The Scientific Activist

Anyone who has lived outside of the United States or practiced science for a significant amount of time can vouch for the wonder that is the metric system. However, since an unfortunate majority of Americans do not fit this description, we’re subject to outbursts like these:

NO, on celsius. This is the United States of America. We speak English and use Fahrenheit. Well, I guess you could show wind speed in kilometers, too. Where does it stop? I guess when we become a Spanish speaking nation.

Yes, this was just one the many responses to an announcement by Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller on Houston ABC-13′s Weather Blog when he announced that the TV station’s weather report would now include temperatures in Celsius in addition to Fahrenheit.

Uh uh oh no he didn’t….

Let’s see what other gems Heller’s blog post produced in the comments section:

Hate it.


I don’t like the new addtion of celsius to the forecast, please remove it.


WHY CATER TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY? THEY SHOULD LEARN THE AMERICAN WAY. ENGLISH AND FAHREHEIT.
IF THE WHOLE COUNTRY GOES THE WAY OF THE METRIC SYSTEM, THEN IT’S A DIFFERENT SITUATION.


This is just another example of giving in to people who come here from other countries and are too lazy to learn our ways (English, non-metric temps, etc.). Why should they have to learn our ways, we feed them their ways so they don’t have to bother. This is a TERRIBLE idea. If I need to know how to convert something from metric to American temps, I will get a book and figure it out or find it on the internet. They should do the same. With the internet, anything can be learned without it having to be fed to us. I don’t expect other countries to cow-tow to my English, we should NOT cow-tow to their language and desires to not bother to learn our language and ways.


What the heck are you doing here channel 13?? We cater to everyone here in the US already. If you get a bunch of feedback asking for the labels on the screen to be in other languages are you going to do that too? NO I DO NOT AGREE THAT YOU NEED TO POST IN CELSIUS. How far will we the citizens of the US allow this to go?? I will again become a faithful 13 viewer when you remove this from your forecast otherwise there are several other choices for a true English speaking AMERICAN to watch.


Just another concession to political correctness and liberalism. By compromising our language, our culture, our standards, and the like we only enable those who refuse to assimilate and only wish to be leeches upon our largesse.

I’ve traveled extensively, the world over, and I’ve never seen such concessions to Americans.

If they want to live here they should do so legally, learn the language, learn the culture, systems, and standards and assimilate !! Otherwise, please stay away.


I guess I’am just old school but I think we to leave the way it was,NO CELSIUS.


Absolute nonsense IMO to post Celsius. We’re not in Canada nor the UK, thank God!


No more Celsius. We live in America……


Mr. Heller,

This is America and when in America you learn the language and customs of the United States. This Celsius junk need to go, or I’ll just go to another channel.


I think that when people comes to our country to live they should adapt to our way of living. When you go to their counties,we adapt to their ways.That what wrong with our country-we keep giving and receive nothing in return. As for my family we will change channels to watch the news.


Houston is not an international city, it is a local city with a lot of people from different countries living here, anyone coming to Houston should expect to adapt to our system. I do not like your idea of including the metric equivalent.

OK, to be fair, I’ll note that the majority of the comments on the post (not reprinted here) weren’t completely crazy. Still, this just is another reminder of the incredibly obstinate obstacles facing the adoption of the (obviously superior) metric system in the US. Keep in mind that this was not opposition to ABC-13 switching to Celsius, but to the station even including Celsius temperatures alongside Fahrenheit measures.

Wow… and LOL.

Comments

  1. #1 Ex-drone
    October 13, 2007

    Preserving cultural homogeneity is such a thankless chore. The next step will be to redub all foreign sounding TV personalities by American actors. And what happened to the edict on Freedom fries?

  2. #2 Julie Stahlhut
    October 13, 2007

    I’ve been happily using Celsius in the lab since my secondary-school science classes in the 1970s, and still have to think hard about what a Celsius temperature means in terms of everyday experience (weather, body temperature, etc.) Giving kids — and adults — this kind of example is such a great idea that I can’t imagine why every weather report doesn’t do it.

    Then again, most of the complainers probably flunked ninth-grade biology, so what can you do?

  3. #3 Zeno
    October 13, 2007

    A couple of decades ago, when I was a legislative staffer in Sacramento, my boss received a letter from an angry constituent. CalTrans had put some some road signs that included distances in both miles and kilometers. (Remember when we thought that might be useful and educational?) The irate writer demanded to know “When did we vote for this?” and “Who is responsible for this outrage?”

