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USMA: Going the Extra Kilometer For Metrication

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the 3-more-years-until-they-hit-a-hectoyear dept.

United States 909

EagleHasLanded writes "The U.S. Metric Association has been advocating for metrication since 1916 – without much success. In the mid-1970s, the U.S. government passed the Metric Conversion Act, but now it seems the time for complete conversion has come and gone. Or could U.S. educators and health & safety advocates put this issue back on Congress' radar screen?"

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Long Live Roman measurements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442507)

Geez, they got rid of latin, why can't they leave the romans alone, it's as if they want to purge all traces of them from history.

Re:Long Live Roman measurements (3, Interesting)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#42442781)

Don't worry, they're safe. Many American sports cars are using suspension technology [wikipedia.org] that was developped by the Romans.

Cut out the intermediary step. (5, Funny)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#42442519)

Cut out the intermediary step. Adopt the units of the future world superpower now.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_units_of_measurement [wikipedia.org]

Re:Cut out the intermediary step. (1, Informative)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 2 years ago | (#42442605)

Which would be metric (SI) anyway.

Re:Cut out the intermediary step. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#42442743)

no - read the article
5 gm != 1 gm
1.03L != 1 L
1/9 M^2 != 1 M^2 / 10
etc.

Re:Cut out the intermediary step. (1)

galadran (1099427) | about 2 years ago | (#42442651)

Cut out the intermediary step. Adopt the units of the future world superpower now.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_units_of_measurement [wikipedia.org]

Otherwise known as metric?

nope, RTFWA (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#42442699)

taking 5 gm and dividing or multiplying by 10s isn't quite metric system, neither is taking 1.03 L for base volume unit.

you'd better take steps to educate yourself lest our new not-quite metric asian overlords be displeased

Re:Cut out the intermediary step. (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#42442761)

No. Read the link. China has it's own units.

That's nearly one hectoyear! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442529)

What's taking us so long?

Re:That's nearly one hectoyear! (3, Interesting)

noh8rz9 (2716595) | about 2 years ago | (#42442839)

a legitimate question that is never asked - why should the US go metric? Who cares if somebody buys a pint of liquor or drives 65 mph? What problems are caused by imperial units?

0.001km = 0.01hm = 1m = 10dm = 100cm = 1000mm (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442533)

It just makes sense

Re:0.001km = 0.01hm = 1m = 10dm = 100cm = 1000mm (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442573)

Quick with out looking it up how many mTorr in 1 kPa?

Re:0.001km = 0.01hm = 1m = 10dm = 100cm = 1000mm (2, Insightful)

WWJohnBrowningDo (2792397) | about 2 years ago | (#42442621)

Torr isn't SI. And it's spelled "without", not "with out".

Re:0.001km = 0.01hm = 1m = 10dm = 100cm = 1000mm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442735)

Metric != SI

Re:0.001km = 0.01hm = 1m = 10dm = 100cm = 1000mm (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442677)

torr is not an SI unit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torr

Re:0.001km = 0.01hm = 1m = 10dm = 100cm = 1000mm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442685)

Doesn't matter it's Metric. So do the conversion.

Here you go (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442919)

Torr isn't metric. None of metric systems (CGS, MKS, MTS) use Torr as a pressure unit.

But if you insist.
760 Torr = 1 atm = 101.325 kPA

1 kPA * (760 Torr/101.325 kPA) * (1000 mTorr/1 Torr) = 7501 mTorr.

(I didn't look-up any of this stuff. I remember 1 atm was 760 Torr from manometer experiments in high school, and 101.325 kPA from physics.)

Re:0.001km = 0.01hm = 1m = 10dm = 100cm = 1000mm (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42442923)

Approximately 7000? I'm just guessing...

