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Astronauts Having Trouble With Tranquility Module

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the now-release-your-anger dept.

NASA 300

Coldeagle writes "Astronauts ran into trouble while trying to connect up the new Tranquility module onto the ISS. A critical insulating cover didn't fit quite right: 'The fabric, multilayered cover is supposed to go between Tranquility and its observation deck, but the metal bars are not locking down properly because of interference from a hand rail or some other structure at the hatch.' One has to wonder if this is another imperial/metric snafu."

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why is this article red in my browser? (-1, Troll)

idioto (259918) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137548)

is because nobody has commented? cool, i'll pay the troll toll

Re:why is this article red in my browser? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137894)

Yes

In before... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137582)

Metric is better than Fahrenheit, and USA should get on with the times. But Fahrenheit is more accurate. But Celsius can be just as accurate, if you take decimals into the play.

Re:In before... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137634)

Another preemptive strike: for anyone planning to say Fahrenheit is better because you can think of it as "percentage of warm", I call b/s:

  • Warm is subjective - one man's warm is another's cool, and yet another's hot
  • You can't argue that the freezing point of water isn't cold - no-one would think of it as "32% of warm"
  • Celsius is better because it maps directly to percentage of the temperature difference between phase changes at STP, which is not subjective
  • Since we need to deal with temperatures for more than just weather and HVAC, Celsius is better, because it makes sense for lots of things. Cooking a stew? 85 degrees (almost boiling, but not quite). A roast? 160 degrees in a fan-forced oven. Meringue? At least 200 degrees - twice the boiling temperature of water. Soldering? A bit over three times boiling temperature (320 degrees). The Fahrenheit numbers don't make anywhere near as much sense.

Re:In before... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137878)

At least 200 degrees - twice the boiling temperature of water

Any thermodynamics guy will tell you that "twice the boiling temperature of water" is 473.15 C.

Re:In before... (1)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138276)

Are you trying to get to Kelvin to double the temperature of water? Water boils at 373 Kelvin x 2 = 746 K

Re:In before... (1)

Jophish (1489121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138348)

Yes, and 746 Kelvin is about 473.15 Celcius.

Re:In before... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31138308)

Celsius? Fahrenheit? Who gives a shit? Both are just based around some physical referents. Neither is inherently "better" than the other. Both are equally descriptive of temperature. The main "selling point" is really the number of other folks using one or the other. For that reason alone, I would choose Celsius since more people use it. (And no, I don't natively use Celsius as I was born in, and live in, the US.) Oh, and both are the same at -40.

Re:In before... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137938)

USA should get on with the times.

Sure thing buddy.

You go ahead and provide our government with a thorough and efficient plan on how to revamp our entire infrastructure from the ground up.
Make sure it can be done in, say, about a year, tops.

Then we'll go ahead and fix it, just for you.

Re:In before... (1)

djh2400 (1362925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138220)

Metric is better than Fahrenheit, and USA should get on with the times.

It's not a matter of just "getting on with the times". Yes, the SI system is easier to work with, but there are immense costs in converting every system in use to another system. The government would have to replace all speed limit and mile marker signs across the country, roads would not line up with measured distances, as well as many other things. You also need to consider that every piece of software and every table of elevations and distances that engineers use when building such systems are not in metric. It is not just a matter of using a few conversions here and there; it's a matter rewriting software, referring to old designs, and many other factors. When my government is over $12,300,000,000,000 in debt, "getting on with the times" is the last thing on which I'd want it to waste more money.

But Fahrenheit is more accurate. But Celsius can be just as accurate, if you take decimals into the play.

I disagree with using Celsius; having a temperature of 0 equate to something that is /not/ equal to 0 energy in a system is one reason why so many students (and adults) have such trouble in basic science classes. Negative temperatures are Just a Bad Idea. As I'm sure you've guessed by now, yes, I am in favor of measuring temperatures in Kelvin; it is absolute and its value proportionally reflects the amount of energy in the system.

Consider it from the other side: why doesn't the world convert to Impirial Units? I'm sure no country wants to incur the cost of converting everything to another system.

Metric Everywhere (5, Insightful)

elzurawka (671029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137594)

Atleast in scientific application there is no reason to use Imperial. Metric makes all calculations simpler, and is accepted by a much larger portion of the world, and should be the standard in all science.

Re:Metric Everywhere (-1, Troll)

SittingUnderBridge (1738626) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137624)

How does metric make calculation of fractions easier? Metric makes all calculations simpler

Re:Metric Everywhere (3, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137704)

He means that metric makes prefix-changing calculations easier, even though no one ever does those outside of middle school science classes. And he's assuming that you'll ignore the fact the most real-world calculations involve a coefficient that isn't a multiple of 10 because the physical world is not dictated by our measurement system, even when using SI units -- is 6.67300 × 10^-11 m^3 kg^-1 s^-2 somehow easier to use than 1.06891206 × 10^-9 feet^3 pounds-force^-1 s^-2?

Used by a large portion of the world is a good point. There's great value in having everyone use the same system. Of course there's also an enormous cost in switching between systems, and little direct benefit to anyone who was happy with the old system, which is why no one does it.

