's a lack of emphasis on science and math on the part of schools, parents, and society as a whole.

We learn the metric system in school concurrently with imperial units, and at the end of the day no one is unable to grasp the idea of multiplying by 10. What American kids can't tell you is how to find the focus of a parabola or why that would be important when designing headlights. That's where the problem is.

There is no hurdle. American students in Science and Engineering programs are able to do both without problems. Maybe being able to handle multiple systems give us a competitive edge....

There is already decent evidence to show that bilingual children perform better in school and in life (the idea being that more neural connections help intelligence), so I don't see why learning a second system of measures would be all that catastrophic.

snberk103
May 5, 2011, 07:25 PM
There is no hurdle. American students in Science and Engineering programs are able to do both without problems. Maybe being able to handle multiple systems give us a competitive edge....

Which is why, of course, US News reports that 6 out of the top 10 universities for engineering and IT are not in the US? Once upon a time the US owned that list.

ehoui
May 5, 2011, 07:41 PM
Which is why, of course, US News reports that 6 out of the top 10 universities for engineering and IT are not in the US? Once upon a time the US owned that list.

Fine, but prove to me it's because of the metric system.

snberk103
May 5, 2011, 09:23 PM
Fine, but prove to me it's because of the metric system.

I don't know that it does.... I was merely rebutting the point that learning the Imperial measures gave US kids a competitive edge.

ehoui
May 5, 2011, 09:45 PM
I don't know that it does.... I was merely rebutting the point that learning the Imperial measures gave US kids a competitive edge.

I don't think it matters. If you are in an Science or Engineering, unit conversions are the least of your worries. That was my point. Metric or not-metric in our daily lives have little bearing on those in rigorous math-oriented disciplines. I might be wrong, but I'd like to hear why.

kalsta
May 5, 2011, 11:00 PM
What does that have to do with anything? :confused:

Even if this was somehow relevant …

You're the one who is always talking about the financial cost and economic return, as though it's all about money. I was just having a bit of fun with that topic. Don't take it too seriously. :)

Not with their reasoning. My scientific literacy is pretty good, and I don't have an inherent mistrust of science which many Americans do.

Gosh, then you won't be able to plead ignorance on judgement day! :eek:

I don't doubt scientists when they advocate for the metric system, in science. Howeve, since most of the advantages of the metric system are really reserved to the sciences, the question of whether or not everything in life should be metric really isn't a scientific one; it's an economic and convenience one. In my daily life I do not need to easily convert between the mass of water and its volume or take temperatures relative to the boiling point of water.

So you're saying that science has nothing to do with everyday life? Cake for the elite and bread for everyone else??

I see no good sense in that. If the metric system was intrinsically difficult to use in everyday life, then maybe you would have a point. But it's not — it's actually much, much easier to use once you learn it.

You say that you have no need for it in your personal life… but you know, I think you'd find it's a bit like an iPhone in that respect. I kept my old Nokia 5110 phone well past its use-by date because I honestly didn't have a need for anything beyond making and receiving phone calls. When the iPhone came out in Australia, I snapped one up because I wanted to have one less gadget in my pocket (iPod and phone) and now I don't know how I did without all those incredibly useful apps. The metric system, as many people here keep pointing out, enables some pretty easy mental arithmetic. You'd use it if you had it.

No, but that doesn't mean that we should transition now either. It all depends on the ease of transition. This is why I think long term transitioning is the only real option available. Do things piecemeal in order of greatest economic return, and if there is no economic return on a particular item, forget it. There's no point in switching to something that is going only cost money; at some point there needs to be a positive return for it to make sense.

You say it's about the 'ease of transition' but in the next breath you argue that it's all about 'economic return'. Personally I think you're clutching at straws to defend the fact that your country is behind the rest of the world in its ability to institute any kind of consistency with its system of measurements. But, we can agree to disagree.

snberk103
May 5, 2011, 11:02 PM
I don't think it matters. If you are in an Science or Engineering, unit conversions are the least of your worries. That was my point. Metric or not-metric in our daily lives have little bearing on those in rigorous math-oriented disciplines. I might be wrong, but I'd like to hear why.