Re:0.001km = 0.01hm = 1m = 10dm = 100cm = 1000mm (3, Interesting)

Kerstyun (832278) | about 2 years ago | (#42442843)

Does the BIBLE say that the lenth Noahes' arc was 137 meter's long? Or hiding you're light under 35 cubac centermeter's? Noah way. Feet and Yards and Cubics and Furlow's are GOD's units.

Re:0.001km = 0.01hm = 1m = 10dm = 100cm = 1000mm (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442913)

"Does the BIBLE say that the lenth Noahes' arc was 137 meter's long? Or hiding you're light under 35 cubac centermeter's? Noah way. Feet and Yards and Cubics and Furlow's are GOD's units."

Your spelling hurts my wiener.

Re:0.001km = 0.01hm = 1m = 10dm = 100cm = 1000mm (1, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#42442983)

So does a system based on 2 and 3. When looking at a given amount of something, one rarely needs 10 times more or 1/10th as much. Halves, quarters, and eights OTOH are quite commonly called for and don't even require a calibrated measure to achieve.

The problem with base 10 as it is now used is that you get forced to an impractical scale right when you most need it. 1/2 CM is 5mm, easy enough, but who wants to deal with 250 um on a construction site?

REPUBLICANS (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 2 years ago | (#42442535)

Is the LANGUAGE od the lesdaioklmew,cx isk fhw feopwls poopola, mommmmooooooeoeooos stank! ROOSEVELVET!

The US likes being different (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442539)

Pissing the rest of the world off is just a bonus.

Lord It's Hard To Be Happy When You're Not Using] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442541)

Track 14 "[Lord It's Hard To Be Happy When You're Not Using] The Metric System" by MC Lars off his new CD "This Gigantic Robot Kills"

LYRICS:

12 inches per foot
Two pints per quart
Why don't we make it easy?
The English system of measurement must relate to history
We can use units of 10 and convert with ease like all the other countries
I am in command yes I am taking a stand from this disease we must be free

Good God!

You're drunk with your tradition that has no validity
Well I'm intoxicated with sports in metrics come drink a decaliter with me
We want metrics, we want it now,
We know we can win
I weigh 170 pounds that's 90 kilograms see metrics can even make you thin

Bam
True players
Atom Goren

Here we go
Verse two okay

All cool things are in metrics
For example here's just one,
I've got my 9 well that's 9 millimeters,
Sounds cooler than my point two seventy inches gun
The president will not exist and they will call me communist and call me scum
But its worth it, Canadians will think we are smart or at least they will think we are not as dumb

You're drunk with your tradition that has no validity
Well I'm intoxicated with sports in metrics come drink a decaliter with me
We want metrics we want it now,
We know we can win
I weigh 170 pounds that's 90 kilograms see metrics can even make you thin

The revolution is here
We must overcome at last
As we symbolically stick their 12 inch foot up their antiquated ass guitar!

I wanna say peace, but here comes the chorus one more time from the West to the East!
You're drunk with your tradition that has no validity
Well I'm intoxicated with sports in metrics come drink a decaliter with me
We want metrics we want it now we know we can win
I weigh 170 pounds that's 90 kilograms see metrics can even make me thin

US Metrication (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442543)

perhaps the people have spoken...many times...

Re:US Metrication (3, Interesting)

flaming error (1041742) | about 2 years ago | (#42442613)

Or perhaps certain campaign sponsors have spoken many times...

Re:US Metrication (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442899)

Yes, the only reason we haven't gone metric is corruption.

Re:US Metrication (3, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | about 2 years ago | (#42442977)

Yes, please, let's give Congress another way to ignore the bigger problems of the day...

You have to have the right selling point... (5, Funny)

ClaraBow (212734) | about 2 years ago | (#42442549)

All you have to do is convince the male congressional leaders that they will gain manhood size once we convert over to metric! 15 is a whole lot bigger than 6 :)

Re:You have to have the right selling point... (1)

WWJohnBrowningDo (2792397) | about 2 years ago | (#42442635)

Don't forget it solves global warming too! Two birds with one stone.