Re:Metric Everywhere (4, Insightful)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137852)

He means that metric makes prefix-changing calculations easier, even though no one ever does those outside of middle school science classes. And he's assuming that you'll ignore the fact the most real-world calculations involve a coefficient that isn't a multiple of 10 because the physical world is not dictated by our measurement system, even when using SI units -- is 6.67300 × 10^-11 m^3 kg^-1 s^-2 somehow easier to use than 1.06891206 × 10^-9 feet^3 pounds-force^-1 s^-2?

Prefix changing calculations are used a lot even outside middle school. If you have measurements in smaller units (mL, cups) and need to convert them to larger units (m^3, ft^3) because you have some table which only lists the larger units (for example a table of volume densities of various materials), then you need to do more complex calculations in the imperial system.

1mL=1e-6 m^3
1cup = 0.00835503472 ft^3

and here is when you get the extra complexity.

that's the point. While the coefficients that were observed in the real world rarely match our units evenly, with metric system at least the units themselves are a power of 10 of larger and smaller units.

Re:Metric Everywhere (2, Informative)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138304)

Yes, metric is easier to convert between different types of units (cups to ft^3, as in your example), and often different units within a single measure (inches to miles). This is why it's the customary measurement for scientific purposes.

However, in daily life, it's rare for any extremely difficult conversion to come up. Cooking is an example where it may prove difficult, but when I started cooking as a child I memorized "3 tsp to a tbsp, 4 tbsp to 1/4 cup," and "8 fl oz to a cup, 2 cups to a pint, two pints to a quart, four quarts to a gallon." As I know the powers of two, this means that, off the top of my head, there are 768 tsp in a gallon, which again is 128 fl oz.

Distance can be tricky, but I would say that, again, it works in practice. Also, I'll claim that it's much more interesting (to a certain kind of nerd, at least).

The history of Standard (US Customary) Units of course comes from Britain, and most of them are in some way organic. The foot, of course, should be fairly obvious. The inch has been postulated to derive from words meaning one-twelfth, or thumb. Either way, in English law, it was defined as three widths of a barleycorn. The yard is generally considered to be half a fathom (ie half a "wingspan").

The mile has a stranger history. It comes from the miles used by Ancient Romans, which was exactly 5000 Roman feet (which, with the increase in foot size over time, would be about 4500 feet today). However, the English compared a mile to eight furlongs, where a furlong is about how far a horse could pull a plow before needing to rest. The difference between common measures and measures used specifically for surveying led this to be 5280 ft.

Wikipedia finds it important to mention that Abe Simpson claims “My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!” That is, where a rod is 1/40 furlong, or 1/320 mi and a hogshead is roughly 63 gallons. This means that the fuel economy is .002 miles per gallon.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

BKX (5066) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138612)

I find it kind of bizarre that in a discussion about the origins of and standard usage of units, you used a non-standard unit for fuel-economy. Well, sort of. Generally, fuel-economies less than 1 mpg aren't reported in mpg, but instead in gallons/mile, which would make 40 rod/hogshead = 504 gallons/mile. Holy shit would that be bad.

Re:Metric Everywhere (2, Insightful)

skirmish666 (1287122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137920)

It's also useful for conversion of units - 1,000 cm^3 is equivalent to 1Litre(of water) which weighs 1 Kilogram, 1 Joule = 1 Newton over 1 Meter = 1 Watt Second etc.

Re:Metric Everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137992)

He never said switch between systems,, he said make it standard for science applications.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138370)

Of course there's also an enormous cost in switching between systems, and little direct benefit to anyone who was happy with the old system, which is why no one does it.

This sentence is correct if by "nobody" you mean "everyone on Earth at some point in history except for Americans." It's not like everyone in the world outside the US has been on metrics since time immemorial; they all managed to make the switchover at some point.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137776)

Maybe not in temperatures, but in i.e. measuring distances all names are at powers of ten of a base measure. Inches, feets, miles, are not so regular, in proportion and in names. How many feets is a mile? How many meters is a kilometer? How many different names of units you must know?

And yes, it makes math easier, if you have numbers of different units... a mile + 3 foots is harder to do than a kilometer + 3 meters.

Re:Metric Everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31138142)

And yes, it makes math easier, if you have numbers of different units... a mile + 3 foots is harder to do than a kilometer + 3 meters.

Hmm, no: both are easy to compute: "a mile + 3 foots" (feet?) is... a mile and 3 feet, and 1 km + 3m is 1.003km, 1003m or 1 kilometer and 3 meters :-)

But yes, the metric system is a lot more regular than the Imperial one.

Re:Metric Everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137932)

For the most part metric eliminates the need for fractions. Not having them makes calculations of fractions a LOT easier.

Re:Metric Everywhere (4, Insightful)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137716)

You're absolutely right, but I detect in your voice that you think some people disagree with you. This is something I see a lot, especially from Europeans: the assumption that Americans are actually fanatical supporters of the Imperial system. The truth is, we don't like it (can't speak for the UK, but I suspect it's similar). There isn't anyone in America who actually believes that the Imperial system is easier or more useful. The reason it persists is simply one of tradition, and the enormous expense (in terms of money and headaches) it would take to move the entire country over to a new system.

