# Metric system in the usa

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Mac'nCheese, May 2, 2011.

1. ### Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030

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Feb 9, 2010
#1
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....

2. ### iJohnHenry macrumors P6

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#2
A fair question.

Ask NASA about the 'problem' with the Mars orbiter.

3. ### steadysignal macrumors 6502a

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Dec 21, 2010
#3
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.

4. ### Cboss macrumors 6502

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#4
According to this article, 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.

5. ### dukebound85 macrumors P6

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#5
SI is superior in conversions only
Imperial is superior as I actually have a feel for the numbers

6. ### Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

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Oct 9, 2006
#6
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.

7. ### Apple OC macrumors 68040

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Hogtown
#7
a lb. of butter is still called a lb. of butter here in Canada

8. ### grapes911 Moderator emeritus

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Citizens Bank Park
#8
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.

9. ### Cboss macrumors 6502

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#9
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.

### Staff Member

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Aug 16, 2005
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New England
#10
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

11. ### iJohnHenry macrumors P6

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#11
An oddity, a throwback perhaps?

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

### Staff Member

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#12
Don't you guys in the great white north buy milk in bundles of 4 1 liter bags anyway.

B

13. ### Apple OC macrumors 68040

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Hogtown
#13
usually 3 one litre bags ... for the price of 4

14. ### iJohnHenry macrumors P6

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#14
No, we buy them in three 1 & 1/3 litre bags, to total 4 litres.

15. ### McGiord macrumors 601

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#15
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,....

16. ### iJohnHenry macrumors P6

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#16
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.

17. ### Dany M macrumors 6502

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Jun 18, 2007
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#17
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

18. ### wordoflife macrumors 604

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Jul 6, 2009
#18
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.

19. ### SuperCachetes macrumors 6502a

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#19
Please tell me that's sarcasm.

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

20. ### Apple OC macrumors 68040

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Hogtown
#20
\$1.38 per litre for gas sounds cheaper ... Gas pricing may be the reason the US adopts the metric system

21. ### FX120 macrumors 65816

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May 18, 2007
#21
At least we're not as bad as the UK...

22. ### Abstract macrumors Penryn

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Location Location Location
#22
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.

23. ### CalBoy macrumors 604

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May 21, 2007
#23
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.

24. ### SuperBrown macrumors member

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#24
Yes, let's not change it because YOU actually have a feel for the numbers.

25. ### dukebound85 macrumors P6

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#25
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....