I read this twice, (1)

Volund (1243160) | about 2 years ago | (#42442565)

trying to figure out what this had to do with West Point, before I realized USMA here is an acronym for "U.S. Metric Association."

Boggle (5, Funny)

Tim Ward (514198) | about 2 years ago | (#42442579)

Are the Colonies really still using Imperial units? - thought they must have stopped doing that yonks ago, after losing all those space probes to erroneous conversions between foot-slug-poundals and furlongs-per-fortnight.

Or is it like their refusal to use global standard paper sizes, or basically follow any other international standards - if it was invented in Europe it must de facto be Communist and therefore can't be touched with a barge pole?

Re:Boggle (-1, Flamebait)

Zadaz (950521) | about 2 years ago | (#42442629)

If citizens of Mother England are going to act like assholes like that then yes, the colonies are going to do everything they can do distance themselves from such pointless snobbery.

Re:Boggle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442679)

It is a waste of time joking with USAians, they always take it as an insult and get all shirty. Now I'm off to the pub for a pint, it is only a few hundred yards down the road.

Re:Boggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442749)

I heard a British joke once. It was slightly better than the food.

Re:Boggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442795)

Two Britons walk into a bar. They ask the bartender, "I say, is there a pub in the vicinity?"

Re:Boggle (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#42442693)

I've got no problem with distancing ourselves from pointless snobbery. Except when it means we have to deal with a pointlessly complicated system of measurement to get anything done. At a bare minimum it would be nice to see he use of Imperial units banned from all government projects, and let the shift percolate out from there naturally. Engineers already mostly work in SI, make it official policy and we'll eliminate the last-minute conversions that let catastrophic errors sneak in.

Re:Boggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442769)

If he'd written "you're still ritualistically cutting your feet off in the colonies? How childish", would you cut your foot off just to distance yourself from him?

Re:Boggle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442647)

The space probe crash was a case of someone not labeling units. The same thing would have happened if they were using metric and if person meant dm and someone else thought they meant m.

Re:Boggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442709)

Indeed - we want to become the economic powerhouse the UK is.

Oh, that's right, Walmart has more revenue then the entire GDP of the UK.

Re:Boggle (2)

Smivs (1197859) | about 2 years ago | (#42442797)

We English have come up with the best solution anyway. We are now completely metric - we even drink metric pints of beer and have metric miles on our road signs. (wink)

Re:Boggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42443005)

The metric system came from France. Looks like you lost that round.

Re:Boggle (4, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#42442799)

Are the Colonies really still using Imperial units?

No. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Boggle (5, Interesting)

Tim Ward (514198) | about 2 years ago | (#42442937)

Good point.

I come across this when calculating how much fuel to put in an aeroplane - the bowser dispenses litres, I need to know what that is in pounds for the weight and balance calculation, and the fuel burn (and thus how much fuel I need) is specified in the POH in gallons per hour ... ... but these are indeed American gallons, not Imperial ones, and getting that sort of thing wrong can kill people.

Re:Boggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442827)

Yeah, sorry about losing that space probe. I'm sure your guy's one did a lot better.

We're already half-way there! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442587)

When was the last time you purchased a 128-ounce carbonated soda?

When was the last time you purchased medicine by the dram?

When was the last time you heard car or truck engine sizes measured in cubic inches?

What's the point? (0, Offtopic)

Zcar (756484) | about 2 years ago | (#42442589)

After all, Imperial (in the US flavor) is better for computing than metric since it's at least partially base 2.

Re:What's the point? (5, Insightful)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 2 years ago | (#42442641)

After all, Imperial (in the US flavor) is better for computing than metric since it's at least partially base 2.

Which would, potentially, be helpful and useful if the humans who program, enter data into, and use information from, those computers were also in the habit of working in base 2.

And I'm sorry, as long as there are 5280 feet in a mile - that's 2^5 * 3 * 5 * 11(!?) - I'm going to call bullshit on the computing usefulness of a "partially" base 2 system.