    I guess things haven’t changed that much and we’re still awash in isolationists.

  4. #4 Elf Eye
    October 13, 2007

    I wonder if these folks who object so strenuously to the use of the celsius scale realize that the good ol’ merkin fahrenheit scale is named after the 18th century German physicist Daniel Fahrenheit. Oh, yes, the word ‘temperature’ is itself imported from Latin. And we borrowed ‘climate’ from the French! Good thing the word ‘weather’ was around during Old English times or we wouldn’t even be able to have a patriotic conversation about everybody’s favorite topic.

  5. #5 richard
    October 13, 2007

    “When you come to the United States you do what we do, like speak English, which we invented…

    and Fahrenheit which we invented…

    and…

    What do you mean, we took them from ferriners?”

  6. #6 Anders Hällzon
    October 13, 2007

    “I wonder if these folks who object so strenuously to the use of the celsius scale realize that the good ol’ merkin fahrenheit scale is named after the 18th century German physicist Daniel Fahrenheit.”

    Fahrenheit named after a German, Celsius named after a Swede. I guess the Americans will have to use Kelvin (named after an Irishman*, but at least he spoke English).

    I need to get out my winter clothes. It’s probably just 273 K outside…

    *) Says Wikipedia. I’m not dignifying isolationists with a more thorough search.

  7. #7 crf
    October 13, 2007

    Centigrade is arguably not superior and may be inferior to fahrenheit for weather reports. If you’re used to fahrenheit, centigrade temperatures are less useful, and vice versa. A degree celcius is also larger than a degree fahrenheit, so the useful range of celcius temperatures weather-wise is smaller than that of fahrenheit: that’s a plus for fahrenheit over centigrade.

    The metric system, in general, is also inferior in other ways to American or imperial systems for everyday, non-calculatory use. Again, because people know and use the imperial system, but also because the standard imperial units are more pleasing to work with: feet and inches are usually a more useful measure than a meter for estimating sizes of everyday objects (a meter is too large, a centimetre too small: but feet and inches of many everyday objects can be accurately estimated): take for instance people’s heights, or dimensions of books, rooms, wheel diameters, etc. Also, for historical reasons, miles are a more useful measure than kilometers because roads were usually laid out in mile grids.

    The easy construction of the metric system is an advantage, and it makes it easy to learn, even for adults. With a centimetre ruler, water, and simple construction materials, a child could create accurate metric volume and mass measures.

    The calculation and construction advantage of metric, while an advantage in physics where unit conversion is helpful, is not usually of practical use. For example, rather than define quantities in terms of other quantities, we often simply want to double or halve quantities, where metric is, at best, no more useful than imperial.

  8. #8 Moe
    October 13, 2007

    A degree celcius is also larger than a degree fahrenheit, so the useful range of celcius temperatures weather-wise is smaller than that of fahrenheit: that’s a plus for fahrenheit over centigrade.

    You’ve just highlighted one of the gross inefficiencies of the Fahrenheit system, it requires more degrees to express a temperature. In these days of Global warming, we need to use the more compact Celcius system to minimize the effect.
    ;-)

  9. #9 Meng Bomin
    October 13, 2007

    crf, I will agree with you that currently, the U.S. system is better for the American populace, simply because that is the system they are used to, but I must disagree on the assertion that Fahrenheit is inherently better than Celcius.

    Yes, there is slightly greater resolution in the temperature when using Fahrenheit, but most people I know would not be able to detect the difference between 49 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit, both of which would be 10 degrees Celcius in a weather broadcast.

    The fact is that we don’t need the extra resolution in telling the temperature, which is why they don’t add an extra digit to the figure. Really, people just want to get a general idea for what the weather is going to be and Celcius delivers just as well as Fahrenheit in this manner.

    While there probably are many facets of our society where the U.S. system of measurement is currently entrenched, I think that in this era of globalization, it would be a good idea for us to start transitioning over to metric, which is a superior system in many ways and is also what everyone else uses.

  10. #10 TLB
    October 13, 2007

    If you weren’t encased in a parochial bubble, you might realize this as just yet another tiny step towards balkanization. It’s not as big a step as, say, Spanish-language debates, but tiny steps like this will lead to more later. Let me suggest learning much more about this topic – and perhaps living in central L.A. for a while – before you pretend to know anything about it.

