I wanted to test whether I can put links into PollDaddy poll items for the Laser Smackdown wrap-up tomorrow, so I needed a test poll. But, of course, if I’m going to go to the trouble, I might as well post it, so here’s a dorky poll inspired by the fact that the book I’m using for Quantum Mechanics this term uses CGS units:

It was inspired by a quantum book, but it’s a classical Internet, so please choose only one. Or leave a comment to complain about the absence of your preferred choice.


  1. #1 mollishka
    April 22, 2010

    You forgot God’s units: Solar masses, parsecs, and years.

  2. #2 6EQUJ5
    April 22, 2010

    For physics, chemistry, and engineering, SI, of course.

    However, in the kitchen, recipes are in pints and quarts, teaspoons, tablespoons, pounds and ounces. In the construction industry, everything is in inches and feet, pounds and ounces, with lumber and panels and stud spacing and plumbing in standard sizes. Our firearms industry here measures calibers and dimensions in inches, and uses customary systems for shotgun bores, powder charges, and shot size. None of these are likely to change anytime soon, and there are practical and economic reasons for staying the course.

  3. #3 Jamie B.
    April 22, 2010

    Aww, natural units aren’t an option? I guess I’ll have to go with SI, then.

    As a particle physicist, I am extremely fond of c=1.

  4. #4 Jason
    April 22, 2010

    The Potrzebie System gets my vote.

  5. #5 Excited State
    April 22, 2010

    I chose Planck units, because those are the closest to the natural units used by particle physicists.

    I always use h-bar=c=1, and use MeV as my energy scale.

    And of course k, Boltzmann’s constant, is equal to 1. Worst conversion ever.

  6. #6 tcmJOE
    April 22, 2010

    There’s the “freshmen I TA” units, which seems like SI/cgs until we start getting distances in cm^2 and they report that the diodes they built in lab needed a doping concentration of 10^53 boron atoms per cubic centimeter.

    Though in all fairness they did figure it out after a couple of e-mails from me along the lines of, “Seriously guys, you’re all smart enough to check your units, so do it.”

  7. #7 marciepooh
    April 22, 2010

    Units? We don’t need no stinking standardized units. Everything can be measured relative to fingers, coins (please specify), pocket knives, pens/pencils, Bruton compasses, camera lens caps, rock hammers, people, and cars.

  8. #8 sraun
    April 22, 2010

    What? No furlongs/fortnight?

  9. #9 Moopheus
    April 22, 2010

    “However, in the kitchen, recipes are in pints and quarts, teaspoons, tablespoons, pounds and ounces.”

    Not necessarily. A fair number of cookbooks, especially the more professional ones, are in metric, especially for bread and pastry; it’s just easier. I use metric in the kitchen every day.

  10. #10 Mu
    April 22, 2010

    I work with engineers: so it’s psi and fractional inches

  11. #11 estraven
    April 22, 2010

    I’m a mathematician, with a very strong tendency to set
    2*\pi*i=1. Makes complex geometry so much easier. The only problem is to put the constant back in before I publish.

  12. #12 Kylinn
    April 22, 2010

    Where are my feet, bushels, fathoms, furlongs, fortnights, drams, gills, pecks, ounces, stones, rods, spans, yards, and other traditional units? I demand the right to be as confused as any of my ancestors!

  13. #13 onymous
    April 22, 2010

    Particle physics units: c = 1, hbar = 1, everything dimensionful measured in some power of GeV.

  14. #14 Bill
    April 22, 2010

    I prefer The BEER as a unit. It covers length (How far away is the nearest beer), time (How long until the next beer), weight (of course you use larger bottles as the base unit), volume (1 beer =~ 22 oz), the color spectrum (a nice Belgian wit is 0 and an inky black stout is 100), taste (Buttweiser to your favorite)

    Of course you can see where this leads, but the time I have is already negative since it’s after 17:00EST in conventional units.

  15. #15 Science & Honor
    April 22, 2010

    Everyone knows beer must be measured in firkens, kilderkins, and hogsheads. Otherwise you simply don’t have enough.

  16. #16 Simple Country Physicist
    April 23, 2010

    I fear that I select based on profession intuition and experience of which will be easiest to translate results into the English units used by the Yankee government. And then there is the occasional renormalization to express the actual numbers on a span of 0-23 (fingers, toes, nose, ears) for political appointees and general officers.

  17. #17 Matthew von der Ahe
    April 25, 2010

    #7 marciepooh: Right on. As I always say when narrating field work slide shows, “Grad student for scale.”

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