Re:What's the point? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#42442717)

we don't make buildings and machines using miles

Re:What's the point? (5, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | about 2 years ago | (#42442855)

We do make buildings using feet and inches which is a nightmare.
Suppose you need to put a 2 feet 8 3/8 inch window in the middle of a 4 foot 7 3/16 inch wide wall.
How far from the left edge of the wall is the left edge of the window?
(I'll leave the math to you.)

Re:What's the point? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442999)

This isn't really that hard. I don't understand why dumb people whine about fractions all the time.

That's (((4*12)+7)*16)+3 = 883 16ths inches on that wall.
The window is ((((2*12)+8)*16)+6 = 518 16ths inches wide.
883-518 = 365 16ths of an inch of non-window wall space.
Since it's an odd number, we need to drop to 32nds, so that's 365*2 = 730 32nds inches.
Now do the division and simplify.
730/32 = 22 R26 = 22 13/16 inches on each side of the window.

It's not rocket science, and you'd have to do the same thing with metric, but with different unit multipliers.

There is nothing inherently "better" about metric. It's just a different type of arbitrary system. If you don't believe me, explain to me what a meter is and what defines it. Then try to tell me it's not arbitrary and crap with a straight face. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442911)

That's just because you're thinking too small...

[Hint: you're not measuring building height in inches either]

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442929)

I never used miles, but it sure would be nice if there was a neat way to divide kilometres by 2, 3, 5 and 11 at the same time.
There is however an obvious mistake. It it too late to correct this to 2^2 * 3 * 5 * 7 * 11 feet / mile ?

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442707)

You just made that up, didn't you? Or have you actually seen an applications where a significant number of unit conversions are performed, and they're done more efficiently in Imperial than Metric units?

Re:What's the point? (1)

Andux (260446) | about 2 years ago | (#42442995)

I don't know about this "partially base 2" stuff, but having units which are evenly divisible by 3 seems like a clear advantage to me. Why do you think we still measure time in base 60, or angles in 360ths of a circle?

Re:What's the point? (0)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 2 years ago | (#42442723)

I don't know that I'd say it's better, but for most people it's not any worse. That's the truly important thing. Most people have already memorized the conversions they need, so it's already just as easy for them to use imperial as metric units. The only people that a switch to metric benefits are those who have to do lots of imperial-metric conversions, or kids who are currently in school and haven't learned the conversions yet. For everyone else, metric is actually a huge pain in the ass, because they have to re-learn to think in those units. So, for most people, the switch doesn't benefit them - but comes with a large drawback.

It's really not hard to see why the US isn't in a hurry to switch. And as one of the people for whom a switch to metric would be nuisance rather than benefit, I hope they never do (or at least, not in my lifetime).

Re:What's the point? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#42442753)

That's great, except that computers don't care - they'll do the math out to the limit of their numerical representation regardless, and probably all in a single standard unit, with no loss in speed whether the answer is 1 or 1.0012846235284624. Meanwhile the humans who can't do high-precsion math in their head have to deal with all sorts of wonky conversion factors, as well as potentially making I/O more annoying (you want me to convert my nice clean 3.26478 mile value to miles, feet, and inches before displaying it? Really?)

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442873)

Oh really.

12 Inches per Foot
3 Feet per Yard
22 Yards per Chain
10 Chains per Furlong
8 Furlongs per Mile
3 Miles per League

I'm sorry, but your fucking retarded if you think that plays nice with base 2. I've never even seen anyone measure by Chains or Furlongs unless it was a geek joke, and most people don't even know League is an actual measurement.

Metric system on the other hand: multiple by 10 to go up, divide by 10 to go down. On top of that log10 pretty easy to do with bit manipulation when the instruction is not present for it.

Re:What's the point? (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about 2 years ago | (#42442941)

After all, Imperial (in the US flavor) is better for computing than metric since it's at least partially base 2.