Yes, you are correct - once you are in science or engineering. But how many children never get there because of a system that over-complicates even simple calculations. All it takes is a couple of bad years/teachers/experiences to put a kid totally off of math. Truly brilliant kids will likely overcome these set-backs, but most kids are not brilliant.... they are good to competent. And good to competent engineers are needed as much as the ones who put landers on the Mars... oh, wait wasn't there a problem with one of those that involved non-metric measurements? (what is the smiley for "snarky" and "tongue in cheek"?)

neko girl
May 5, 2011, 11:14 PM
I don't know what a centimeter is when I'm eyeballing something.. and I don't want to. I run in miles, I measure in inches, I weigh in pounds. I'm not doing conversions to kilos or megas all the time in real life, so um..

Well.

I do more conversions metric to imperial than imperial to imperial. The imperial system isn't that hard to use, and I don't think it's mattered before what the rest of the world does anyway.

(:

SidBala
May 5, 2011, 11:39 PM
The question of units is not really relevant if you are not in a science/engineering field.


I am an engineering student in Canada. We solve problems in both units. But mostly we stick to SI.

The imperial system is, quite honestly, a complete mess. Most of the time, we solve the problems in SI and then convert the results to metric.

Most professors do not bother to ask questions in imperial. Solving the problem is 1000 times harder than the conversion between units.

Sure, people who already have a feel for the imperial units will prefer imperial. But if they had grown up with metric, they would prefer that.

McGiord
May 6, 2011, 07:13 AM
Who thinks that what happens locally is what only matters is still 'living' in medieval times.
Your so beloved Apple products are produced using mm and fractions of them, and then their specs are "translated" to the proper local units for marketing and local people understanding.
We all live in the same planet, but we are so different.
Like nowadays communicating in English is the common international language, some centuries/years ago was Latin, or French, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Mongol, Chinese, etc...
Similarly with the units of measurement, depending on the region they will become popular or the well known standard that most of the people understand and agrees upon using by default.
Having a clear communication is a key for progress, and even two people think they are speaking in the same language they understand two different things.
What units are used in the Olympic games?
Formula 1 ?


So when you travel it doesn't matter? How many liters of beer are you buying?
How high that building or mountain is?
How far places are?
How much fuel will you need? How much money will you need?
What the temperature is where you are going?
If you do poorly with this basic things, how do you handle currency conversions, when you buy things? You are missing a lit of good things that are out there waiting for you, just because you want to stick with your localized thinking.

hazza.jockel
May 6, 2011, 07:16 AM
Adopting the metric system doesn't mean other more informal units of measurement will disappear from popular usage. In Australia you order a schooner or middy of beer. In some pubs it's a pint. Teaspoons won't suddenly disappear from your kitchen or your recipes. Fear not.

Exactly what I was thinking. Although glass sizes differ across states in Australia as well. Here in WA if i go for a pub I'll either ask for a pint (a big glass) or a middi, handle, pot etc (small glass) or a schooner (tall glass slightly smaller then a pint) although never have asked for a schooner and see no need.

ehoui
May 6, 2011, 08:45 AM
Yes, you are correct - once you are in science or engineering. But how many children never get there because of a system that over-complicates even simple calculations. All it takes is a couple of bad years/teachers/experiences to put a kid totally off of math. Truly brilliant kids will likely overcome these set-backs, but most kids are not brilliant.... they are good to competent. And good to competent engineers are needed as much as the ones who put landers on the Mars... oh, wait wasn't there a problem with one of those that involved non-metric measurements? (what is the smiley for "snarky" and "tongue in cheek"?)

I can understand the intuitive justification of this argument, but I'd like to see something more rigorous before I accept it. My own intuitive sense is that learning measurement systems, while important to early child development, don't, in of themselves (i.e., imperial or metric), have a causal relationship with math and science success (or failure) in school. I think there are other much stronger factors to success in math and engineering. One example: "male malaise" in the UK and the USA (a general problem in elementary and secondary schools); also, public school math programs are not rigorous and set the bar relatively low.

(marc)
May 6, 2011, 09:42 AM
Time to rename a Quarter Pounder into a "Royale with cheese"! :D

kalsta
May 6, 2011, 10:04 AM
Exactly what I was thinking. Although glass sizes differ across states in Australia as well. Here in WA if i go for a pub I'll either ask for a pint (a big glass) or a middi, handle, pot etc (small glass) or a schooner (tall glass slightly smaller then a pint) although never have asked for a schooner and see no need.

I've been to WA a couple of times… Had fish and chips with friends on the docks at Freo… all very nice! But I nearly fell over when they handed me the beers and told me the price. Don't ask me if it came in a pint or a schooner though. All I remember was it was expensive and I didn't even enjoy it. It was Redback I think — made with wheat, and not my cup of tea.

