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.5 x .5 = .25 square inches

1.27 x 1.27 = 1.6129 square centimeters

What puzzles me is the fact that when using inches, the lengths of the sides are bigger than the area. But when you switch to centimeters, the sides are smaller than the area, just as you would expect when dealing with numbers that are greater than one. So you have a reversal of the usual behavior of numbers in my example, and yet they are still equivalent. Somehow it works out, but it doesn't make sense to me how that is possible. What is going on here? Am I missing something?