Base 10 is partially base 2 as well, 10 = 2x5. So metric is as good as imperial unit, by your logic.

The English system is more relevant to modern ways (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442617)

The metric system was designed in an area before calculators and computers to enable easy computation and conversions. With modern technology, that impetus has largely disappeared.
In contrast, the English system of linear measurements was based largely on the human body lending itself to measurements in human terms without the aid of measurement devices. That is still useful, particularly for craftsmen, designers, and builders.
Why change that now?

Re:The English system is more relevant to modern w (3, Insightful)

Great Big Bird (1751616) | about 2 years ago | (#42442765)

Do you really want to be able to have a calculator around? When I need to consider units, it is absurdly easy to convert them. Do you realize that the United States does not use the English system? It uses the United States customary units (variations exist between it and the English system). 'Imperial' in fact has no many variations around the world. I think the best reason to change it, is because it is one of only three countries in the world that doesn't use the SI system. For the world to interact with the United States it would be much easier if everyone used SI.

gradual transition; average people (5, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | about 2 years ago | (#42442627)

Ths slashdot summary doesn't seem to be based closely on the linked articles:

but now it seems the time for complete conversion has come and gone.

The linked articles don't discuss a "cold turkey" government-mandated switch to metric (which was never a realistic possibility given the nature of American culture and politics). They discuss incremental government-mandated measures. Some of these measures have already been carried out: requiring food labeling to be in both US and metric. Some have been stalled legislatively: eliminating the US units from food labeling.

It would be great if we could get road signs to be switched over to dual units. E.g., congress could pass a law saying that on the interstate system, any time an old sign is replaced with a new one, it has to have dual units.

These incremental measures would be incredibly easy, and would require no new taxes or increase in government regulation (just changes to existing regulations). That's why it's so pathetic that the pace of implementing these measures has been so slow.

I teach physics at a community college. My students are a bell curve, extending from folks who are very bright and will transfer to elite four-year schools, all the way down to people who really shouldn't be in college. The bottom half of this bell curve is probably pretty representative of the population of the US.

Some characteristics of people in this range: (1) They tend not to understand at the conceptual level what the operations of multiplication and division are about. (2) They tend not to have any habit of checking whether their answers make sense in order of magnitude. (3) When they learn some new mathematical concept, they memorize it as a rote procedure, and therefore when they don't use it for a month, they forget it completely.

My students are mostly science majors, so they end up developing some facility with the metric system, but it's an uphill climb. For most people, what happens is that they learn the metric system in grade school, and then they never use it in everyday life, so they forget it completely and utterly.

Re:gradual transition; average people (1)

rjr162 (69736) | about 2 years ago | (#42442849)

"It would be great if we could get road signs to be switched over to dual units. E.g., congress could pass a law saying that on the interstate system, any time an old sign is replaced with a new one, it has to have dual units."

If I recall correctly, they tried this in the past (the 70's?) and for whatever reason switched it back to just MPH

Re:gradual transition; average people (3, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#42442863)

It would be great if we could get road signs to be switched over to dual units. E.g., congress could pass a law saying that on the interstate system, any time an old sign is replaced with a new one, it has to have dual units.

I guess I'm pretty old, since I remember when we tried this.

Cheers on New Years! (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#42442643)

They'll never take my pints.

Re:Cheers on New Years! (1)

arielCo (995647) | about 2 years ago | (#42443015)

You may find consolation in a half-liter being slightly more :-)

  In the UK it doesn't matter since they held onto their pint and standardized the hell out of it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pint_glass#United_Kingdom_law [wikipedia.org]

Madness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442689)

I have no idea why we in the US steadfastly refuse to convert to metric. Seems like that would have been an excellent economic stimulus - every one from sign painters to surveyors to engineers would have been given work, it would have been a nationwide initiative, and the nation would be far more competitive economically afterwards.

Oh well.