For example, I have basically no concept in my mind of how far a "kilometer" is. Oh, I know it's .62 miles, and I can usually do the conversion in my head, but I don't have an intuitive, subconscious sense of how far a kilometer is, like I do for a mile. I suspect most people raised on the metric system are the same way for Imperial units, it's just not easy to get a natural sense of the units you didn't grow up with. An entire country of people who don't have an intuitive sense of the units they're using would be chaos.

Re:Metric Everywhere (3, Funny)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137790)

Not to mention movies like "the Green Kilometer" - doesn't have the same ring to it.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137944)

Not to mention movies like "the Green Kilometer" - doesn't have the same ring to it.

I can see my ipod now, "Aerosmith" "Toys in the Attic" "Big 25.4 Centimeter Record"

Re:Metric Everywhere (5, Funny)

epp_b (944299) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138010)

Not to mention movies like "the Green Kilometer" - doesn't have the same ring to it.

*ahem*

"The Green 1.6 Kilometres"

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138504)

"The Green 1.6 Kilometres"

You might laugh at this, but this is part of what made the metric system fail in the US. Instead of putting new signs at point like 10Km from a destination they would put a metric sign at the same location as the imperial sign. So a lot of signs had "16.09 Kilometers to destination". This led people to believe that metric is complicated with the obvious result.

Re:Metric Everywhere (2, Insightful)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138178)

The Green Klick (Click?)

Re:Metric Everywhere (5, Informative)

navyjeff (900138) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137814)

Re:Metric Everywhere (2, Insightful)

dronkert (820667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138014)

Funny as always. Still, 3 l in a two-liter bottle?

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

Da Cheez (1069822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138624)

I find it amusing that xkcd bothers to define -40 degrees Celsius as, "Spit goes 'clink.'" I know it's trying to offer intuitive ways to make the switch without having to reference Imperial units, but -40C and -40F are exactly the same.

Re:Metric Everywhere (2, Interesting)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137840)

I am an american, and I do believe the Imperial system is a lot easier to use. For me. Because that's what I learned from day 1. Do I think it's better? No way. Do I think it should be changed to metric? Absolutely. But the fact that most people would have a very hard time with switch is why it hasn't happened. The only way it would be able to happen is with a (possibly multiple) decade long "dual usage"... That way kids would be taught from the beginning, and regular people would have time to learn the new system...

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137986)

Well, we changed our currency in a couple of years. I know it's not the same, but it hardly caused any major issues. And the Spanish didn't have a nice conversion: an Euro is 166.386 Pesetas. Doing conversions in your head was troublesome!

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138546)

Changing currency is easy compared to dealing with conversions in things like maintenance. "We need some new bolts to replace these old ones on the bridge. The manual says they are 7/8". What, we can only get 19 cm ones? Those don't fit." Equipment in refineries, pipelines, trucks, etc. all have long lifetimes and need replacement parts. I think we SHOULD change over, but it isn't simple and it isn't easy.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31138062)

That is pretty much how it is in the UK. We are effectively a "dual" nation, however we are a Metric nation when it comes to new implementations. Milk can be bought in Pints, however it has to be primarily labelled in Litres. We buy pints of Beer, Petrol is sold in Litres, Sugar/Flour etc is sold in Grams/KG's. Products are measured in mm/m, but almost anything on the road is done in Yards and Miles. Temperature is all listed as Celsius, but almost every weather broadcast translates that into Fahrenheit also. Our currency is pretty much metric to, working in 1's 2's 5's 10s and 100's. We have no quarter of a £ like you have with the $.

The only possible benefit to the Imperial systems is it's workings on numbers divisible by 2, 3 and 4. You can half it, third it and quarter it easily - great when people worked with small numbers all the time. Otherwise, Metric systems are fantastic - its far easier to work in 10s/100s and to add/remove 0's quickly and easily when the numbers get bigger.

Personally, I doubt in my lifetime i'll see the Pint disappear as it's too much of a tradition; both in Beer and Milk. The roads will no doubt stay the same for a long time through cost of sign replacement. Seems quite difficult to see us moving from the status quo we are in at the moment where things are all officially Metric, but the Imperial system is digging in it's heels.

Re:Metric Everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31138206)

I was born in a pure metric country and lived in the UK for a year. I now have a concept of how much 1, 2, 4, 6 pints are - both beer and milk. I also know from driving how far 100 ft and a mile are. However I have absolutely no concept of an ounce or a stone, of a distance of say 1 ft, or of any volume units besides the pint (and the 1/2 pint).

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138084)

Whenever they attempt to introduce metric here, the first thing you see is old ladies on the TV news bitching about the road signs being wrong.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

Jazzbunny (1251002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138224)

Here in Europe most countries changed their currency from something else to Euro lately. Learning new currency took some time but in the end the change from using one unit to another wasn't that painful, and it certainly didn't take decades to learn.