What were we talking about again?

kalsta
May 6, 2011, 10:14 AM
Time to rename a Quarter Pounder into a "Royale with cheese"! :D

They do actually call them Quarter Pounder's in Australia. And they insist on calling the chips 'fries' too! :rolleyes:

Come to think of it… isn't it a bit odd that Americans attribute 'fries' to the French, but refuse to adopt their metric system? Go figure.

kalsta
May 6, 2011, 10:41 AM
I don't know what a centimeter is when I'm eyeballing something.. and I don't want to. I run in miles, I measure in inches, I weigh in pounds. I'm not doing conversions to kilos or megas all the time in real life, so um..

Well.

I do more conversions metric to imperial than imperial to imperial. The imperial system isn't that hard to use, and I don't think it's mattered before what the rest of the world does anyway.

Neko Girl, it looks like my first reply to your comment got censored for its reference to a song from Team America, so I'll try again without said reference… :)

You run in miles? That's impressive. I run in metres. After that, I'm stuffed. BTW, no one really talks about 'megas', unless it's megabytes. Increasing computer storage is teaching us a lot of fun new prefixes — giga, and now tera have finally entered popular usage too. You have those too right? So you see people, you're already learning the metric system and you didn't even know it! The rest we could probably teach you in about 10 minutes if you have the time?

McGiord
May 6, 2011, 10:48 AM
They do actually call them Quarter Pounder's in Australia. And they insist on calling the chips 'fries' too! :rolleyes:

Come to think of it… isn't it a bit odd that Americans attribute 'fries' to the French, but refuse to adopt their metric system? Go figure.

Well they are not really french:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_fries

Tomorrow
May 6, 2011, 10:51 AM
BTW, no one really talks about 'megas', unless it's megabytes.

Or megaWatts. Look into large generators and data center infrastructure.

snberk103
May 6, 2011, 11:27 AM
I can understand the intuitive justification of this argument, but I'd like to see something more rigorous before I accept it. My own intuitive sense is that learning measurement systems, while important to early child development, don't, in of themselves (i.e., imperial or metric), have a causal relationship with math and science success (or failure) in school. I think there are other much stronger factors to success in math and engineering. One example: "male malaise" in the UK and the USA (a general problem in elementary and secondary schools); also, public school math programs are not rigorous and set the bar relatively low.

Tell you what ..... you go and find 20 kids in grade 3 or 4. Teach 10 of them how to multiply 3 13/16" by 3, and then teach the other 10 how to multiply 96.8 by 3. Then see how many from each group decide to take up social work, or teaching history, becoming a ski instructor as a profession :D.

ehoui
May 6, 2011, 11:35 AM
Tell you what ..... you go and find 20 kids in grade 3 or 4. Teach 10 of them how to multiply 3 13/16" by 3, and then teach the other 10 how to multiply 96.8 by 3. Then see how many from each group decide to take up social work, or teaching history, becoming a ski instructor as a profession :D.

No, that's not how it works -- YOU are supposed to do that to support your argument, not me :-). Anyway, I understand what you are saying, but I respectfully disagree because I think there are more important factors (for which there are studies). Cheers!

Zombie Acorn
May 6, 2011, 11:44 AM
Seriously it takes maybe a couple months to adjust to new systems of measure, it's really not that big of a deal and it certainly doesn't require any massive brain power to use metric vs. Imperial. The only preference I still have for imperial is food based. Can i have 500 grams of sliced ham? It just sounds wrong.

Also they teach both systems in grade school etc at least when I was in school.

kalsta
May 6, 2011, 11:52 AM
Well they are not really french:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_fries

Right. That's the irony of it.

Or megaWatts. Look into large generators and data center infrastructure.

Okay. 'No one' was a hyperbole.

Gosh, I can't get anything past you guys today! ;)

kalsta
May 6, 2011, 11:54 AM
The only preference I still have for imperial is food based. Can i have 500 grams of sliced ham? It just sounds wrong.

So, ask for 'half a kilo'. Problem solved. :)

rdowns
May 6, 2011, 11:57 AM
If you told the average American male that his 5 inch penis was 13 centimeters, we'd be on the metric system a week from Thursday.

kalsta
May 6, 2011, 12:11 PM
If you told the average American male that his 5 inch penis was 13 centimeters, we'd be on the metric system a week from Thursday.