Cost? (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | about 2 years ago | (#42442695)

There would be so much to change that the cost would prevent it - just think of how many road signs there are for example.

Re:Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442791)

The amortized cost of doing it when you are naturally switching out old signs or putting up new ones should be very low.

Gasoline prices in liters at the pumps (3, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#42442705)

When they tried pricing gasoline in liters at the pump in the 70's, folks were convinced that it was just a big scam to jack up the prices. They were probably right. And in the 70's we were going through the OPEC crisis, as well. That didn't help.

The same thing happened in Europe with the introduction of the Euro. Folks perceived everything as being more expensive.

If these folks want the metric system in the US to succeed, they had better think up a good solution for this problem.

Re:Gasoline prices in liters at the pumps (3, Interesting)

cpghost (719344) | about 2 years ago | (#42442845)

The same thing happened in Europe with the introduction of the Euro. Folks perceived everything as being more expensive.

It was not just a perception, things actually got a lot more expensive. For example, in Germany, the conversion rate was 1.95 DM to 1 Euro, but nominal prices remained approximately the same. Something that used to cost 5 DM suddenly cost 5 Euro. Of course, it was a 100% price hike. That's why they call Euro "Teuro", short for "Expensivo."

Re:Gasoline prices in liters at the pumps (2)

cdh (6170) | about 2 years ago | (#42442861)

They switched pumps to liters in the 70s due to the oil crisis driving prices up. Most pumps at the time couldn't show more than $0.999 per gallon, so they switched to liters (or half gallons) to keep the pumps working.

Re:Gasoline prices in liters at the pumps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442951)

These days I rarely hear people complain about stuff being more expensive because of the Euro. It seems there is already a good solution for this problem: people are always going to moan and bitch about change, so either go for a very short transition period (so people will quickly accept the change) or a slow but steady transition (where people don't really notice the change).

A slow transition doesn't really make sense in this context; as long as the old units are available people will use those even if you include the new unit on labels, and switching one unit at a time would be insanity, so just switch everything at once and get it over with.

moot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442711)

We already use the metric system, where people find it convenient. Anyone even starting down the path of engineering is likely to never even touch imperial. There are notable exceptions where isolated idiots muck things up(that nasa incident comes to mind) but do not confuse the mistakes of the few with a policy the whole society follows; we use metric. The only places it isn't used is where the cost of adoption aren't worth it. Measurements for travelling, cooking, weather temperature and small craftswork have no convincing reason to be changed. The narcissistic need to do things 'my way' are the only real driver as you can see from the bitter derision aimed at people who say they are 5'10'' and 160 pounds rather than use the metric units.

stupid observation... (5, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | about 2 years ago | (#42442721)

I had to equip my shop, and among other things picked up a set of socket wrenches, in both SAE and metric sizes. One thing I noticed, though, was that the socket drives were all in English measurements (1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 3/4") and that there were no metric-drive sets around anywhere. Just curious, are there any metric drive standards in Europe, and why haven't they found their way to the US? I'd expect at least some metric size sets from China to sneak in...

Re:stupid observation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442751)

They are available in any retail store that sells tools.

Re:stupid observation... (1)

larppaxyz (1333319) | about 2 years ago | (#42442881)

I would like to add that thet are available in ANY retail store that sells anything related to tools. Common sizes are 8mm, 10mm and 12mm for example.

Re:stupid observation... (2)

rjr162 (69736) | about 2 years ago | (#42442887)

Oh are they now?

http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/catalog1.asp?tool=hand&Cat_ID=629030&Cat_NAME=Ratchets&store=snapon-store

If you'd find one, Snap On would be the place.. yet there's none there except a 11mm internal hex drive

Re:stupid observation... (1)

rjr162 (69736) | about 2 years ago | (#42442895)

Unless you had meant in Europe, in which case ignore my post :)

Re:stupid observation... (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 2 years ago | (#42442831)

I agree. It is a pain in the neck to maintain a set of SAE and metric tools. The next part is to figure out which one to use. Is this car SAE or metric? or is it a mixture of both?