Re:Metric Everywhere (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137856)

Oh well, re-adjusting your intuition to new units of measure isn't nearly as hard as it seems at first, before you actually have to do it. I say this as an european, who not that long ago switched from a national currency to an european one. Back then, many people were scared of the very same thing, but it really didn't take long for people to adapt. I guess it would be pretty much the same for any physical unit relevant for people's everyday lives.

Re:Metric Everywhere (3, Interesting)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138030)

Indeed. I'm an American, but I'm familiar with SI units. If I tell a friend that something is about two meters long, he's surprised, but he understands what I mean. That goes for everyone. Even in the US, people intuitively grasp how much a liter is, how heavy a kilogram is, and how long a kilometer is. We seem to have more trouble with temperature and speed though. I'm still a little taken aback when I drive into Canada and see speed limits far higher than what I'm used to.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138192)

Aren't the speed limits about the same?

Or do you mean the numbers used to represent the limits are higher?

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138294)

Indeed. I'm an American, but I'm familiar with SI units. If I tell a friend that something is about two meters long, he's surprised, but he understands what I mean.

I've seen signs posted using metric dimensions (mainly boats, expressing lengths in meters) and somebody would scribble on the sign "This is America, we use feet here." Probably the same stubborn type that blames anything and everything on those "damned commie liberal pieces of shit."

Some argue that Imperial units work better, since things designed and built are built to nice round Imperial values. The point that I try to make (and fail at) is that if we used metric, things would STILL be designed to convenient increments. That 100-foot wall? Maybe only to 30 or 30.5 meters (not 30.48 meters necessarily). Eight-foot (not a nice increment of anything in itself already) ceiling? An extra 2.5 inches gets you to 2.5 meters. Instead of buying a gallon of milk, buy four liters instead.

I personally prefer metric, since it makes many conversions easier (1000 cc = 1 liter to me is easier remember and calculate instead of 231 cubic inches = 1 gallon) but in the end, it's a matter of what you are used to that ultimately determines what is easier.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137900)

There isn't anyone in America who actually believes that the Imperial system is easier or more useful.
Well unless your buying weed, selling weed or busting weed dealers...

Re:Metric Everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31138420)

I don't know. I use a hybrid system. It tends to go by the gram as the decisive number in less than an ounce, though fractions of an ounce are used: 1/8, 1/4, 1/2. And then it does kind of a similar thing ounce to pound, but that's more imperial. What I'm saying is, if you only mess around with the smaller offerings, getting it by the gram is pretty common...

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137908)

It's mainly educated people. There is a large percentage of our populous that wants creationism in schools and thinks that telling teens to abstain works.

When visiting other countries switching over to metric for time and distance takes all of a week to get into my head. It helps that all those countries are in Metric. So when I want to go from Delhi to Agra. I know it's X km and trains travel about X km/hr, so it'll take X hrs.

It's like Americans that point at manual transmissions and claim that takes too much thinking. After you do it for a while, it's just instinct. If every Weather forecast was given in C tomorrow, it would be 'chaos' for a week. Then everyone would figure it out. Packaged food is already sold with SI units. Grocery store patrons would take all of a week to need to order 2kg instead of 1lb.

After a week in the new system, the only time I have to 'convert' is when I have to explain distances from the USA, but even then 100km/hr is a good speed. I know it takes 5 hours to get home. Home is 500 km from here, no converting the mi -> km.
-
I work for a Fortune 50 company, ALL of our engineering has been metric since the late '90s. I bet most actual companies are.

Re:Metric Everywhere (2, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138140)

When visiting other countries switching over to metric for time...

How are those ten day weeks working out for you, anyway? :-D

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138500)

take all of a week to need to order 2kg instead of 1lb.

Are you sure this switch hasn't happened yet? All those obesity problems sure make it look like it did. ;)

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138552)

Grocery store patrons would take all of a week to need to order 2kg instead of 1lb.

Well, if I wanted a pound, I think I'd order 0.5 kg rather than 2 kg. Why buy four and a half pounds of meat when you need one?

Oddly enough, I've never had any problem dealing with either SI or Imperial. Contrary to rumour, there's no real ease of use difference - it's not like we do our math with sliderules anymore, and my calculator can divide by 12 (or 5280 or whatever) as easily as it can by 10.

Re:Metric Everywhere (0)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137928)

the solution is to convert all signs to say both while that is being done over a period of 20 years to start with 5 year olds and only each them metric units in school. by the time they are grown up they will be used to both. 50 years of doing that. and everyone should be converted quite easily.

indoctrination starting with the young. the dream of every religion.

Think of The Children (0, Troll)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137950)

You are the lost generation. If you can't figure out how long a kilometer is, who cares? Think of the children. Or would you rather have them say, "Well, I have no sense of how long a kilometer is" and hope your grandchildren will straighten it all out?

Re:Metric Everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31138086)

Perhaps it's a THIRD WORLD problem...
The more third worlders in your country, the more of a THIRD WORLD COUNTRY it becomes, i.e. a hellhole, where nothing works.

Anybody care to refute this with FACTS rather than liberal wishful thinking?

