# Metric System vs. Standard System

• Physics_wiz
In summary, many people think that the US will start using the metric system any time soon because Americans are resistant to change, and the Euro has just been introduced in many European countries.

#### Physics_wiz

Anyone think the US will start using the metric system anytime soon?

I can only hope,as your system of units is highly illogical.

Daniel.

dextercioby said:
I can only hope,as your system of units is highly illogical.

Heh, yeah, agreed. The only logic that's preventing a switch is the fact that we're used to it and Americans are notoriously resistant to change.

SpaceTiger said:
Heh, yeah, agreed. The only logic that's preventing a switch is the fact that we're used to it and Americans are notoriously resistant to change.

Even though the Yanks insist on calling it the British system, and try to make it look like it's the Brits who are forcing them to keep measuring things in slug pounds per cubic barleycorn hour.

Bring on compulsory global metrication!

One interesting Imperial unit I saw recently was for calculating the thermal transmission of walls. The unit is BTU/hour/sq ft/cm/degree F.

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Most people don't like change. However, I think if the metric system was taught in school to little kids, they would accept it more than they would the standard system. And then, you would have a generation of Americans who are willing to go with the easier system and whoever is president at that time can say that the metric system will be used in the US without much trouble.

Ahhh my wonderful 50 year plans that never happen.

We need a form of standardization for the physical units worldwide. I am amazed that authors of certain physics books still keep using the non-standard American system. It is ok to put a few exercises to test the unit conversion abilities of the student, but having half, or all of exercises or worked problems with the American units is a really bad idea.
Besides I would add that the system is difficult and illogical. Take the quantity of distance, for example. In SI the meter is defined and all existing sub- or super- units in that system are by powers of 10. On the other hand in the American system there is a weird relation between inches, feet, and miles making it hard to convert :-(.

ramollari said:
We need a form of standardization for the physical units worldwide. I am amazed that authors of certain physics books still keep using the non-standard American system. It is ok to put a few exercises to test the unit conversion abilities of the student, but having half, or all of exercises or worked problems with the American units is a really bad idea.
Besides I would add that the system is difficult and illogical. Take the quantity of distance, for example. In SI the meter is defined and all existing sub- or super- units in that system are by powers of 10. On the other hand in the American system there is a weird relation between inches, feet, and miles making it hard to convert :-(.

Yep, my problem with the American system is that I have to look it up every time I convert. Especially when I'm converting between the two systems.

Physics_wiz said:
Ahhh my wonderful 50 year plans that never happen.
Pfft, a plan aimed at more than the next election? HA!

Physics_wiz said:
Most people don't like change. However, I think if the metric system was taught in school to little kids, they would accept it more than they would the standard system.
The Euro has just been introduced in many European countries. It is a little hard at first dealing with a new currency, but after a year you don't know any better.

If on all the gallon milk containers in the stores all of a sudden would be marked as containing 4 liters of milk, I think people will get used to it soon enough. As long that the two different systems get used side by side for a while, so that people can associate the two values to each other.

I think if the metric system was taught in school to little kids

Thats the only system we've ever used in my high school science classes (I live in the US). Only some "regular" class people and non-science/math oriented people don't know the metric system in my school. Only problem is that I can work out a problem in the metric system but it's hard for me to relate metric measurements in the real world. For example, if you asked me what temperature I think it is outside, I could tell you it's around 70 F but I couldn't really tell you what it is in C without thinking about it for a minute. Same with distance or speed. I could tell you that the car was going about 50 mph but I couldn't guess how fast it was going in kph. Don't even remember what the convertion is for mph to kph off the top of my head. Even though I use the metric system everyday in my physics class, that's just using it on paper, I've never really related them to real life experences.

In aviation, they use standard units. Would anyone want a pilot who momentarily mixes 100 meters with 100 feet?

Can you guys feel how it is like for Europeans to play D&D?