Leave the units alone (1, Insightful)

ugen (93902) | about 2 years ago | (#42442757)

What exactly is gained by change in units? As a metric "native" I can tell you that metric units are not based on real-world criteria. There is no way to naturally define an "approximate" centimeter or a gram (as opposed to approximate inch, foot or ounce, for example).

Metric units primary convenience in common use is to make shorthand in writing easier by avoiding decimal point or additional places of 0 and replacing them with predefined short prefixes. I suppose it may be useful to those who have good memory for greek-derived words but can't multiply or divide by 10, but are these people a majority? There are more convenient unit conversions when it comes to scientific use, but as far as I can tell, scientists do use metric quite universally.

More importantly - if you like metric system, just use it. I can't think of many (any?) products sold in US that are not dual-labeled. Virtually everything has either both imperial and metric weight/size etc. marked on it, or sold in metric and imperial versions. If metric system is superior in day-to-day life - market will no doubt prefer it without the need for government intervention.

Re:Leave the units alone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442975)

1 cubic cm (cc) of water has a mass of 1 gram
water freezes at 0C and boils at 100C... add 273 offset to that, you get Kevin.

Bizarre metric spotting in US (3, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | about 2 years ago | (#42442775)

A few years ago I was driving on a road somewhere south of Raleigh NC (route 1 somewhere between Raleigh and Southern Pines ) and my jaw dropped when I noticed a short stretch of the road had distances marked in km. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to why this one bit of road in the middle of nowhere was marked that way.

Re:Bizarre metric spotting in US (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442973)

Was there a factory nearby? I seem to recall stories of states trying to lure foreign manufacturers (automobile mostly) with gimmicks like metric mileage markers. Of course, they wouldn't redo all the signs in the state, only the ones between the airport and the proposed factory site.

gol darn Borg (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 2 years ago | (#42442777)

give 'em an inch, and they'll take over 2 kilometers.

stick to just parts of the government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442809)

Fact is, the general public will continue using the customary system for a long time.

What should be focused on, is converting various branches of the government that do not deal with the general public into metric, such as the military, and NASA. This has already partially happened. The automobile industry has gone metric.

Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442833)

Who cares whether you're 100 feet deep in shit or about 30 metres?

Petition on We the People (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442837)

For the fun of it I put a petition up on the White House's website. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/finish-implementing-metric-conversion-act-1975-country-can-rest-world-use-metric/jB0xMlmP Who knows it may go somewhere, but it would be interesting to see how many Americans would be for this.

the market has spoken! (1)

ronpaulisanidiot (2529418) | about 2 years ago | (#42442853)

and it gets a big friggin' hard-on from making all the other countries in the world convert their export measurements to our archaic system. those who expect us to change can take their metric rulers and shove 'em 3m up their own asses.

1 Mile = 1609.344m (1)

ACELLC (1612841) | about 2 years ago | (#42442859)

So you'd actually be going the extra 1.609344 Kilometer.

Non-metric units easier for humans (0)

caseih (160668) | about 2 years ago | (#42442877)

This is a highly subjective thing as you can get used to whatever you have been taught. I was taught in metric, but I'm also familiar with American units. I find metric vastly superior for math and science purposes, owing to the ease of conversion between units.

However, the problem with metric is that for the everyday things, metric units just aren't convenient nor easy for humans to estimate. For example, the centimetre is really too small to be useful for estimating dimensions, and the metre is too big for small things, like rooms, desk dimensions. A decimetre may work, but even that is a bit too big of a unit. An inch is just about right for many things, though. Likewise, for intermediate distances, feet vs metres. I submit it's easier to estimate one's own height in feet and inches than it is to use metres.

For other things like roads and fields (I happen to farm right now), the land was surveyed years ago in miles and acres. That's unlikely to ever change in Canada or the US. Grid roads are in miles here in Canada. After 150 years, we're really good at estimating in miles. Not so great in KM.