Re:Metric Everywhere (Viva Base 12) (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138134)

Europeans: the assumption that Americans are actually fanatical supporters of the Imperial system. The truth is, we don't like it (can't speak for the UK, but I suspect it's similar). There isn't anyone in America who actually believes that the Imperial system is easier or more useful. The reason it persists is simply one of tradition

One thing that Imperial units have going for them is that they better divide by 3 and 4. 12 and arguably 60 make a "nicer" unit base mathematically. Ten is merely a happenstance of tetrapod evolution. A "smart" god would have given us 12 digits instead of 10.
 

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

zoney_ie (740061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138558)

Ah sure it's childsplay to switch over.

Just gradually use km on new road signs. Sure it's no big deal if people get a bit confused as to whether the distances are miles or kilometres. Then 20 years later you can finally change the speed limits to km/h overnight. Admittedly this is a bit of a more major cost/manoeuvre, but sure by now people will just want an end to it all, and most people would agree a mix of km/h and mph speed limits is not good.

I kid you not, this is pretty much what happened here in Ireland. Fortunately, it's all over and done with now, bar the small issue of the north of the island not being metric as it's part of the UK!

We are supposed to be fully metric now, but I think Imperial survives on the railways (mileposts and even some obscure measures like chains or something). Also people use Imperial for everyday stuff like height (although weight is increasingly referred to in kg due to official use in hospitals/doctor), pints (of course it's actually 576 ml - and because Germany doesn't include the head of the beer in their 0.5 litre measures, and we include the head in the pint measures, we can use the same glasses as Germany for their beer) and for meat a lot of people still ask for pounds (although again, it's priced in kg and they'll give you something approximating 454 g). People are switching over to referring to distances in km now, although sometimes you'll hear people use miles especially for made-up distances (ah sure it's a few miles down the road).

Re:Metric Everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31138712)

In Ireland, everything changed from using miles everywhere to kilometers a couple of years ago. It caused no problems for anyone, there was no whine and people got used to it in no time. I have no idea why you think it would be difficult for anyone. How long does it take you to familiarise with local currency when you go abroad? For me its weird at first - not sure what you're spending but after a day or two it becomes normal. Same thing, it feels natural in no time.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

KibibyteBrain (1455987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137798)

Most Chinese/asian made components are metric, but these sort of high tech/super high quality American made components are usually only Imperial. "Scientists" can do their maths in whatever units they like, but at some point they have to use components that actually exist. And even many of these metric parts have fun values like "2.54 mm" as standards... A big part of the reason high quality components are Imperial is because that is what all the shop equipment used to make them are designed for, and replacing them all would be impractical since they are very expensive and now too low volume for a re-investment to ever see returns.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137990)

And even many of these metric parts have fun values like "2.54 mm" as standards

Thats not a metric part, thats a 0.100 inch pin spacing expressed metrically.

Thats like reporting the length of the space shuttle in cubits, then using that number to describe it as a "biblical" spacecraft, since it was reported in cubits.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

KibibyteBrain (1455987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138008)

That's exactly my point. Even the most popular standard "metric" parts in design use today are really Imperial.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137956)

There's absolutely no reason to think this has anything do do with units conversion, that's just a silly strawman.

Re:Metric Everywhere (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138338)

Do Italians even use Imperial units? The Tranquility module and the cupola were both designed and built through the Italians and the European Space Agency. I seriously doubt conversion had anything to do with it. I'm sick of people making such dumb statements as the submitter did without checking simple facts beforehand.

Re:Metric Everywhere (2, Insightful)

CharlieG (34950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138360)

Actually, Aircraft , and for that matter, almost all machine shop work is done in decimal inches (of course except for fastener sizes, which are their own odd 'wire gage' sizes, but are not really added/subtracted), and measurements are usually NOT reduced to feet and inches, so you'll see things like 78.50 inches (and yes, the significant figures matter for tolerances, so 78 1/2 - which yes is sometimes used in old drawings is different than 78.5, 78.50 and 78.500)

So, yes, metric IS easier, but the inch system is not as bad as you think in doing industrial work )and yes, I have scales (what most of you would cale a ruler) that have 1/32nds, 64ths, 10ths and 100ths all on the same scale

Don't these people carry toolboxes? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137614)

Tape? SS wire (what's used for tying down hoodpins on racecars and securing critical bolts) or aircraft cable (used with crimping connectors for tamperproof seals), some velcro bands, rope?
Didn't they learn anything from the apollo missions?

duck tape (2, Funny)

mikey177 (1426171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137620)

it can fix anything!

Re:duck tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137684)

you must mean duct tape.

duck tape can only fix ducks.

Re:duck tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137860)

don't mind him. he's a shill for http://www.duckbrand.com/

Re:duck tape (1)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138196)

Not quite. If at first it doesn't fit then get a bigger hammer! THEN you patch with duct tape and baling wire.

Um, no one doesn't (3, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137664)

One has to wonder if this is another imperial/metric snafu.

Uh, why? Yes, NASA made that mistake once, ten+ years ago. Aren't there plenty of other mistake categories that are just as if not more likely?

Re:Um, no one doesn't (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137942)

NASA made that mistake once [metric conversion], ten+ years ago. Aren't there plenty of other mistake categories that are just as if not more likely?

Probably, but they are not all as entertaining to poke fun at.