Can't argue with that logic. :D

snberk103
May 6, 2011, 01:28 PM
I said some stuff, and....No, that's not how it works -- YOU are supposed to do that to support your argument, not me :-).... Cheers!

...
Okay. 'No one' was a hyperbole.

Gosh, I can't get anything past you guys today! ;)

Yeah, I'm having a tough day too ... :)

McGiord
May 6, 2011, 02:28 PM
Seriously it takes maybe a couple months to adjust to new systems of measure, it's really not that big of a deal and it certainly doesn't require any massive brain power to use metric vs. Imperial. The only preference I still have for imperial is food based. Can i have 500 grams of sliced ham? It just sounds wrong.

Also they teach both systems in grade school etc at least when I was in school.

Actually it is quite easy to order half a kilo of cheese, the question is if you wanted it grated, sliced or by the chunk, they've are pretty good at it.

CalBoy
May 6, 2011, 04:30 PM
So you're saying that science has nothing to do with everyday life? Cake for the elite and bread for everyone else??

I didn't say that at all.

Certain things are good for one thing but not as good for another. Basing your metrics off of water and light make a lot of sense when you have to measure a great deal of new items and compare them objectively.

On the other hand when you need metrics to be a guide through daily life and nothing else, the system that's born from daily necessity makes a lot more sense.

The reasoning gets worse when you'd ask 311 million to make a change because a smaller community of professionals would like their standards to be the standards for all of society. It's not like the two can't coexist; there might be a good argument there if the two were incompatible, but the fact is that they're not.

I see no good sense in that. If the metric system was intrinsically difficult to use in everyday life, then maybe you would have a point. But it's not — it's actually much, much easier to use once you learn it.

A distinction needs to be made here: just because something is easier to multiply by 10 (or 1/10th) doesn't mean that it's easier to use. How many times in your daily life do you need to multiply by 10, or even multiply what you measure? In most of my daily activities the metric system would do nothing new except provide a new set of numbers to get to know.

Even if you did occasionally multiply daily measurements, it would probably be with a smaller integer like 2, 3, or 4. In that case, the imperial system works very well because it provides very low factors and products that most people can do rapidly with nothing more than their 2nd grade 12x12 tables. In fact that's exactly how it came to be the way it is.



The metric system, as many people here keep pointing out, enables some pretty easy mental arithmetic. You'd use it if you had it.

How often does that easy arithmetic come up outside of science? Can you think of a real life example?

In any case, I do already have it. It's on every measuring device I have, from my ruler to my bathroom scale. I use it when it's necessary or more effective, but that's rare. Maybe you should accept that people can have a different preference.


You say it's about the 'ease of transition' but in the next breath you argue that it's all about 'economic return'. Personally I think you're clutching at straws to defend the fact that your country is behind the rest of the world in its ability to institute any kind of consistency with its system of measurements. But, we can agree to disagree.

They are not mutually exclusive values. Both are important factors in determining whether or not to switch. It's just like when a business decides to change it's logo; not only does the cost of marketing the new logo have to be factored in, but the potential lost sales also have to be weighed. In much the same way we have to decide if certain things being switched to metric will ever pay off and how disruptive they'll be. Some things that make sense like food and toiletries have already been metricated. Other things probably cost a lot more and won't be able to overcome their switching cost and they could also cost a lot.

snberk103
May 6, 2011, 05:07 PM
I didn't say that at all.

Certain things are good for one thing but not as good for another. Basing your metrics off of water and light make a lot of sense when you have to measure a great deal of new items and compare them objectively.

On the other hand when you need metrics to be a guide through daily life and nothing else, the system that's born from daily necessity makes a lot more sense.
...

You are entirely correct. There is really nothing that will make the daily life of an American citizen better 'cause their can of Bud is 331ml, or their corn-beef sandwich has 125gs of beef, and 12ml of mustard on two slices of rye, each 115mm thick.

But don't go around telling the world what a "modern" society you are when you are still stuck measuring things with this quaint system that the rest of the world has modernized away from. it's really kinda cute, you know. :D

Mac'nCheese
May 6, 2011, 05:21 PM
OK. So we all agree 100% that the USA should switch to the metric system. Now the question is how? Cold turkey, change everything at once, all new signs on roads, all new packaging on goods, etc. Little by little, make new signs have both miles and kms and keep that for a generation? What would be easier?

dukebound85
May 6, 2011, 05:25 PM
OK. So we all agree 100% that the USA should switch to the metric system.