All this said, American science courses, from my experience, use metric in the worse possible way. So it's no wonder Americans grow up with a distaste for it in their minds. In college I remember doing physics where the inputs and calculations were all done in metric, and then they wanted the final answer in some bizarre mix of metric and imperial units. Granted I farm now and everything I do seems to end up in metric units per acre. ahh well.

Re:Non-metric units easier for humans (1)

caseih (160668) | about 2 years ago | (#42442917)

Replying to my own post here. Another good example of where metric units don't work out so well is estimating distance by pacing. Most people don't have a yard or metre-long average stride. I can do metre-long strides, but I have to pace rather unnaturally and with very long steps. My average stride, and most people's actually, is closer to two feet. So is it easier to count paces and multiply by two, or count paces and multiply by 2 and divide by 3?

Of course in this day and age people don't pace off distance or estimate dimensions, so all of this argument is likely moot. Google Earth can do dimensions in either unit!

U.S Military mostly metric (4, Interesting)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 2 years ago | (#42442879)

The U.S. Military is almost completely metric. They made a great leap when they switched 5 gallon water cans to 20 liters, which were one of the big hold outs. Still weighing aircraft fuel in pounds, and speed limits are miles per hour, but they are moving forwards. At least we only need one tool set now.

We are metric, we just don't know it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442947)

Everything on grocery store shelves is labeled in metric.
Cars are built with metric nuts and bolts and have been since the mid-70s.
The National Weather Service posts temps in F and C.
A few states post speed limits in both mph and kph; Congress should withhold federal highway funds from the states that don't until they do.
What else is left to do, other then convince the average yob on the street to actually use it? Heck, the Brits still sell beer in pints – if they can't be convinced, why does anyone expect us to be much different?

But–– Kids go through 12+ years of school being taught with American/Imperial units for the most part. Except for those who join the military, where I'm told metric is used extensively, most people just don't get that much exposure to it. We have No Child Left Behind, where the feds have dictated how states will teach – they could just as easily dictate that metric be used exclusively in schools. (And then the usual tea bagger knobs will complain about federal government sticking its nose in where it doesn't belong, big government, blah de blah de blah.)

Computers and calculators killed metrification... (0)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 2 years ago | (#42442959)

The main justification for preferring the metric system over the 'english' system, at least for everyday non-technical use, was that the metric units were generally in multiples of 10 and were therefore easier to mentally manipulate to convert between mass, volume, and length. Now, with digital helpers everywhere, the ease of managing unit conversions is irrelevant and the impetus for changing to the metric system is gone. Moreover, we like the familiarity of our psi, pounds, degrees fahrenheit, miles per gallon, ounces, and teaspoons, etc for everyday use. Scientists and the military switched over to metric units years ago.

Metric Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442965)

I simply don't see the point in adopting a "standardized" system that is still unable to metricize time measurements. I'll accept the Metric system when they give us 10 second minutes, 10 minute hours, 10 hour days, 10 day weeks, 10 week months, and 10 month years.Until then, its just an elitist hypocrisy.

Money (1)

assertation (1255714) | about 2 years ago | (#42443001)

If American companies used the same units of measurement as most of the rest of the world I would guess that would lead to more sales.

The metric system is also used by the sciences and science leads to MONEY.

I was fortunate enough to be a small child in the 70s. I learned the metric system in elementry school and it helped me greatly in my science classes.

I never learned the standard American system until I studied architechture in college.

The metric system is much, much easier to use.

Great way to hide food inflation (1)

cpm99352 (939350) | about 2 years ago | (#42443007)

I'm surprised we haven't seen a push since food manufacturers are already repacking in smaller units to hide inflation. Remember when salami, chocolate, ice cream and coffee were purchased by the pound?

If we switch to metric the confusion would probably so great as to mask even smaller package sizes.
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