The US was suppose to switch back in the 70's when Canada did. There excuse was cause it would be too expensive. Bet they are kicking themselves now. Cause its going to be about 1000% more expensive to start now.

And if we tried hard enough i bet we could find reasons to blame the bush family.

It would be very expensive to convert the US the rest of the way to metric. Note that it has been partly converted already; although milk is still sold by quarts and gallons, booze and wine are sold by liters.

But to convert lengths will require retooling all the manufacturing. There are metric screw thread standards even! And think of all those signs along the main roads, giving the tenths of a mile; they would all have to be taken down and new ones erected for tenths of a a km (cms?). The laws setting speed limits in MPH will have to be changed to cite KPH (or mps?)

Frankly I don't see the government sponsoring this. It will cost a bunch, and what does it buy us?

I can imagine how expensive it would be for just my company to convert. It would never happen unless someone else paid the huge bills to do it.

Personally, I have no problems going back and forth between the two systems. Why does everyone else?

FredGarvin said:
Personally, I have no problems going back and forth between the two systems. Why does everyone else?

Just minimizes confusion. Standardization is always a good thing. Simple is better too.

FredGarvin said:
I can imagine how expensive it would be for just my company to convert. It would never happen unless someone else paid the huge bills to do it.

Personally, I have no problems going back and forth between the two systems. Why does everyone else?

Conversion would be a one-time cost, but when we start losing satellites (*coughmarsprobecough*) over it, I begin to think it might save us money in the long term. Also, remember that the average person is not particularly good at math. Although you may be able to mentally calculate the number of inches or feet in 6.5 miles, most people can't. Contrast that to calculating the number of meters or centimeters in 6.5 kilometers. I'd say most of the population could be trained to handle that.

The one good thing I learned in track season is that I slowly adopted metric usage of meters... it is so much easier to specify distances in terms of hundreds of meters compared to hundreds of feet. I still have yet to do the same for temperature, though I know the relation for kph/mph but I have to do some mental algebra in order to figure it out.

As Entropy implied earlier, the standard system is really weird, its next to impossible to estimate things and trying to figure out unit relations takes a deal of effort and some minor annoyances.

I still have no idea how to visualize slugs and the like...

Metric system stinks. We should abandon any base 10 system simply due to the lack of prime divisors. 2 and 5 just are not enough. If we cannot have our nice binary/base 12 system then let us all adapt a base 16 system.

You will have to pry my foot/inch tape measure from my dying hands. I hope never to be forced to use a metric tape measure. :yuck:

I agree with Integral. 10 is a pretty lame number to base your numbering system on. 12 would be a fantastic base for a numbering system - it's divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6. Base 11 wouldn't be too bad either - then we wouldn't have to constantly deal with simplifying fractions; they'd already be in their most simplified form. Base 16 is even better than base 10.

The problem isn't the fact that the English system doesn't use a base 10 system. The problem is that there's no standardization between the different systems (12 inches per foot, 16 ounces per pound, etc.). If they at least used the same base, we could just the change our numbering system to match.

By the way, it shouldn't be that hard to visualize how much a slug is. It's about the same amount of mass as the apple that hit Newton on the top of his head.

BobG said:
If they at least used the same base, we could just the change our numbering system to match.

That's completely unrealistic and would never fly. The benefits are just too few. It may be that base 12 or 16 would be slightly better, but it's utterly impractical to change it. We're stuck with base 10 numbering, so our units should be in that base as well.

How hard could it be to garner enough support among the physicians and engineers for a Base 12 system (just for professionals) to at least ensure it's survival.

Smurf said:
How hard could it be to garner enough support among the physicians and engineers for a Base 12 system (just for professionals) to at least ensure it's survival.

Given that a large fraction of the department I work in still uses fortran 77 (young and old alike), probably harder than you think. However, I was under the impression that the thread was about national and international standards.