We do? Not the impression I get.

Mac'nCheese
May 6, 2011, 05:44 PM
We do? Not the impression I get.

Sorry, forgot to put that part in blue.

CalBoy
May 6, 2011, 05:58 PM
You are entirely correct. There is really nothing that will make the daily life of an American citizen better 'cause their can of Bud is 331ml, or their corn-beef sandwich has 125gs of beef, and 12ml of mustard on two slices of rye, each 115mm thick.

Quite frankly I really don't understand why this attitude is necessary. Have I been rude or condescending towards you in this discussion? Has anyone else in this thread?

I think the most insulting part is that you couldn't even make a coherent point with this sarcasm. Are you trying to poke fun at random numbers in the imperial system? Arbitrary values in general? Americans who eat roast beef?


But don't go around telling the world what a "modern" society you are when you are still stuck measuring things with this quaint system that the rest of the world has modernized away from. it's really kinda cute, you know. :D

Oh you mean how you still have a queen as your sovereign? Or how you mandate bilingual education for a stark minority of French Canadians? Or how the United Kingdom still has an unwritten constitution? Or how half of Europe still has an official state church? Or how the French presume guilt rather than innocence? Or how Italy is still run by political machines?

Modernity is always a hindsight judgment. What should matter is if the system is not working for the people who use it. With private industries transitioning manufacturing to metric, the biggest argument in favor of the metric system is moot. The question then comes down to whether or not you are better positioned to judge what other people need or want.

snberk103
May 6, 2011, 07:11 PM
Originally Posted by snberk103
You are entirely correct. There is really nothing that will make the daily life of an American citizen better 'cause their can of Bud is 331ml, or their corn-beef sandwich has 125gs of beef, and 12ml of mustard on two slices of rye, each 115mm thick.
Quite frankly I really don't understand why this attitude is necessary. Have I been rude or condescending towards you in this discussion? Has anyone else in this thread?

I think the most insulting part is that you couldn't even make a coherent point with this sarcasm. Are you trying to poke fun at random numbers in the imperial system? Arbitrary values in general? Americans who eat roast beef?

What sarcasm? I was being quite serious. I actually and honestly agree with you that it won't make the vast majority of anyone's life easier if they use metric. I was being a little silly with the numbers, true... but it was not meant as sarcasm. I was born in the US, and was there until I was in grade 5. I moved to Canada when it was still using Imperial measures. And I mean the real Imperial, as in British Empire, not the slightly different American versions. And you are entirely correct - I coped just fine with gallons and ounces, feet and miles, etc etc. The biggest problem I had was converting from Imperial to American gallons/quarts/pints - and trying to figure out if my measuring cup was made in the Canada - i.e. true Imperial, or in the USA. And if it was made in the USA, was it calibrated in American sized units or was it calibrated for export and in true Imperial. As a photographer mixing up developers, fixers, etc, these questions were important. I swapped to metric volumes soon as I could for this reason - not because I couldn't work in ounces, etc.

Oh you mean how you still have a queen as your sovereign? Or how you mandate bilingual education for a stark minority of French Canadians? Or how the United Kingdom still has an unwritten constitution? Or how half of Europe still has an official state church? Or how the French presume guilt rather than innocence? Or how Italy is still run by political machines?
Guilty as charged... though we like to think being bilingual is a good and modern thing. We also have quarter of our population that hasn't signed onto our constitution (unlike the UK, we at least wrote ours down - we just don't yet have it fully ratified yet - sigh)

Modernity is always a hindsight judgment. What should matter is if the system is not working for the people who use it. With private industries transitioning manufacturing to metric, the biggest argument in favor of the metric system is moot. The question then comes down to whether or not you are better positioned to judge what other people need or want.

Yes, I was poking some buttons there. It's one that is sure to get most Americans into a lather, too. My point about the "claiming to be modern", is that the USA spends a lot of time telling the rest of the world how great it is...and it is in many ways, no argument. But there are some areas where the rest of world is, um, "greater." (Tongue In Cheek!) It is annoying to the rest of the world when Americans travel and think our metric signage is "quaint"... (First hand experience). I believe that, by definition, it's not our signage that is quaint. :)

ps.... one of the defining characteristics of being Canadian is our smugness. Deserved or not, we already know it.

kalsta
May 6, 2011, 11:15 PM
I didn't say that at all.