One of my favorites is making a latch on the Galileo Jupiter atmosphere probe *almost* symmetrical such that it was accidentally put on backward. It almost caused a mission failure by preventing a parachute from opening. NASA got lucky in that turbulence vibrations eventually triggered the chute just in time. I hoped they learned that lesson and now make parts either entirely symmetrical or too different to "half fit".

The failures and their human cause would make a fascinate book with diagrams etc. Do you hear that tech authors? Example Title: "Space Fails! Rocket science gone wrong."
   

Re:Um, no one doesn't (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137976)

Yeah, this sounds much more like an issue of not thinking through interferences and tolerances well enough. Those problems tend to be hard to find in a computer model, since its all perfectly precise in those cases.

Of course it could also just be that something else was attached improperly and causes everything else to be messed up. There are a huge number of issues that this could be, and I think maybe the poster just has an axe to grind with Imperial units.

Re:Um, no one doesn't (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138256)

The Mars Climate Orbiter crashed because some software loaded data from a file and made (incorrect) assumptions about the units of the data.

Only allowing data to be stored in metric units would likely reduce the likelihood of such a mistake, but it would not eliminate it altogether.

Re:Um, no one doesn't (3, Interesting)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138376)

Only allowing data to be stored in metric units would likely reduce the likelihood of such a mistake, but it would not eliminate it altogether.

            Unfortunately you are about 50 years too late. In the aerospace industry, virtually ALL the data about most components is already "stored" in conventional units, no Metric. Forcing it to all be converted to Metric just creates the problem you are trying to solve.

      BTW, the MRO incident may have *started* with a units conversion error, but the real flaw was with the lack of due dilligence. The trajectory was diverging for months, and the problem could have been detected and solved easily if the normal checks and balances were applied.

        Brett

Hubble (5, Interesting)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137670)

The Hubble misfocusing problem wasn't due to English-metric stuff. A contractor was assembling an optical apparatus and was supposed to be adjusting the focal length to a point inside some hollow cylindrical cap with a hole bored in its center. When adjusting their eyepiece they missed the hole, and centered instead on a shiny point near the edge of the cap that was also reflecting laser light, because the paint had been scratched there. They couldn't get the focus knob to rotate far enough as they would need to get this paint scratch into focus, so they drove out to a hardware store, bought some flat washers, inserted them on the threaded rods holding up the laser, and elevated the focusing section out a bit so they could dial the focus length to properly get the length to the scratch right.

Correct about Hubble. Mars Climate Orbiter however (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137764)

They aren't talking about Hubble. The classic example of an imperial-metric snafu is the Mars Climate Orbiter http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Climate_Orbiter [wikipedia.org] which was lost because the software measured force in pounds while the thrusters gave results and throttled accordingly by newtons. This is not the only time an Imperial-Metric screwup has occurred but this is the most expensive. There have been multiple minor issues in the past on the ISS related to units issues.

Re:Correct about Hubble. Mars Climate Orbiter howe (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137898)

There are two valid solutions to the classic problem of accidentally mixing imperial and metric.

One solution is to use only metric.




The other solution is to use only imperial.


I blame the rest of the world for trying to force their system of measurement upon us.

Re:Correct about Hubble. Mars Climate Orbiter howe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31138064)

You're already using the metric system. It was an actual, global standard before the "imperial" units were standardized. This is why, for example, the definition of an inch (as currently used in USA) is exactly 25.4mm. When you say "inch" you actually mean "25.4mm".

Re:Hubble (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137864)

I also heard that they skipped an integrated (final) test to save money, relying on unit tests instead (like the paint scratch story you give). As we in the software biz know, unit tests are not a true replacement for the real thing. Unit tests merely reduce the problems in the final contraption, not prevent them.

Re:Hubble (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138680)

True but then NASA pretty much invented formal interface definitions, and as a result integration tests of hardware go much smoother than might be expected. And it is only hardware anyway. Its a bit like what my wife does as an architect. She specifies this type of wall and this type of fitting and expects them to work on site.

Mock ups (1)

koan (80826) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137696)

Don't they have mock ups on the ground and quality control for these issues?

Re:Mock ups (2, Insightful)

skirmish666 (1287122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137780)

Or for that matter did they not think to try testing the actual module on the ground prior to launch?

Re:Mock ups (4, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138286)

Step 1: Land ISS.
Step 2: Test Fit
Step 3: Spend 20 years and billions of dollars reorbiting ISS.

Re:Mock ups (1)

4181 (551316) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138686)

Or for that matter did they not think to try testing the actual module on the ground prior to launch?

Lead ISS Flight Director Bob Dempsey was asked that during the most recent mission update briefing [youtube.com] . (He discusses the problem in his initial remarks at 5:00, and answers the fit test question at 12:50.) He replied, "The main reason is the Center Disk Cover that we are installing was on orbit for many years before it could be fit checked on the module. Similar Disk Covers were fit into the module, but not the actual flight hardware, and not exactly in the configuration with the Cupola mated to the Node 3 as well." He later said that "every Center Disc Cover is a little bit different" (while discussing the Cupola relocation at 17:15) but didn't elaborate on it any further.