  11. #11 decrepitoldfool
    October 13, 2007

    I have on my shelves a volume entitled Metric Madness which seriously intones:

    It is hardly surprising that metric countries are pressuring us to convert, with Uncle Sam picking up both tabs, viz higher U.S. production costs and reduced competitive advantage. Metric conversion by us means many more thousands of lost jobs. Unfortunately, present congressional conversion policy encourages such dismal circumstances.

    The unemployed and most of the rest of us have more than enough troubles already without another hotly divisive issue, such as metric SI, piled on top of all the rest when nobody needs the inflationary influences of conversion to it.

    It is high time we avoid additional emotional issues for a while and let tempers cool, otherwise nobody can get along with anyone else and we may collapse from national apoplexy. moreover, we are near the point where nobody can lead such adversely fractioned nation of splinter groups, all pulling in different directions.

    The metric connection bears many aspects of a vast conspiracy to cripple our economy and greatly increase our inflation rate, participation in which is most definitely un-American.
    - Metric Madness, by J.W. Batchelder, 1981 Devin-Adair company, p. 189

    A vast conspiracy! Really, you can’t make this stuff up. The book goes on to show how metric would hurt our economy, impair national security and trade competitiveness, cause more auto accidents, and generally cause society to disintegrate completely. I guess little has changed in 26 years…

  12. #12 CRM-114
    October 13, 2007

    Do the same tards object to having their speedometers read mph and kph? When they watch TV, do they object if the newsroom shows the time in UTC?

    Incidentally, the Fahrenheit scale is based on not one but two stupid ideas. One: he wanted to avoid negative temperatures, so he fixed his zero at the lowest temperature he knew how to produce — despite there being people smarter than him who would produce lower temperatures, and that fact that his zero had no correspondence to anything in the physical world. (Read ‘arbitrary and capricious’.) Two: the interval between the ice point and the steam point he divided into 180 steps rather than the 100 of all centigrade scales. Why 180? Because a circle has 360 degrees, which he thought too many, and a right angle had 90 degrees, which he thought too few, so he settled on a straight angle of 180 degrees. (Smirk.)

  13. #13 sonia
    October 13, 2007

    I <3 the metric system and I’m American. Using a base 10 system is lovely.

    And on a completely different note, I find it incredibly funny that a comment above used the word “merkin” as an accented way of saying American. Look up the definition of merkin. :)

  14. #14 Ktesibios
    October 13, 2007

    If you’ve grown up with the Fahrenheit scale, getting a “feel” for how hot a temperature is will require a conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit (which anyone who survived grade school should be able to do in their head).

    OTOH, when I’m selecting a heat sink for a power transistor, I do the sums in Celsius because things like maximum junction temperature and the thermal resistances involved are all specified in SI units.

    And there’s just nothing quite so heartwarming as laying out a control panel in millimeters because all of the components to be mounted on it are dimensioned in mm, e-mailing the drawing file to the metal shop and getting back an approval drawing in which all of my nice, round-numbered metric dimensions have been converted to inches. Oh, the joys of getting out the calculator to check if they’ve got the conversions right and still knowing that I’m probably going to have to resort to a file to make things fit once I receive the finished product.

    Working with, and thinking in, a single system of units would be so much more efficient than coping with competeing systems.

    To the measurement jingoes:

    The units of science and engineering are SI. Science and engineering are what keep the modern world going round. Deal with it.

  15. #15 Elf Eye
    October 13, 2007

    Sonia, I see what you mean about ‘merkin’! As noun 2 in the OED, merkin means “American.” But as noun 1 it means “An artificial covering of hair for the female pubic region; a pubic wig for women. Also: an artificial vagina.” Hope there is no cosmic significance behind the congruence in spelling between these two separate words!

  16. #16 Paul
    October 14, 2007

    Ktesibios:

    Lots of this kind of madness happens daily and costs us a fortune (the estimates are about $1 trillion lost per year total due to our mixed up system). Would you (and anyone else who runs into this regularly) mind logging the amount of time you waste on this kind of mixup and the number of errors (pre and post manufacturing) and post them?

    Some hard data might convince more people that we need to finish conversion some time this decade.

    More than happy to have them on gometric.us, or I’m sure there’s a place for such information on scienceblogs.com

    Paul

  17. #17 Elf Eye
    October 14, 2007

    Paul, wasn’t there a satellite or planetary probe lost because of a metric/English mix-up?