Certain things are good for one thing but not as good for another. Basing your metrics off of water and light make a lot of sense when you have to measure a great deal of new items and compare them objectively.

On the other hand when you need metrics to be a guide through daily life and nothing else, the system that's born from daily necessity makes a lot more sense.

Daily necessity? Is measuring your foot a daily necessity? I don't get what you're trying to say here.

Some defenders of the Imperial system tell us it's handy to measure in body parts, presumably because you all have them. But what percentage of US citizens honestly have foot-long feet? Perhaps half a foot should be called a penis? (Credit to rdowns for that idea.)

The reasoning gets worse when you'd ask 311 million to make a change because a smaller community of professionals would like their standards to be the standards for all of society. It's not like the two can't coexist; there might be a good argument there if the two were incompatible, but the fact is that they're not.

Can't you concede that there is a benefit to having a single 'standard'? The two are only compatible in the sense that you can convert between them if you know the conversion factors. Every time someone has to do this, they are wasting time. Multiply that over 311 million people and you have an awful lot of wasted time!

A distinction needs to be made here: just because something is easier to multiply by 10 (or 1/10th) doesn't mean that it's easier to use. How many times in your daily life do you need to multiply by 10 …

You multiply or divide by a multiple of 10 every time you need to convert from one derivative unit to another. 'Kilo' means a multiple of 1000 over the base unit. So if I need to convert from metres to kilometres, I simply divide by 1000. Now, that happens to be very easy to do. Why? Because our whole system of counting is base 10! It's as easy as moving the decimal point three places.

… or even multiply what you measure?

It doesn't matter what operations you're doing — multiplication, division, addition, or subtraction — it's as easy as manipulating any decimal number. You never, ever have to remember odd conversion factors to convert between different units and fractions thereof.

How often does that easy arithmetic come up outside of science? Can you think of a real life example?

I do a bit of carpentry and other work around the house. From time to time I'm buying lengths of timber, so I may be multiplying a required length over the number of lengths required, or adding up different lengths. If you're a cook, no doubt there are times when the recipe serves 4 people, but you need to cook for 6 or 8 or something, so you have to multiply measurements. When I used to go swimming at my local Olympic sized pool (which is 50 metres long) it was easy to calculate how far I swam. 20 laps = 1000 metres = 1 kilometre. I mean, I could go on and on giving you everyday examples if you want me to, but I think you're capable of doing that yourself.

I don't think Tomorrow ever responded to my earlier hypothetical, so let me put the same question to you:

Okay, imagine for a moment that one of the US states wasn't using the decimal system for counting. Instead, they had a system where letters were used to designate certain amounts, similar to Roman numerals, but instead of having a base of 10, it varied. So perhaps A is equal to 12. Then three As is equal to B. Two Bs is equal to C. 22 Bs is equal to a D, and so on with this kind of inconsistency. You have a friend living in this state who claims that the system works just fine — he spent many years studying this system and even more using it in his line of work and can't see why he or anyone else in the state should have to learn this dangfangled decimal system. What would you say to your friend?

In any case, I do already have it. It's on every measuring device I have, from my ruler to my bathroom scale. I use it when it's necessary or more effective, but that's rare. Maybe you should accept that people can have a different preference.

But (1) it's not your first 'language' so to speak, so you're no doubt less comfortable with it, and (2) if no one else around you speaks the same 'language' it doesn't help you communicate with them. This is why we have 'standards'.

Zombie Acorn
May 7, 2011, 01:40 AM
So, ask for 'half a kilo'. Problem solved. :)

Sounds like a drug order to me.

leekohler
May 7, 2011, 01:49 AM
I remember in elementary school, learning about the metric system since we were all going to switch to it. That never happened. I wonder why....

Because the USA is full of too many dumb MFs. That is your answer. We should have been using it 20 years ago.

InsanelyApple
May 7, 2011, 08:49 AM
Daily necessity? Is measuring your foot a daily necessity? I don't get what you're trying to say here.

Some defenders of the Imperial system tell us it's handy to measure in body parts, presumably because you all have them. But what percentage of US citizens honestly have foot-long feet? Perhaps half a foot should be called a penis? (Credit to rdowns for that idea.)

The thing is that this isn't rocket science. We don't need to be precise in our everyday lives. When the last time someone asked you how big something was did you say:

"Looks about 40 centimeters" or "Here let me grab meter stick... It's 42.74 centimeters"

Yeah, I thought you'd say the first one.