BobG said:
The problem isn't the fact that the English system doesn't use a base 10 system. The problem is that there's no standardization between the different systems (12 inches per foot, 16 ounces per pound, etc.). If they at least used the same base, we could just the change our numbering system to match.

What, like the metric system then?!

motai said:
I still have no idea how to visualize slugs and the like...
Get Evo to tutor you. They're her second favourite food.

BobG said:
I agree with Integral. 10 is a pretty lame number to base your numbering system on. 12 would be a fantastic base for a numbering system - it's divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6. Base 11 wouldn't be too bad either - then we wouldn't have to constantly deal with simplifying fractions; they'd already be in their most simplified form. Base 16 is even better than base 10.

The problem isn't the fact that the English system doesn't use a base 10 system. The problem is that there's no standardization between the different systems (12 inches per foot, 16 ounces per pound, etc.). If they at least used the same base, we could just the change our numbering system to match.
That still has the problem of converting units. Most people know what 10^2 is, or 10^3, or 10^4. How many people know 12^2? Maybe half (you're supposed to know it). What about 12^3? Less than 1% maybe? How about 12^5? Nobody knows that.

Even computer units are switching over to metric. Companies use base 1000 units; nerds use base 1024 units. When Maxtor says 60gb, they mean 60*10^9 bits. To convert that back into real (non-metric) gb, you divide by 1024^3. Well what the heck is 1024^3? Does anybody in the world know that off the top of their head? I need to get my calculator to crunch that and come up with a real size of 55.88gb.

Basically everybody in the world understands base 10. Nobody uses base 4. Base 8 is called octal, and I think unix is the only place you'll find that. Base 16 is called hex, and only extreme computer nerds know how to count with that system. We might as well go with the system that more than 10% of the world can use.

industry and sciences of course is using metric system, all the rest is not very important. we can let them use their beloved inches, foots pounds.
one more thing: metric system was invented by French and we all know how americans hate French.

ShawnD said:
That still has the problem of converting units. Most people know what 10^2 is, or 10^3, or 10^4. How many people know 12^2? Maybe half (you're supposed to know it). What about 12^3? Less than 1% maybe? How about 12^5? Nobody knows that.
If we used a base 12 system, 12 would equal 10(base 12). 12(b10)^2 would equal 100 (b12).

10(b10)^2 would equal 84(b12) and everyone would think base 10 would be totally unworkable as the base for a numbering system.

And what's wrong with hex. You can count up to 1,048,575 on your fingers if you modify the Chinese finger counting method to be in hex instead of decimal.

The only reason america probably uses standard is because of stupid football.

God I hate when i am working with a wrench or some other tool and i have to find the 3/8ths socket while in metric all I would have to do is use a 10 instead of a 9

BobG said:
If we used a base 12 system, 12 would equal 10(base 12). 12(b10)^2 would equal 100 (b12).

10(b10)^2 would equal 84(b12) and everyone would think base 10 would be totally unworkable as the base for a numbering system.

And what's wrong with hex. You can count up to 1,048,575 on your fingers if you modify the Chinese finger counting method to be in hex instead of decimal.

And the advantage of doing this is?

Do you know what they call a Quarter Pounder in France?

:rofl:

The Rev

I agree with the green people here. I personally see no need to change the current US system, and I do not see it changing anytime soon.

Why be content with base 10 or 16 or 8... let's have something competely insane. How about base pi, or base i, or (for the sake of things) base 0.9999999 ... :tongue2:

Mess with peoples heads and not get anything done by proposing base infinity. :rofl: :rofl:

motai said:
Why be content with base 10 or 16 or 8... let's have something competely insane. How about base pi, or base i, or (for the sake of things) base 0.9999999 ... :tongue2:

Heh, yeah. I think changing the base of our numbering system goes into that huge category of things that sound smart and cool to us nerds, but makes no practical sense whatsoever. Sort of like switching everyone to "natural" units.

SpaceTiger said:
Sort of like switching everyone to "natural" units.
You mean like feet, inches, and yards?