# English Units Are Goofy

Tags: english, goofy, units
 Mentor P: 7,318 You will have pry my foot/inch tape measure from dying hands. For the reasons Phrak has already explained, there is no way I will never own or do I want to use a metric tape. Need I point out that upon conversion to binary .1 becomes something less then nice. Where as the common subdivisions of the inch are perfect binary numbers. Down with .1!
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 Quote by Phrak I cannot see attempting to define the basic unit of length as 1/10,000 the distance from equator to pole as anything but the result of arrogant disregard. (Uncle Marx would have been proud.) Beware of that trap.
Defining it as the foot of an English king is clearly the superior method.
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 Quote by Integral You will have pry my foot/inch tape measure from dying hands. For the reasons Phrak has already explained, there is no way I will never own or do I want to use a metric tape. Need I point out that upon conversion to binary .1 becomes something less then nice. Where as the common subdivisions of the inch are perfect binary numbers. Down with .1!
You do know that the inch is defined as 2.54 cm, right?

My favorite tape measure has both inch and cm. I think that having been a bike mechanic and then a physics teacher has made me literate in both sets of units.

I usually tell my students that a meter is "the same as a yard," if you're just thinking about it. If you're actually buiding a jet, you'll need to be a little more specific.

And take any speed in m/s, double the number to get mph. That won't hold up in court, but when was the last time you said "That guy was going about 82.7 miles per hour" ?
 Mentor P: 2,986 At my work we have a test that requires use of a ruler that is in inches, with 1/10 hatch marks. A metric English ruler .
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 Quote by lisab At my work we have a test that requires use of a ruler that is in inches, with 1/10 hatch marks. A metric English ruler .
There's got to be a law against that.
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 Quote by lisab At my work we have a test that requires use of a ruler that is in inches, with 1/10 hatch marks. A metric English ruler .
NOAA reports rain and snow in decimal factions of an inch.
 Emeritus Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 12,270 I seem to like using the metric system for small things and the English system for big things. For example, once you get smaller than a half inch, I start switching to using millimeters. But for larger things, feet, yards and miles makes more sense to me than decimeters, meters and kilometers. Same with weight. I buy produce and meat by the quarter pound, half pound, pound, but smaller quantities I prefer thinking about in grams rather than ounces. Volumes present a bit of a problem, because common recipes are written with teaspoons and tablespoons in mind, but really, without having an actual measuring spoon, I really can't comfortably guesstimate volume using those measures. Cups, pints, quarts, gallons, sure, those all work for me. But small volumes, I would be much more comfortable measuring in milliliters.
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P: 1,772
 Quote by lisab At my work we have a test that requires use of a ruler that is in inches, with 1/10 hatch marks. A metric English ruler .
Isn't that an "Engineer's" rule, as opposed to an "architect's" rule? I know places like Pratt & Whitney use decimal inches as their base unit. That way it takes only a 2.54 exact conversion to make everything metric.
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 Quote by Chi Meson Isn't that an "Engineer's" rule, as opposed to an "architect's" rule? I know places like Pratt & Whitney use decimal inches as their base unit. That way it takes only a 2.54 exact conversion to make everything metric.
when i took engineering drafting many moons ago, we had something similar called "scales". but naturally, most were not on a 1:1 scale.
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 Quote by lisab At my work we have a test that requires use of a ruler that is in inches, with 1/10 hatch marks. A metric English ruler .
American-made milling machines and vernier calipers typically use decimal inches, in 0.001" gradations.
P: 4,512
 Quote by Chi Meson Isn't that an "Engineer's" rule, as opposed to an "architect's" rule? I know places like Pratt & Whitney use decimal inches as their base unit. That way it takes only a 2.54 exact conversion to make everything metric.
A machinist's steel rule is called a scale. It might be what you're thinking about. They range in length from 6 inches to a few feet. Some are stamped or etched in both metric units and inches. If only inches, you get hash marks every 0.1" and 0.01" along each edge. On the other side are fractions with resolutions of 1/32nds and 1/64ths.
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 Quote by Phrak A machinist's steel rule is called a scale. It might be what you're thinking about. They range in length from 6 inches to a few feet. Some are stamped or etched in both metric units and inches. If only inches, you get hash marks every 0.1" and 0.01" along each edge. On the other side are fractions with resolutions of 1/32nds and 1/64ths.
That must be it. It's a steel rule 6" long with 0.1" along one edge...hmm, don't think I've ever looked at it closely enough to remember what's on the other side. I'll check it out tomorrow morning.
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 Quote by Proton Soup when i took engineering drafting many moons ago, we had something similar called "scales". but naturally, most were not on a 1:1 scale.
That's right, a "scale." I have several neat triangular scales, some of them in decimal inches, one "Architect's" which is 1/12ths divisions (scaled-down feet and inches), and some in 1/16ths. All this from my fathers before me.

My father, g'father, and g'g'grandgather were all engineers. My g'g'grandfather actually was a railroad engineer, back when engineers were engineers.
 P: 2,499 How about a 'scientific' system based on powers of 2 and three basic units: inches, pints and pounds. A pound could be defined as the weight of 1 pint of pure water (pretty close to the current US pound) The notation could be nU|log_2 where n is a positive real number and U is a unit. So 3 pints would be written 3 p|0, just 3 p or 1.5 p|1; a gallon: 1 p|3. A quarter pound would be 1 lb|-2. For distance, one mile can be closely approximated by 1 in|16 =1.034 mi. Or we can just forget it and be quaint.
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 Quote by SW VandeCarr Yes, but they are still historically English. If we called them "American"' units, you'd probably complain about that too.
At least it annoys the Scots - that's the main thing.
 I don't know why the US kept them as "customary units." After the revolution, the Americans wanted to distinguish themselves from everything British ..... Given that the metric system was a product of the French Revolution, I would have thought the US would have embraced it.
It was considered by the more scientifically minded founding fathers (imagine a senior politician with any sort of scientific reputation!) but the engineers were all British and the main industrial trade was with Britain so it was impractical to do anything else. Then when the railways 50years later arrived they used British engines and parts.

Actually for most of the 19C engineering in continental europe was often in Imperial simply because Britain manufactured so much of the machine tools and parts. A little like how electronics is now done in fractions of an inch because of early US dominance in ICs.
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 Quote by mgb_phys At least it annoys the Scots - that's the main thing. It was considered by the more scientifically minded founding fathers (imagine a senior politician with any sort of scientific reputation!) but the engineers were all British and the main industrial trade was with Britain so it was impractical to do anything else. Then when the railways 50years later arrived they used British engines and parts. Actually for most of the 19C engineering in continental europe was often in Imperial simply because Britain manufactured so much of the machine tools and parts. A little like how electronics is now done in fractions of an inch because of early US dominance in ICs.
Interesting. So the US was dependent on Britain for manufactured goods, and Britain was dependent on the US for cheap high quality cotton. Good argument for inches, pints, pounds and slave labor (or is it labour?).
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