A foot is about a foot. We don't need to be precise in our everyday lives.

McGiord
May 7, 2011, 09:12 AM
If you don't travel and are happy with your local standards just don't worry and be happy.
Day to day usage varies from person to person.
If you live in the USA close to a border town, and for whatever reason cross the border to Canada or Mexico, you can face day to day things like getting a ticket because your car has only mph and you don't have a good sense of a speed limit in the metric or SI system.
Tipping a waiter is another nonsense calculation that you make daily: in Mexico 10%, in the US 10-15-18-20%, so how easy is using 10%?
If you like baseball and you are interested in getting a better understanding of the stats from a Latin American baseball player, how he was performing in his home town you might find the metric system, pitcher speed in Km/h and how far the home runs were in meters.
I don't practice diving or anything like it, but one thing that was very easy to remember is how far you go down and how the pressure increases: 1 atmospheric pressure every 10 meters. So 14.7 psi every X feet?
Most of the medicines nowadays are in milligrams.

ender land
May 7, 2011, 09:34 AM
I remember in elementary school, learning about the metric system since we were all going to switch to it. That never happened. I wonder why....

In my mind, two main reasons

1) We're America, and conforming to the rest of the world is not something we ever really want to do

2) A ton of American infrastructure (like manufacturing, etc) is setup using our system, which means it'll be a huge cost investment to transition everything over

kalsta
May 7, 2011, 09:45 AM
The thing is that this isn't rocket science. We don't need to be precise in our everyday lives. When the last time someone asked you how big something was did you say:

"Looks about 40 centimeters" or "Here let me grab meter stick... It's 42.74 centimeters"

Yeah, I thought you'd say the first one.

A foot is about a foot. We don't need to be precise in our everyday lives.

There are other fields of endeavour somewhere between 'rocket science' your 'everyday life' as an American teen. There are designers, architects, engineers, builders, cabinet makers, manufacturers, chefs, surveyors, and many others who, believe it or not, do need to be fairly precise with their measurements. And sometimes, one needs to do calculations with those measurements.

To answer your question, when somebody asks me how big something is, it really depends on what they're referring to. Depending on the context, my answer may be any of the following:

a. About 40 centimetres
b. Let me grab a tape measure
c. None of your business!

Tomorrow
May 8, 2011, 06:59 PM
You are entirely correct. There is really nothing that will make the daily life of an American citizen better 'cause their can of Bud is 331ml, or their corn-beef sandwich has 125gs of beef, and 12ml of mustard on two slices of rye, each 115mm thick.

I'm not sure we'd call those "slices" of rye - more like "loaves" of rye. :eek:

Big-TDI-Guy
May 8, 2011, 07:17 PM
I implement metric where I can at work. It irks me to no end that the crystals and frequencies / wavelengths I work with are all metric - and yet people want to stick with SAE on every other part just because it's easier... ?

I would also love to own just one set of tools, allen wrenches, sockets, box, ect... It would be so much cheaper not having to keep both units on-hand. And my toolbox would be half the weight!

Got a chuckle talking to my dad a while back, who is in his 70s.... told me his science teacher said that USA would be using metric before he graduated high school... My science teacher said exactly the same thing, decades later... If there is one positive to China becoming the next superpower - maybe they'll pressure us into making the switch at last? :D

paolo-
May 8, 2011, 08:30 PM
Funny, I'm getting the impression that a lot of the american posters seem to have a bad taste for SI because they learned it science class and see it at doing science.

The only argument for imperial is that it's already in place people are used to it. I think it could be implemented slowly but surely, starting with trivial things like the volume of a coke can...

http://xkcd.com/526/

dukebound85
May 8, 2011, 08:37 PM
Funny, I'm getting the impression that a lot of the american posters seem to have a bad taste for SI because they learned it science class and see it at doing science.

That is the impression you got?:confused:

I have nothing against SI at all. What I fail to see is the need to revamp everything when it really is not needed

The only argument for imperial is that it's already in place people are used to it. I think it could be implemented slowly but surely, starting with trivial things like the volume of a coke can...

http://xkcd.com/526/

That is not the only argument but is a big hurdle nonetheless. I suggest reading CalBoy's responses on some of the benefits with the imperial system

notjustjay
May 8, 2011, 09:20 PM
The thing is that this isn't rocket science. We don't need to be precise in our everyday lives. When the last time someone asked you how big something was did you say:

"Looks about 40 centimeters" or "Here let me grab meter stick... It's 42.74 centimeters"


Honestly, I'd say it looked like about 16 inches.

