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View Poll Results: Should the US switch to metric units?
Yeah, ASAP!! 71 73.96%
I dunno. Let me think about it. 7 7.29%
Now why would anyone use the metric system? 18 18.75%
Voters: 96. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-15-2015, 02:12 PM   #131 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piwoslaw View Post
In order to continue this discussion we must all understand the 3 main differences between imperial and metric systems:
Oh, I do understand them quite well. I have, after all, been using the metric system pretty much all my life, in the scientific areas where it's useful.

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The metric system defines each unit as a function of other units. For example: A liter is 0.1m x 0.1m x 0.1m . In imperial, each measurement can be defined by analogue, but historically they are unrelated.
The metric system irrationally defines some units in terms of other units to which they are unrelated. As for instance the gram being the mass of one cc of water. Why water rather than mercury or hydrogen? Purely arbitrary.

Quote:
The metric system is base-10, just like the number system we all use to count.
We don't use base 10 all the time, though. Lots of us use binary and hexadecimal (and not just for computing: halves and quarters are handy in carpentry), base 12 is used in packaging* and for times (as is base 60), base 360 for angles...

*Indeed, I think base 12 has the best claim to a rational system, since it works with geometry.

Quote:
In imperial each measurement has a different base: base-12, base-16, base-5280, etc.
Because those bases work well for the particular task, rather than trying to shoehorn everything into decimal. Though I do think it would make sense to redefine the mile as 6000 feet (nautical mile), or 1000 paces...

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The strength of the metric system is not in the defined length of the meter, but in its base-10 calculation system.
For some purposes, yes, as for when you're doing scientific calculations using powers of 10. But for everyday use, you create confusion with a large set of prefixes applied to the basic unit. And verbosity: inch vs centimeter, mile vs kilometer, pound vs kilogram - one syllable words vs three or four syllables.


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Old 12-15-2015, 02:21 PM   #132 (permalink)
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When you get into the IT industry, it's all binary and hexadecimal.

When I was at Symantec I worked with a guy who could add and subtract in hexadecimal, in his head.
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Old 12-15-2015, 03:44 PM   #133 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piwoslaw View Post
In order to continue this discussion we must all understand the 3 main differences between imperial and metric systems:
The metric system irrationally defines some units in terms of other units to which they are unrelated. As for instance the gram being the mass of one cc of water. Why water rather than mercury or hydrogen? Purely arbitrary.
No, not arbitrary. The other obvious choice would be invar, but they went with water because, if you don't have any around handy, you are not worried about measurements.

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Old 12-15-2015, 05:16 PM   #134 (permalink)
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I'm in the switch as soon as practical camp, though I still do a lot of metglish in the transition.

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Though I do think it would make sense to redefine the mile as 6000 feet
You are insane.
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Old 12-15-2015, 06:06 PM   #135 (permalink)
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You wouldn't want us to throw away all those tools we used to win WW2, would you?

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Old 12-15-2015, 06:42 PM   #136 (permalink)
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I still see fun in the fact that the US liberated itself from the Kings rule but kept the Kings rulers.

The French had pounds and feet etc., all slightly different from all the feet and pounds etc from other nations, before they chose to dump them for interrelated metric measures.

Napoleon imposed his units, and other mean traits like mandatory last names, on the countries he conquered; and sure enough we refused to use them unless forced to do so, ready to get rid of it as soon as the French left.
Guess what - once accustomed to both systems it became obvious what worked out best, and two years after the occupation ended, patriotism gave way to practicality and nobody used the old system anymore.

I grew up with the metric system but spent several months under Imperial rule, taking the odd units as a challenge. I can use either system to some extent. But I feel the changeover from metric to Imperial would be a lot tougher than the other way round.
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It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

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Old 12-15-2015, 06:57 PM   #137 (permalink)
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Best yet: "...inches got man to the moon first, not centimeters..."
I thought they used rockets?
Designed by a German?
Who most likely used the metric system, as common in his homeland and science?
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It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

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Old 12-15-2015, 07:50 PM   #138 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Though I do think it would make sense to redefine the mile as 6000 feet (nautical mile), or 1000 paces...
How about 3280.8 feet?



I work in a business that manufacturers equipment in multiple countries. The metric vs standard dimensions is a significant hurdle to try to overcome. We try to design products that can be produced both in Europe and in the US, and it is very difficult to get parts to fit together when it could be made from either 3/16" x 1-1/2" or 5 x 40mm bar stock, for example. Many times, it's simply not possible.

Our country has an enormous infrastructure for providing materials in standard sizes to go in products designed to use these standard size materials. Our steel and aluminum industry will have to replace all of their dies. Our manufacturers will have to redesign all of their products that use these materials The legislature can wave it's magic wand and change the standard we use, but it's going to take a lot of time and money to shift our manufacturing over. It's not as simple as just changing the MPH signs on the freeways.

I'm all for it, but I'm not na´ve enough to believe it will be quick or easy.

I find it a little amusing when our European engineering team specifies metric rivets, and they are 3.2 or 4.8mm. So strange that they don't come out to a nice, whole number like all the other metric fasteners.
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Old 12-15-2015, 08:45 PM   #139 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
The metric system irrationally defines some units in terms of other units to which they are unrelated. As for instance the gram being the mass of one cc of water. Why water rather than mercury or hydrogen? Purely arbitrary.
Everything about the metric system is beautiful. Water? We're made of water and use it for many things- and its freezing and boiling points are relevant everywhere. A gram of water is a cubic centimeter, tying mass, length and volume together. What's the other system's answer? The ounce.

Yay, 1/16 of a pound, which is the weight of 7000 grains. It's used for volume too: 1/16 of a pint, which is 1/18 of a gallon, which is 231 cubic inches. The inch, BTW, is defined as 25.4mm. See, regular measurements tie mass, length and volume together just like metric does!

As to all the prefixes that the metric system uses, I still prefer that to the night last week that I had to teach my daughter to deal with ounces and pounds as separate units in the same math problem. Having a few fussy sounding prefixes is a lot easier than converting units every time you measure things. Sure, it feels silly to say that I just took 1000mg of Tylenol, but at least the amount is clear: my doctor didn't prescribe .035 oz or .0022 lb of the stuff. And while it may be twice as many keystrokes, but mg isn't all that much harder than g to type.
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Old 12-16-2015, 03:36 PM   #140 (permalink)
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The French had pounds and feet etc., all slightly different from all the feet and pounds etc from other nations, before they chose to dump them for interrelated metric measures.
The French didn't actually choose this. The metric system was forced on them, first by the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, then (as you point out) by a megalomanic dictator.

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Guess what - once accustomed to both systems it became obvious what worked out best...
Well, one could make a pretty strong argument that, based on things like per capita GDP, the Imperial measures have worked out best. France used to be a major world power before it adopted the metric system. Now, not so much :-) Likewise Britain: used to be that the sun never set on the British Empire. Now that it has adopted the metric system, the Empire is a memory, Scotland & Wales want independence...

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