  18. #18 Nick Anthis
    October 14, 2007

    Yes, NASA lost the Mars Climate Orbiter in 1999 after Lockheed Martin gave NASA a thrust value in pounds (English), but NASA thought it was in Newtons (metric).

  19. #19 VJB
    October 14, 2007

    A few years back I read somewhere that only the US and Botswana still used English units. Is Botswana still a surviving member of the Coalition of the Willing-to-use Fahrenheit? A friend of mine in grad school about 40 years ago devised the SFF system of units (stone-furlong-fortnight) where all physical constants came out pretty close to 1 to some power of 10. They were all very negative powers of 10, of course.

  20. #21 Ray C.
    October 14, 2007

    Where does it stop? I guess when we become a Spanish speaking nation.

    There are roughly as many English-speaking people in the USA as Spanish-speaking people in all of the Americas. But of course you’re never going to convince a wingnut of that.

  21. #22 Good grief!
    October 14, 2007

    If we made Texas a part of Mexico perhaps they would stop embarrassing us.

  22. On behalf of the U.S. Metric Association, I congratulate Tim Heller on his decision to use Celsius temperature in his forecasts, and I certainly join with other posters to this story in supporting U.S. changeover to the metric system of measurement, a goal this nation has been committed to since it legalized the use of the metric system in 1866.

    The Public Relations Office of the U.S. Metric Association has been located in Midland, Texas, since May 2000.

    As a pharmacy student in 1974, I became amazed that a decimal system of measurment such as the metric system was NOT the exclusive measurement system in American pharmacy. I always thought this to be a safety hazard. Indeed, the Texas State Board of Pharmacy has reported in a recent newsletter that the most common error committed on prescriptions for children has been a dangerous mix-up between teaspoonsful and milliliters. If U.S. culture was totally metric, our children would be that much safer when their parents give them their medicines.

    For those who believe that the decimal metric system is “foreign” to the United States, let facts be submitted to a candid Nation. In 1792, The U.S. became the first country to use a decimal based currency. America was one of the original signatories to the Meter Convention of 1875, which set up the international recognition of the metric system. Since 1893, the legal U.S. definitions for the yard and the pound have been in terms of the meter and the kilogram. In 1988, Congress declared the metric system to be the preferred system of measurement for trade and commerce in this country. And, since 1999, 48 out of the 50 states (Alabama and New York should do it soon, too) permit products not regulated by federal law to be optionally labeled in metric units only. On a popular basis, who reading this blog is not familiar with 1-liter and 2-liter bottles of carbonated beverages and also liter-sized wines and liquors in our country? And, if you look at U.S. manufacturing, much is metric behind the scenes. Traditional units are just a public show.

    Full U.S. adoption of the metric system would be consistent with our country’s ingenious growth over the centuries. Not only would it not represent any relinquishment of national sovereignty, it would signify a strengthening of that sovereignty by virtue of a long-delayed technical improvement in our society. In education, it would greatly reduce the time wasted on our students learning fractions, and allow them to compete more effectively with the science students of other countries.

    And, for those who think we can’t do it, look at Australia, where I visited in March. That country was fully inch-pound based in 1970, but today they “speak metric” as fluently as they speak English, and I think any American would delight in Australian freedom, energy, and economic growth.

    In a decision taken this year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said that the metric system will be the exclusive system of measurement to be used by the U.S. on future lunar operations. I think we should enjoy the benefits of decimal measurement in the earth-bound U.S. as well.

    Thank you for the opportunity to present my views.

    Sincerely,

    Paul Trusten, R. Ph.
    Public Relations Director
    U.S. Metric Association, Inc.
    3609 Caldera Boulevard, Apt. 122
    Midland TX 79707-2872 USA
    +1(432)528-7724
    trusten@grandecom.net

  23. #24 MikeB
    October 14, 2007

    I thought the ‘metric martyrs’ were all here in the UK. Frankly, I’m at a loss to understand what all the fuss is about. There is no problem with using celsius, and although we must legally use metric for some transactions, in reality there seems to be a mix of the two systems.

    This is certainly sometimes confusing (for instance, I ordered some garden fencing panels and posts today – the posts are described as being 75mm x 75mm x 2.4m, while bizarrely the panels are 6ft x 6ft), but on the whole it works, and most have no particular problem with metric measurements, even though they might also use imperial.