I've been reading this thread with interest and as someone pointed out earlier, it's interesting how we Canadians are pretty well entrenched in both sets of units.

I prefer to do construction work in inches and feet, for example to measure out the length of a 2x4 (aha! imperial!) or to cut plywood, for example.

I prefer imperial when cooking. Give me pounds and cups and teaspoons please, and tell me to set my oven to 375 degrees F, not 190 degrees C, so I can bake a 1/2 dozen eggs. Yet we buy our milk in liters...

When I set up a new Word document, it's on an 8.5x11" sheet of paper with 1.5" margins on the edges.

But when I want to hear the weather forecast, I want degrees C. 0 degrees C means it's cold (water freezes). Anything below 0 means it's really cold. Above 0 is good. The higher the better (but not above about 35 degrees, which is heat wave weather. Anything over 40? YIKES!)

FX120
May 9, 2011, 12:28 AM
There are other fields of endeavour somewhere between 'rocket science' your 'everyday life' as an American teen. There are designers, architects, engineers, builders, cabinet makers, manufacturers, chefs, surveyors, and many others who, believe it or not, do need to be fairly precise with their measurements. And sometimes, one needs to do calculations with those measurements.

To answer your question, when somebody asks me how big something is, it really depends on what they're referring to. Depending on the context, my answer may be any of the following:

a. About 40 centimetres
b. Let me grab a tape measure
c. None of your business!

It's never been much of an issue to me. Somehow us dumb Americans have survived over two centuries of designing and building very complicated structures and assemblies using our inferior measurement system.

Oh, by the way: Engineers often work in decimal inches. Makes working in inches pretty easy.

IMO it's a non issue. Maybe we'll convert to metric when the rest of the world starts speaking English.

Tomorrow
May 9, 2011, 09:09 AM
IMO it's a non issue. Maybe we'll convert to metric when the rest of the world starts speaking English.

Are you kidding? We can't even get all of America speaking English. ;)

InsanelyApple
May 9, 2011, 10:40 AM
But when I want to hear the weather forecast, I want degrees C. 0 degrees C means it's cold (water freezes). Anything below 0 means it's really cold. Above 0 is good. The higher the better (but not above about 35 degrees, which is heat wave weather. Anything over 40? YIKES!)

Haha, silly person. Visit my state in the US. It feels about 125F (51C) in summertime. We'd love that kind of weather!

ratzzo
May 10, 2011, 12:15 AM
Personally I grew up using the metric system and having moved to USA in which everything is 3.7, 1.6, 2.7 instead of plain 1.00 makes it a bit harder. KM to miles are easy, multiply by 6 and so on. But doing the same for gallons, quarts, litres, ... everything can be annoying at times.

It would only make sense that in the future the whole world uses just one standard way of measure, and this would be the metric system given how simple it is to understand and convert. Unfortunately, these changes at a global level are always very difficult to endure and in the end, neither governments nor people like change. While I believe it should happen and might happen, it'll take many years for something like that to show up out of the blue.

Apple OC
May 10, 2011, 12:30 AM
Haha, silly person. Visit my state in the US. It feels about 125F (51C) in summertime. We'd love that kind of weather!

where do you live that it is 51C? ... the edge of a volcano in Hawaii?

balamw
May 10, 2011, 06:18 AM
KM to miles are easy, multiply by 6 and so on.

Something is missing from that. 1 mile ~= 1.6 km, 1 km ~= 0.6 mi, 6 mi ~= 10 km, ... :)

Engineers often work in decimal inches.

IMHO (as an engineer) microinches and mil (milliinches) should be the first units retired. Once you are at those scales you are likely to have other things in your design that are already in mm and um.

B

Don't panic
May 10, 2011, 07:33 AM
That is not the only argument but is a big hurdle nonetheless. I suggest reading CalBoy's responses on some of the benefits with the imperial system

i read all his 'points' and the the only advantage that i can see we have with the imperial system is that we are used to it.
but there is not a single objective advantage of the imperial system over the metric.
maybe if it was internally consistent with the base 16 and fraction system and the relationships between different units. but it's not.
it's an irrational potpourri of inconsistently random systems that some of us want to keep because
a) we think we are intrinsically better then everyone else
b) we are lazy
or
c) we think other people are to stupid to understand the new (and much easier) system without selfcombusting or something.