ISS commander Jeffrey Williams removed two bolts from a Cupola handrail mount which gave just enough clearance to install the center disc cover, but at the time of the briefing the ground engineers were still determining if the clearance was sufficient to proceeded with the relocation of the Cupola to the Node 3 nadir port, or if they should remove additional pieces and delay the relocation by a day. They eventually decide to go ahead with the relocation as is, and shuttle pilot Col. Terry Virts and lead robotics mission specialist Capt. Kathryn Hire will be relocating it in a couple of hours.

Watch it all live on NASA TV. [nasa.gov]

asdfasdf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137740)

you arent a mechanical designer if you dont say atleast once a day: "but it looked perfectly fine in the cad!"

thats the regular excuse to lack common sense where i work anyway

Re:asdfasdf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137912)

Do you work in India? That's the sort of attitude we get from them when their software they've written doesn't integrate properly.

One of the funniest I've seen was when we requested a web app targeting SQL Server 2000. They recommended we use SQL Server 2005 instead. We agreed. They wrote a web app targeting MySQL.

Thankfully, that sort of an attitude would get somebody fired in America or Europe.

#i8c.trooltalk.com (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137744)

copy a 17 Meg file non nigger patrons encountered while

What problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137756)

If you read the article, you'd see that there's no problem.

Not an issue (5, Informative)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137818)

One has to wonder if this is another imperial/metric snafu.

Probably not. From the article:

The $27 million, Italian-built observation deck sports the biggest window ever flown in space. In all, there are seven windows that will offer 360-degree views.

The 11 astronauts aboard the shuttle-station complex opened the door Friday to the $380 million Tranquility, also made in Italy for the European Space Agency. The door leading from Tranquility into the observation deck was opened soon afterward, and that's when shuttle pilot Terry Virts and Kay Hire encountered the cover problem.

So, now even submitters aren't reading the article? Damn...

Re:Not an issue (0)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138214)

I guess it will require some work with a standard NASA adjustment tool [about.com] before any replacement part will fit.

So basically it's just like Italian automobiles, then? :-D

According to NASA, there's no problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137844)

After further analysis of the center disk cover interference issue, the teams determined that there wasn't an issue with relocating the cupola. The crew will spend time today preparing the cupola for its relocation. Source: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html [nasa.gov]

Problem fixed as of Sunday (5, Informative)

chelberg (1712998) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137882)

The problem has been fixed, it was interference by some bolts.

"Late Saturday, the space station's commander, Jeffrey Williams, reported that bolts seemed to be causing the interference. He removed all eight bolts, saying the clearance would be tight but that the cover likely would fit. It did, with some coaxing Sunday."

http://apnews.excite.com/article/20100214/D9DS3UOO1.html [excite.com]

Better coverage? (2, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31137892)

Here's another mystery. Why does the headline link to a story at USATODAY.COM ?

You wanna know whats up with some peculiar internet routing? OK, we get quotes from the guys with hands on the SSH session keyboards right off the NANOG mailing list.

You wanna talk about apple stuff, Woz himself posts here, although all he talks about is his Prius accelerating.

You wanna talk about amateur space exploration, John Carmack himself posts here about his peroxide motors.

You wanna talk about star trek, you get CleverNickName posting, although not since October.

I figure Don Knuth, linus, and RMS probably post here too, although AC.

Here is a very interesting spacecraft story, and we get a hyperlink to USA-freaking-today.com. USA-freaking-today.

Slashdotters you should be ashamed of yourself for slashdot linking to USA-freaking-today, I know theres a genuine NASA console jockey out there whom can post the real goods, AC at least...

Re:Better coverage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137946)

Dumb fucking ass.

Re: Another Imperial-metric issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31137998)

Yet another reason why America should only use the metric system. It's taught in the classroom, but rarely is it used instead of the Imperial system. The most well-known example is a 2-litre bottle of soda. Units:
Volume/Capacity - ounces, cups (8 ounces), pints (2 cups or 16 ounces), quarts (2 pints or 4 cups or 64 ounces), gallons (4 quarts or 256 ounces), ...perhaps more?
Length - inches, feet (12 inches), yards (3 feet or 36 inches), miles (5280 feet or 176 yards)
Weight - ounces, pounds (16 ounces), short tons (2000 pounds - often referred to simply as a "ton" with no idea that there is in fact a long ton which is 2240 pounds, nevermind knowing about the metric ton that is equivalent to 1000 kg and is often known simply as a "tonne")

I don't mind knowing that stuff by heart, but I wish it was as simple as the metric system. Capacity/Volume reminds me of the powers of 2, so it isn't too terrible, but the units of length are annoying. Give me centimetres and kilometres any day! Vehicles already have km/h on the speedometer, so it would just be a matter of getting people used to it. Of course, now is hardly the time for the change. The country would need to replace so many road signs, which costs a lot of money, and the country already has no money. >_

This is already a solved problem (5, Informative)

ChrisCampbell47 (181542) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138020)

Even if this gets modded up to +5, it's going to be buried under a dozen pointless and irrelevant posts about imperial vs. metric ...

