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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 02-11-2009, 06:40 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piwoslaw View Post
It takes getting used to, but still easier than random names and numbers.
Not really, because at least the random names stay the same. A lot of them, like for instance foot or mile (from the Latin for "a thousand paces") have reasonable meanings, or come in handy sizes. Then there's the metric fashion for naming units after people. What could be less rational than that?

Then there's the whole tens thing, when for many purposes - packaging being a prime example - 12 is a lot handier. How would you package a 5-pack of beer, for instance?

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Old 02-11-2009, 11:43 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Despite tool sizes and other conversions, we are very late to arrive on the SI scene. Even Medical Labs and research groups are using the Metric System to report values here in the U.S.

Problem is, we have a big economic problem (along with the rest of the world) to sort-out first. Then health care, education, law enforcement, etc. It may take some time to put it in the minds of the average American as an important issue.

I'll sign on the dotted-line to immediately convert, but the rest of the Country will certainly need to catch up. Take a look at the Canadian conversion controversy in the 1980's and amplify it.

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Old 02-12-2009, 12:18 AM   #33 (permalink)
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I always see the same arguments against metric, that so many things are sized in imperial that it cant be changed. It wont matter, a 2x4 will exist long after imperial is gone and there is nothing wrong with that. It made no sence to change the drive sizes on the ratchets so the tool companies didnt. US industry has been ready to change to metric for a long time so thats a non argument as well.

I disagree with the comments that it will never happen, as the U.S. looses its grip as the economic superpower of the world and it becomes more evident that imperial appears to be the liability that it actually is then things will change.
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Old 02-12-2009, 02:52 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Not really, because at least the random names stay the same. A lot of them, like for instance foot or mile (from the Latin for "a thousand paces") have reasonable meanings, or come in handy sizes. Then there's the metric fashion for naming units after people. What could be less rational than that?
If a unit is named after someone, then that someone most likely had something to do with that unit or that field in general. This can help kids on their science class tests. Whether a unit is named after someone or not, you just have to remember it. In the metric system you have 1 unit of mass (gram), for length you have 1 unit (meter). The unit of volume, liter, is defined as (0.1meter)^3. Everything else is just scaled from these base units. Tonnes are just 1 million grams. I admit that prefixes such as kilo-, centi-, milli-, etc. take getting used to if you don't know any Greek. They only change the order of magnitude.
According to Wikipedia in the US system, there are more names to remember.
(1) Weight - grains, ounces, pounds, tons. The latter can be long tons (2240lbs.) or short tons (2000lbs.). Ounces can be Troy (just over 31.1 grams) or avoirdupois (28.35 grams). In fact, since 1958 the avoirdupoisounce is defined using the metric system!!
(2) Length - inchs, feet, miles. Feet and miles come in the normal and survey variety. Miles can also be nautical.
(3) Volume - ounce, cup, pint, quart, gallon, beer barrel and oil barrel. Here you must be careful, since the same name represents something different depending on whether it is dry or liquid volume.

Now comes the fun part: try to quickly convert not from metric to US, but from one US measure to another. How many pints is 2.3 gallons? How many inches are in 1.7 miles? In the metric system the differences between unit names are only a few orders of magnitude. Metric is what it is because a kilogram is not 872 grams, or 54 centimeters being 1 meter and 1145 meters being a kilometer. When I say that US measures have "random" values, this is what I mean. It's so much easier to get lost in the US units. What do I mean when I say I need 8 ounces of suger? Halfpound, or halfpint? This contradicts your saying that the name stays the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Then there's the whole tens thing, when for many purposes - packaging being a prime example - 12 is a lot handier. How would you package a 5-pack of beer, for instance?
This depends on what is being packaged. Eggs can be packed in dozens (12) or 18 in the US, here we have 6, 10, or 15, but you can buy 1 if you want. 12 is a number which just loves to be divided, that's why the Mesopotamians counted in base-12 or base-60, and thats why it's the base of our time system. The only 5-packs I've seen were 4+1free, but I would imagine a hexagonal 7-pack of beer or other cans or bottles might be quite efficient from the materials and transport point of view.
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:29 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Then there's the metric fashion for naming units after people. What could be less rational than that?
I believe basing the value of a unit of measurement off the length of a specific individual's body appendage is less rational (i.e. inch, foot).

The name of a unit is just a name but at least prominent scientists' names are spelled and abbreviated the same in every language. No system is immune, in fact every temperature measurement system is named after a person (since Celsius took over the "centigrade"). Many measures common to both systems are also named after people; Watt, Volt, Ampere. Seems like a canard.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:59 AM   #36 (permalink)
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I like to measure fuel consumption in hogs heads per furlong myself... :P

I'd prefer switching to the metric system. You can buy soda in liters, but not milk. I buy bike tires as 700C x 23 or 35. Food is usually sold by weight in ounces and pounds, but serving sizes can be either in grams or ounces. Enough with the mixed systems!
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Old 02-12-2009, 03:52 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by i_am_socket View Post
You can buy soda in liters, but not milk.
I was thinking about that today. Soda in liters, milk in gallons, but not vice versa. Unless you go to the movies and buy the ultra jumbo 64oz. cup of Coke
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:02 PM   #38 (permalink)
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I'm actually reading a book on this debate right now, "Meter Means Measure - the story of the metric system"
Apparently one of the first congressional lobbies was one formed by industry giants in the late 1800s to squash a metric bill proposed and originally supported by most of congress. After the lobby was formed against it, Alexander Graham Bell came to speak before Congress, explaining in context his experimentation (with flight, not the phone) that converting between complex measurements of thrust, mass, and volume he found it easier to first convert measurements to metric and then to use metric measurements throughout the rest of his design and problem solving. In addition, he taught the laymen at his shop with no prior knowledge of metric what to do and they picked up on things quite handily, and liked it.
I think he should have made the, "It's more patriotic to stick with the British system!!!" argument - my favorite.
P.S. Although I am in favor of adopting SI units, I will never adopt British spellings - Favourite, Tyres, Neighbour. I can't deal with them
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:24 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Piwoslaw View Post
If a unit is named after someone, then that someone most likely had something to do with that unit or that field in general.
I actually do know that (got degrees in physics & computer engineering, even :-), but it still makes no sense at all. In either system, you still have to do the rote memorization to know what all the names mean. (Of course it does make sense if you dump the names, and stick with the four fundamental quantities to do dimensional analysis.) The British units often do make more sense - a foot's about the length of the average man's foot (OK, it's sexist :-)), an inch the length of the first joint of a thumb, a mile's a handy thousand steps, a cup or a pint a handy size for a drink, etc. Go to metric, and the basic units aren't nearly as useful for everyday things. What can you relate a meter or a gram to, in the everyday world? Liters are too big for most of us to drink, a horsepower's easier to get a feel for than a kilowatt...
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:36 AM   #40 (permalink)
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The American Auto industry has been metric for nearly two decades. A few old pieces of hardware may have squeaked through due to lack of redesign. American military standards seemed to set the rules for socket drives during the cold war. Prior to that, some drive sizes were different, 9/32 drive instead of 3/8 and one other but the specific escapes me. It's not hard to use both and niether is should be confusing for someone appliing them regularly.

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