    The outbursts against metric (both in the UK and the US) seem to have more to do with fear than they do with any practical difficulties.
    On the other hand, even the US doesn’t use ‘stones’ with regard to weight, as well as pounds…

  24. #25 Paul
    October 14, 2007

    Elf Eye:
    The sad part is, this happens daily across our country and it’s only the really big things (like the orbiter) that make the news.

    I know someone who works at NASA and ends up wasting about half of his time making conversion, checking other peoples conversions and fixing conversion mistakes.

    We also lose a lot of business on this. If you’re not in the US, all your manufacturing is in metric. Many companies aren’t willing to risk getting a non-metric part from the US so they just skip us all together and our trade deficit grows (I was talking to someone a few months ago where the company he was working for when in Europe had done exactly this, I think the contract went to Japan instead).

    VJB:
    The commonly touted list of countries that don’t have metric as their primary measurement system is: USA, Burma and Libya. In truth, it’s a bit more awkward than that. Burma and Libya are the only other counties who haven’t legislated that metric be their measurement system, but they haven’t legislated that any measurement system be used and they’re more of a mess than we are.

    There are a few other countries (mostly destitute ex-British colonies) who still have random uses of the Imperial system (which in many cases is different to our own, even though the names are the same, as an example the gallon is 17% different). Most of them seem to use Celsius though (the biggest sticking points seem to be miles on the road and pints in the pub, most other things have gone to metric as it’s just so much easier). We are the only first world country that does manufacturing in a system other than metric.

    Paul

  25. #26 stewart
    October 14, 2007

    The US is a metric country, it just doesn’t know it. The Fahrenheit degree is defined in terms of Celsius, the inch is officially defined as 25.4 millimetres, etc. The American system of volumes is not the Imperial system (an Imperial gallon of water weighs exactly 10 pounds, a US gallon weighs exactly 8), which also cause confusion (Air Canada nearly lost an airliner because of this). The argument that inches and feet are the weigh to go because the measurements are more ‘meaningful’ is like the British argument that a pint of beer is exactly right, but a half-litre is clearly too little. For measurements, halving, doubling, etc., I find the metric system much superior (despite still having my architect scales in inches and fractions). Quick, what’s 70% of 3/32?

  26. #27 DB
    October 14, 2007

    Good call #26.

    I don’t see the big deal. You have the option. Isn’t that the American way?

    More thoughts here.

  27. #28 Michael
    October 14, 2007

    A measurement system based on Planck units is the only way to go.

    And decimal? Puh-lease. Senary (base six) is better. Not only is it directly divisible by the first two primes, it has easy rules for determining the next two, plus every prime other than 2 and 3 ends in a 1 or a 5 in this system.

    A balanced form using signed digit representation would be nice as well, but baby steps…

  28. #29 Ten
    October 14, 2007

    I’ve always wondered why, in discussions about the relative merits of the metric system, the units for time are never brought up. I’d like to join some others in suggesting that we don’t stop half-way, but switch time measurements to a base-10 system as well. In order to keep the units in the same general order of magnitude, we could adopt a 10 hour day, with each hour consisting of 100 minutes, and each minute 100 seconds. This would result in a 100,000 second day, instead of the current 86,400. As a result, it would be necessary to shorten the duration of a second slightly, but I’m confident that people would quickly adjust to the new values. :)

  29. #30 Kristen D.
    October 14, 2007

    god forbid we try to learn something new. geez, america, what are you thinking?

    that’s sarcasm, kids.

    and as for the rest of the world not “catering” to us…do you realize how many people, regardless of their nationality, know how to speak english? i remember walking through amsterdam and not one person i talked to didn’t speak at least a bit of english. and the dutch smoke dope. if they can learn upwards of 3 to 4 languages while stoned, i think we can learn to use a system that measures by 10s, especially since they teach it in GRADE SCHOOL. if your 5th grader really is, in fact, smarter than you, then your child isn’t gifted, you’re just a moron.