From the ISS Flight Director briefing on NASA TV at 1:30pm today:
http://www.space-multimedia.nl.eu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5693:sts-130-iss-flight-director-update-fd-7-8&catid=1:latest [eu.org]
[transcribing] "Crew was able to use their eyes and hands and gave good info on interference along with photos, Jeff has had a lot of hands on the hardware and he's given us the best info. His info allowed us to validate what he's seeing with our records on the ground. Actual interference is just a bolthead, that caused us to question our clearance analysis. We went back and looked at it since we don't want clearance issue when we install Cupola on nadir, and found that we have more clearance than originally expected."

From the Flight Day 8 "execute package" sent up around 3pm to the Endeavour astronauts:
( http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/426345main_FD08.pdf [nasa.gov] )
"Because of your excellent work in checking interferences, we are now comfortable with
proceeding with cupola depress and relocate today!!! Thanks so much!!!"

From the NASA TV schedule, Tuesday:
CUPOLA MLI REMOVAL 10:39 PM EST / 03:39 UTC

After that the windows can be opened, which is what we're all waiting for!

Re:This is already a solved problem (2, Insightful)

Gudeldar (705128) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138474)

This is Slashdot, the articles are just an excuse to argue about our pet issues. Just look at the article about the proposal to create a national climate service. It had absolutely nothing to do with whether anthropogenic global warming was valid or not yet the vast majority of comments were arguing for or against it.

More problems for NASA (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138074)

But its the reports that like to post the problems not the successes, its like there biases against NASA. Tranquillity is the worlds biggest glass out house, plenty to see there and plus there put the gym in there. Its usages to science is probably quite low. But when it comes to space tourism and making videos of astronauts in space, its the businesses. When they get it working, and i'm sure the will. The ISS can boost its film rights and tourism value, to get new heights hopefully enough to keep it in space, for decades to come.

---

Space Colonization [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Cliche mushup (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138078)

"Houston, this is Tranquility Base here, we have a problem."

Actually, when Apollo 11 landed and announced, "Houston, this is Tranquility Base, the Eagle has landed", mission managers were initially confused because they'd never heard the phrase "Tranquility Base" in training. Neal threw that in as a surprise. That teaser, Neal.
     

Re:Cliche mushup (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138314)

They should have aborted. He wouldn't think it was so funny after that.

Re:Cliche mushup (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31138628)

They should have aborted. He wouldn't think it was so funny after that.

Only the crew had access to the abort button and I doubt any of the crews would have used it if they had a small chance of making a landing. There is some discussion in the ALSJ of what would have happened if the radar altimeter had failed to lock after high gate, preventing automatic throttle control during powered descent. Generally, engineers felt that a landing would be impossible and pilots felt that it was worth a go.

And the engineers are probably right. Pilots tended to fly too high, and too slow while the computer saved fuel for a final deceleration close to the ground. If a pilot stopped the descent at 10000 feet to organize the landing he would run out of fuel.

Screwup, but not an units problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31138080)

I worked at a machine shop inspecting oilfield parts. We would get drawings from all over the world. Texas, Saudi Arabia, Pennsylvania, Egypt, you name it. The drawings from the US were always imperial (inch), and the drawings from everywhere else were in metric (usually millimetre). Not a problem. Because our biggest customers were American, we would normally make all parts in inches, but if a drawing from somewhere else came along, one of the first things done was to convert it from millimetres to inches. Every dimension was converted prior to doing anything else. There are 25.4 millimetres to the inch, or 2.54 microns per ten thousandth of an inch. Never, ever had a problem converting. The only problem we ever had was tolerences. In inch, they were usually always there. In metric, usually none were given. You had to guess at what was an acceptable amount of deviation from perfection. You can banter all you want about conversions and whatnot, but from what I saw, if there was a problem with the part, and it doesn't fit, then both the guy who made the part and also the guy who inspected the part screwed up. Whenever we would ship anything out of country, 3rd party inspectors would inspect the part too. Assuming shipping to space is much more expensive than shipping by rail or truck, I would assume that 3rd party inspectors would, for insurance reasons at least, inspect the part as well. If after that, it still doesn't fit, either the engineer who designed it screwed up badly, the drawings on hand are wrong and the previous engineer screwed up, or the guy who made the part (and all of the quality control people) screwed up. There are reasons why you put infrastructure in place to avoid these kind of screwups. You make sure only as-built drawings are on hand, you make sure subcontractors destroy old drawings (so they only build the part as required), and you test-build an exact copy of the iss on the ground out of plastic (or some other cheap, easy to machine material), so you can be certain that this kind of screwup doesn't happen.

Inside Scoop (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31138102)

I work for Boeing (the main contractors for the ISS) and the problem is that the cover will not retract over one of the CBM (common berthing mechanisms) where they wish to install the Cupola. It is actually no impact to Tranquility which is working wonderfully so far. This issue has at this time already been resolved and the Cupola is being relocated to this area, while PMA-3 (Pressurized Mating Adapter #3) is being relocated to where the Cupola used to be. This was done so that the Cupola could face the earth and create all those fantastic views everybody envisioned from the ISS, while being able to be launched in the shuttle payload bay.

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