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Metric System in the US

  1. Dec 4, 2008 #1
    There is a lot of talk from the rightist talking head on America being a center right country. If all of a sudden they wish to impose European political spectrum definition as the standard, could we do something about the Imperial system as well?
     
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  3. Dec 4, 2008 #2

    Office_Shredder

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    Re: Election 2008 postmortem

    No we can't. I don't want to pay to replace who knows how many speed limit signs and mileage indicators
     
  4. Dec 4, 2008 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Re: Election 2008 postmortem

    The US has been officially metric since the 1970's. (As hard as it is to believe!)
     
  5. Dec 4, 2008 #4

    Evo

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    Re: Election 2008 postmortem

    Yep, that's why soda is sold in 2 liter bottles, and the reason I have to hold my measuring cups backwards to measure in "cups". :grumpy:
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  6. Dec 4, 2008 #5

    lisab

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    Re: Election 2008 postmortem

    You could buy left-handed measuring cups (do they even make them?).
     
  7. Dec 4, 2008 #6

    Office_Shredder

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    The US has been officially metric since the late 1800s, but nobody cared
     
  8. Dec 4, 2008 #7
    Re: Election 2008 postmortem

    same here. there is nothing magical about kilometers. they don't improve your economy. they don't make your children brighter. unless you're doing engineering or physics, etc., metric isn't really an advantage. in fact, F is a better scale for the weather than C.
     
  9. Dec 4, 2008 #8

    BobG

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    How so? Do you really care whether it's -40 F or -45 F? At least there's a real difference between -40 C and -45 C? You can work outside for up to 30 minutes at -40 C, but all outside work should cease at -45 C. (from Candian Centre for Occupation and Health Safety) Personally, I think we should use Kelvin. 230 degrees K is warmer than -45 degrees C.

    The metric system makes it a lot easier to resist using obnoxiously large numbers just because no one wants to have to convert from miles to feet. Do you really want to deal with a geosynchronous satellite that's over 117408579 feet above the surface of the Earth? That's like 9 digits you have to keep track of. Knowing the satellite's altitude is only 35786.135 kilometers above the Earth is a lot easier - it's only 8 digits and they stick a decimal point somewhere near the middle so all the numbers don't run into each other in a muddle.

    Or, if not the metric system, we could at least switch to a base 60 system. It would make everything more compatible with hours, minutes, seconds and degrees, minutes, seconds.
     
  10. Dec 4, 2008 #9
    Re: Election 2008 postmortem

    F has nearly twice as much resolution as C. most people don't work at -45, so that example is specialized and shouldn't be used when you're thinking of public policy and what most people need. K has the same resolution problem as C. you could list C/K in decimal fractions, but that just makes it more cumbersome. for most applications that involve human habitation, F is a superior scale. 0 to 100 F is where we exist for the most part.

    or 22236.473 miles. or 2.8053914 equatorial diameters. let's just use earth diameters, that's easier to picture.

    base 2, it should be easier for our computer-generation kids. think how easy it would be to just break down an inch into 1/2's, 1/4's, 1/8's, 1/16's. surely someone sharp could even come up with a similar system for volume measures. :shy:
     
  11. Dec 5, 2008 #10

    BobG

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    Re: Election 2008 postmortem

    Or earth radii. If people were more familiar with radii, measuring angles in radians would feel more natural.

    It would work well in football games, as well. I once watched a high school football game where a team had 3rd and 8.6 microradii once*. Incredibly, the quarterback scrambled 11.8 microradii for a touchdown.

    *On the previous play, a touchdown run was called back for an illegal block in the back by the quarterback, no less. The quarterback yelled at the referee about the call, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which prompted the coach to start yelling at the ref, resulting in a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. They managed to get penalized more than half the distance to their own goal line on one play.
     
  12. Dec 5, 2008 #11

    mgb_phys

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    By keeping the imperial system you make it easy for the British to take over.
    As soon as Obama introdues a 5min waiting period for multiple assault rifles the Redcoats will be back.

    The USA should adopt the furlong/fortnight/firkin system.
     
  13. Dec 5, 2008 #12
    i had to look up the firkin, but i like it. kegs are also a good measure.
     
  14. Dec 5, 2008 #13

    turbo

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    If we used furlongs/fortnight as a measure of speed, our cars would be incredibly fast - right?
     
  15. Dec 5, 2008 #14

    mgb_phys

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    And they would get 3000 furlongs per firkin
     
  16. Dec 5, 2008 #15

    turbo

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    Would I have to buy gas by the firkin? That extra 9/10s of a cent per firkin would really hurt, huh?
     
  17. Dec 5, 2008 #16

    wolram

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    Us Brits use the TAX method of measurement.
     
  18. Dec 9, 2008 #17

    Borek

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    I know it will sound like I am biased, but this is honest question from someone living from the very beginning in the metric world. Is it really convenient to calculate things like "add 3 feets 7 inches to half of 5 feets and 1 inch"? Isn't it much easier to do such calculations using meters and centimeters? Isn't it cheaper - in terms of time and errors?

    I assume such things are routinely calculated in many places, you may need a correct length plank, tube or wire, you may want to land on Mars (OK, the last one was biased). Not all mistakes are as costly as the last one listed, but each one counts.
     
  19. Dec 9, 2008 #18

    Office_Shredder

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    The mars probe crashed because NASA was using the metric system and a company that was contracted was using English units. If everyone used English units it wouldn't have happened. We should ban use of the metric system in the US
     
  20. Dec 9, 2008 #19

    turbo

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    I had a physics professor in 1970 that said that if we tried to express results in the English system, he would flunk us. He used the example of expressing speed in "furlongs per fortnight" to illustrate his ban. He also said that if we used the word "analyze" in a quiz, test, or homework turn-in, that particular answer would get a ZERO even if the entire answer was correct. That might have been a bit over-the-top, but hell - he was god.
     
  21. Dec 9, 2008 #20
    i actually think SI units are superior for physics or engineering calculations, no argument there. i might have actually remembered some of my thermodynamics course if we had actually stuck to one measurement system instead of doing everything in both.

    but most people will never need, nor care, that a gram, ml, and cm^3 of water are the same thing.
     
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