  30. #31 Michael
    October 15, 2007

    Nice one! Although I must say that I do agree with most comments and in their line of argument want to emphasize that we should go back to degrees Romer as these were the original way things were done up until some foreigner called Fahrenheit entered the free country of Denmark (as an illegal immigrant?), heard about Romer and changed his scale only because he was too lazy to assimilate to the local culture! The same argument by the way stand for the Ordinary Mesopotamian Cubit which should be brought back as to eliminate the foreign, non-assimilated ideas of meters and the such. Scandalous! Why doesn’t any one else see the significance of this argument!!! Ordinary Mesopotamian Cubit and Romer I say! Let’s all move backwards as we move forward, that way we can stay where we are! Hurray to modern times…

    ;)

    Cheers, Michael

  31. #32 Jason
    October 15, 2007

    I always find it amusing that the measurement of Money in the US (arguably the measure held in the most esteem) is in base-10 (metric). It would be a different place if there were 240 ‘cents’ in a dollar…

  32. #33 Marnanel
    October 15, 2007

    Having moved to the US from the UK after 27 years five years ago, I was delighted when listening to local radio online the other day from the county where I was born that all the temperatures are Celsius-only. They just say “it’ll be ten degrees today” or whatever and that’s all there is to it; when I left it would have been quoted on both scales. I wondered whether it was just something that the station had decided on, but a caller phoned in and talked about his holiday in Spain, and said “phew, yeah, it was thirty degrees”. Hurrah.

  33. #34 Nicholas Waller
    October 15, 2007

    As a Brit I have to say I do like miles, pints, stones, feet and inches for domestic, driving and pub purposes, but I have never really understood or got a feel for Fahrenheit, having been brought up centigrade (and I’m nearly 50).

    As for the rest of the world not catering for English-speakers/Americans – even in somewhere as US-unfriendly as Tehran the road signs are in both Western alphabet (in fact English – with St. and Gas Station on one example I googled) and local Farsi script. I don’t think you’d see that in Houston!

  34. #35 Pearl Alexander
    October 15, 2007

    I teach (American) English in Japan. I can speak and read Japanese.

    I have not personally met another American who could speak Japanese properly, even in cases of living and working here for 10 or more years. And I’ve met quite a few.

    It is truly embarrassing to me as an American, and it should be even more embarrassing to proponents of such pompous and idiotic diatribes.

  35. #36 stewart
    October 15, 2007

    I do have to qualify my previous comment, as I think the romantic associations of area under the English system are far preferable to the soulless metric values. I just meed to remember that a furlong by a furlong is 10 acres, so an acre is just a square of a furlong divided by the square root of 10 on each side. Of course, a furlong is 40 rods (or poles, or perches), so an acre is a square that’s about (not exactly, but close enough) 12 5/8 poles on a side. So much more romantic than the hectare, merely 100 metres on a side.
    All together now:
    12 inches to a foot
    3 feet to a yard
    5 and a half yards to a perch
    40 perches (or rods, or poles) to a furlong
    8 furlongs to a mile.
    What could be simpler?
    How many grains to an ounce, again (and which ounce, which pound?)

  36. #37 Mr. Gunn
    October 18, 2007

    What’s with all the xenophobia, anyways?

  37. #38 cen
    January 9, 2008

    The calculation and construction advantage of metric, while an advantage in physics where unit conversion is helpful, is not usually of practical use.

  38. #39 Phil Holub
    February 13, 2008

    The “English is unpatriotic, Use metric” argument has been sweetened with a potential war with the United Kingdom from the recently-approved nuclear proliferation. I think it is a clever ploy to use patriotism to popularize metrication.

  39. #40 Susan
    February 26, 2008

    Wow. Just because Europe switched to metrics – and made it hard on us, we now think it’s easier because everybody else made it hard for US.

    Who uses the English system or the metric system? REGULAR EVERYDAY PEOPLE. We were having absolutely NO problems until all the silly Euro intellectuals started forcing the system down our throats. Do you seriuosly think that regular everyday people say “whew, thank God we’ve got the metric system now, I could hardly function or understand measurements until now!” No, they don’t. Not at all. Everything was working fine thank you.

    After reading the postings here, I am convinced it IS a liberal communist plot, meant to confuse what’s left of our American society and disrupt business, which it has, quite successfully. I hope you are all happy watching America disintegrate. You are all SO smart.

  40. #41 David Marjanovi?
    May 29, 2008

    A degree celcius is also larger than a degree fahrenheit, so the useful range of celcius temperatures weather-wise is smaller than that of fahrenheit: that’s a plus for fahrenheit over centigrade.

    Let me submit that this is actually a disadvantage because it pretends precision that isn’t there.

    (And when it is there — in physics rather than meteorology –, add a digit or two. I’ve measured temperatures to the hundredth of a degree.)

    Again, because people know and use the imperial system, but also because the standard imperial units are more pleasing to work with: feet and inches are usually a more useful measure than a meter for estimating sizes of everyday objects (a meter is too large, a centimetre too small: but feet and inches of many everyday objects can be accurately estimated): take for instance people’s heights, or dimensions of books, rooms, wheel diameters, etc.

    Tssss. The width of a thumbnail is a cm, its area is about a cm2. If you hold thumb and index finger about straight, the distance between their tips is 5 cm, if you spread them, it’s 10 cm, if you spread them really hard, it’s 15 cm. My height is one seventy-five, very tall people are 2 m, very short ones one-fifty. An ordinary ruler is 30 cm long. The distance from your fingertips to the opposite shoulder is 1 m. A not too large step is also 1 m long. A room is hopefully 2 m 50 high, a door about 2 m… and Tyrannosaurus rex was 13 m long! So there! :-)

    It goes on. The volume contained in a cm of a test tube is about 1 ml. And 1 l of water is 1 kg except if you’re a physicist.

    Also, for historical reasons, miles are a more useful measure than kilometers because roads were usually laid out in mile grids.

    In the USA.

    kph

    That’s spelled km/h of course.

    The argument that inches and feet are the weigh to go because the measurements are more ‘meaningful’ is like the British argument that a pint of beer is exactly right, but a half-litre is clearly too little.

    For the record, the Bavarians drink beer by the half-litre. (That unit even has a separate name there, pronounced like the English word moss.) They just don’t stop after the first! :-)

    degrees Romer

    Degrees Réaumur. Three syllables, of which not one sounds like you seem to believe.

    The calculation and construction advantage of metric, while an advantage in physics where unit conversion is helpful, is not usually of practical use.

    Read comment 36.

    Wow. Just because Europe switched to metrics -

    Everybody switched to metric, usually over 100 years ago. Everybody except the US, Burma, and Libya.

    We were having absolutely NO problems

    As long as you stay completely within the US and don’t even look outside — yes.

    Now imagine working in a multinational corporation.

    After reading the postings here, I am convinced it IS a liberal communist plot, meant to confuse what’s left of our American society and disrupt business, which it has, quite successfully. I hope you are all happy watching America disintegrate. You are all SO smart.

    You are so paranoid.

    Where is the disintegration that the rest of the world has fallen into? Where is it?

  41. #42 windy
    May 29, 2008
    Also, for historical reasons, miles are a more useful measure than kilometers because roads were usually laid out in mile grids.

    In the USA.

    When I told a Canadian geography teacher that back home we don’t divide the countryside in grid plots separated by roads, he was shocked. “But how do you know where your land ends and your neighbour’s begins?” -”Well, we go to the forest and see where great-great-grandpa put up the boundary stone…”

  42. #43 MR. JOHN CANDIDO
    November 28, 2008

    THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA SHOULD SUBMIT ITSELF TO A NATIONAL, FORCED, COORDINATED CONVERSION PROGRAM TO THE SI SYSTEM OF MEASUREMENT, AS THE ONLY LEGALLY RECOGNISED MEASUREMENT SYSTEM IN THE USA. THIS ACT WILL BE IN UNISON WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD’S PRACTICE OF PREFERING THE SI SYSTEM OF MEASUREMENT. DURING THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS, THINK OF AMERICA’S NEED TO RELATE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD THROUGH THE METRIC SYSTEM BECAUSE OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE. OVERCOMMING THE CREDIT SQUEEZE AS WELL AS AMELIORATING THE DOWNSIDE OF THE CRISIS, SHOULD BE A TOP PRIORITY OF THE INCOMMING OBAMA PRESIDENCY. PROMOTING THE STANDING OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN AMERICAN GOODS AND SERVICES, IS ONE IMPORTANT MEASURE PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA COULD IMPLEMENT. HE COULD DO THIS BY SEEKING LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY TO MAKE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A COUNTRY THAT MAKES EXCLUSIVE USE THE SI SYSTEM OF MEASUREMENT A NATIONAL PRIORITY. THANK YOU.

  43. #44 Gawa3
    November 29, 2008

    About metric in construction: In Australia they did a demo of sorts, building two identical houses side by side. One was done using imperial, the other metric. The house constructed using imperial tape measures, etc. resulted in 2 containers of waste, the metric house: around a half of a container.

    As someone who does an occasional project around the house, I can tell you that if you know what you’re doing, the metric system is much easier. There just simply much less confusion, much less chance for error (did I just measure 3/16 or 3/32?), and since there are no fractions, many basic calculations and adjustments can be done in your head. And getting competent with a metric tape measure takes about 30 minutes of effort.

  44. #45 Busby SEO Test
    December 4, 2008

    A metric system It was delighted when listening to local radio online the other day from the county where I was born that all the temperatures are Celsius-only. BusbySEOTest

  45. #46 Jordan
    January 27, 2009

    Now yes i live in aus, but im ganna move to america.
    But it does take a while to learn the english system when u grow up learning only metric so give us a chance.
    I dont see why u can just live with them both… really thats so bad isnt it.
    And u american in the report are telling me that u would learn metric if u moved to canada or germany or any metric country . Some how i dont think you would.
    I think it very easy to live with them both and thats what i plan to do.

  46. #47 Takayasu Kumada
    August 20, 2009

    I would like to tell my experience occurred to me some 20 years ago.
    That time was so called computers’s sun rise, when those machines slowly became available in some pc shops. One day I was wandering and scanning in the shop around to find any item which might interest me. Then I found piles of cut sheet paper at cheap cost in a corner of the shop which interested me. But when I found the paper size I was stunned, because the cut sheet paper size was American letter size, which is almost useless here in Japan,where ISO A4 size is standard, which is metric. So, I had to give up to buy the cut sheet paper.
    If US adopted the metric system, it would benefit every American in terms of every life as well as business in long term.

  47. #48 C.lowe
    August 30, 2009

    The Metric system should be kept out of the American culture.

    The hand-eye co-ordination is completely lost
    with the metric voodoo..

    I waste so much time trying to match a socket size
    to the bolt/nut fit it isn’t funny.

    With the American/English system one can see the size
    of the nut and then pick the rightly marked socket.

    Even worse is the displacement measurement of the car engine. Let’s say a 300 CU engine. I can visualize
    300 cubic inches stacked one on top of another. Easy!
    With The metric system try visualizing 2.8 litres (blah!)

    I even like the way horses are measured. 16 hands high
    (a hand is 4 inches) 4 X 16 = 64 inches ,,,5’2″ easy

    Horses hate metric measure.

    Write soon ,,keep America upright..
    Carl

  48. #49 Dentist Richmond Hill
    August 30, 2009

    There are a few other countries (mostly destitute ex-British colonies) who still have random uses of the Imperial system (which in many cases is different to our own, even though the names are the same, as an example the gallon is 17% different). Most of them seem to use Celsius though (the biggest sticking points seem to be miles on the road and pints in the pub, most other things have gone to metric as it’s just so much easier). We are the only first world country that does manufacturing in a system other than metric.

  49. #50 daija
    October 4, 2009

    yes no more celcius!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  50. #51 SImon Stenberg
    December 2, 2009

    Ah, metric vs imperial.

    I live in Sweden where the metric systems is almost everywhere: Celsius is alone, so is kilograms and liters.

    Inches somehow still lingers though…

    In water-pipes and water-hoses and the threads to the couplings.

    4-5 years back I walked in to a construction store and said (translated freely): “I need a 2-inch-4, 1 meter long. Planed.”
    They knew what I wanted instantly. The construction stores measure beams thickness in imperial and the length by metric. But say you want a custom width “cutting board”; back to all metric. It’s insane. And almost everybody is doing it. Computer screens and TV-sets are still measured in inches, (diagonally) but the frame width and height is measured in millimeters.
    Car tires are also a “combo”; rim in inches, width and thickness in millimeter. Not only that, but the rim measurement is diametrical, and the thickness is radial.
    Crazy, eh?

    Well I didn’t come up with it, I just play by the rules.

    /Simon

  51. #52 Nomen Nescio
    January 28, 2010

    ah, time for a bit of thread necromancy i think.

    going on twelve years of living in the USA now, and Fahrenheit is the one silly-system i still can’t get used to. miles aren’t too bad, a kilometer and a half and a bit. feet are just less than a third of a meter, which is a strange sort of fraction, but then they all are in the non-metric system. a quart’s a bit less than a liter and a gallon’s a bit less than four.

    but a degree Fahrenheit just makes no darn sense at all. i can see from the thermostat that my house’s set at 68 degrees, but that still means nothing useful to me. what that fellow was smoking when he picked such a completely weird zero point, i’ll never know.

  52. #53 Mike Joy
    January 9, 2011

    Now, if everybody bought all their goods at http://www.metriconlystore.com, then there wouldn’t be any confusion at all – right?

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