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View Full Version : Whats the deal in USA with 1 litre soda pop, is USA on metric?


Dandmb50
08-20-2002, 09:23 PM
I live in Toronto, Canada and we use metric measurement. And I understood that the US opted out and continue to use the imperial measurements.

Then can someone tell me why I see soda pop/mouthwash being sold in litre bottles in the USA?

Is it a way for the manufacturers of these products to gough the public for more money by confusing them with the size by using something that they are not familar with? :confused:

syncrolecyne
08-20-2002, 09:28 PM
If so, we have had a 20 year warming up process. Soda has been sold by the liter for a long time.

For some reason companies have decided to see soda by the liter and milk by the quart or gallon. It probably lies with the industry standards and not with any overall government policy. I was in elementary school in the early 1980's and I remember being told that by the year 2000, the United States would be a metric oriented society. It hasn't happened yet.

Mr. Moto
08-20-2002, 09:32 PM
America is doing it just right. We use measurements that make sense for what we're measuring.

Gallons works really well for gasoline, and we know instinctively how far a mile is. We don't need to do math in our heads to figure it out.

Dieters understand fat grams. And conservative NRA members such as myself know how big a 9 mm bullet is.

It so happens that two liters is a convenient quantity of soda to buy, for larger sizes. For individual consumption, 12 and 16 oz. containers are common.

We use metric when it works, and have never had to have it crammed down our throats.

lawoot
08-20-2002, 09:49 PM
Originally posted by Mr. Moto
It so happens that two liters is a convenient quantity of soda to buy, for larger sizes. For individual consumption, 12 and 16 oz. containers are common.

I haven't seen a 16 oz. bottle in YEARS. The most common sizes where I live is 20 oz. and 1 liter

Achernar
08-20-2002, 09:52 PM
A lot of things are metric in the USA, the most common one in my experience being medicine. As for soda, I have seen Coke and/or Pepsi sold in all of the following sizes:

8 oz, 12 oz, 0.5 L, 20 oz, 24 oz, 1 L, 2 L, 3 L

I've never seen 16 oz, though, as far as I can remember.

Reeder
08-20-2002, 09:53 PM
Coke has come back out with 16.9 oz plastic bottles in twelve packs just recently.

Enola Straight
08-20-2002, 09:58 PM
We buy our gas in gallons and measure our engines' performance in horsepower.

If suddenly we began selling gasoline at 36 cents a liter and measured the power in Kilowatts, the average American would think somebody had found out a new way to cheat him.

Duckster
08-20-2002, 10:01 PM
Metric is alive and well in the USA if you look. Such as:

1) The hard liquor industry.
2) The pharmaceutical industry.
3) The auto industry.

The list goes on. With global businesses it's more cost-effective to go metric than not.

About the only part of America that really hasn't gone metric are average Americans.

:D

mazzer
08-20-2002, 10:04 PM
Originally posted by Mr. Moto
America is doing it just right. We use measurements that make sense for what we're measuring.

Gallons works really well for gasoline, and we know instinctively how far a mile is. We don't need to do math in our heads to figure it out.
That's a ridiculous statement. It works well for you because you're used to it. If you'd been pumping liters all your life you would be just as comfortable with it.

When it comes to food products, Americans don't care that much about the unit of measurement, just about the relative size of the container. You could start selling milk in 3.79 L containers and no one would care as long as it was the same shape.

Achernar
08-20-2002, 10:06 PM
They do sell milk in 3.79 L containers. Do you mean 4 L containers?

mazzer
08-20-2002, 10:10 PM
Originally posted by Achernar
They do sell milk in 3.79 L containers. Do you mean 4 L containers?
No, I mean they could print 3.79 L on the label instead of 1 gallon, and no one would care.

Achernar
08-20-2002, 10:17 PM
Care, or notice? They do print 3.79 L on them. At least, they do on mine. It says:
1 gal
(3.79 L)

Alphagene
08-20-2002, 10:18 PM
Other metric units used commonly by us Yanks include hertz, calories, watts, volts, amps and ohms. The last three have no Imperial equivalents, AFAIK.

You'll also hear a lot of metric when dealing with biomedical stuff, like a 10cc injection of epinephrine. This is basically because the Imperial system is completely useless when it comes to describing the length, weight and volume of really tiny things. The diameter of a DNA double helix is .00000007 inches? Pfft. It's 2 nm.

I wouldn't necessarily say Americans are doing it the "right" way. I'm sure a kilometer is just as instinctive to a citizen of a metric country as a mile is to us.

That being said, I don't believe forcing the system on Americans will win it any fans. The fact that it is an inherently superior (IMHO) and more intuitive system combined with the necessity of using it just so we can interact with the rest of the world for commercial purposes will whittle away the last vesitiges of the Imperial system.

mazzer
08-20-2002, 10:21 PM
Originally posted by Achernar
Care, or notice? They do print 3.79 L on them. At least, they do on mine. It says:
1 gal
(3.79 L)
Touché.

elmwood
08-20-2002, 11:58 PM
The majority of products found in an store in the United States are marked in dual units ... English and metric.

Items made by very small local companies are usually labeled in English units only.

Wine and hard liquor is labeled in metric only. Most over-the-counter medicine is metric only, too.

Just eyeballing the shelves, about 10% of all items are marketed in "metric friendly" sizes, an example being two liter pop bottles. The "2 LITER" marking is dominant, with the odd English measurement downplayed. About 50% of health and beauty items use good, round metric measurements. The plastic bottle of Pantene shampoo by the tub is labeled "400 mL (13.5 fl oz)". The box containing a bar of Basis soap is labeled "5.3 oz 150 g."

In my laundry room, the Downy is labeled "1.8 L (60 fl oz)." The liquid Tide detergent, though, demonstrated excessive precision -- "300 fl oz 8.87 L" something that I think is scaring a lot of folks here away from embracing metric units. There's a belief that if the US goes completely metric, the stores will be stocked with oddball sized products for eternity -- 454 gram packets of spaghetti and 355 milliter bottles of beer. Product packaging changes every few years for marketing purposes; so it's no burden to alter packaging to avoid awkward sizes.

I think that sometime around 2010, the US will be more-or-less metric. Americans feel comfortable with metric units for volume, distance, and to some extent mass. Temperature ... I think Americans will remain more comfortable with English units; if it's 80 in Miami and 40 in Buffalo, the temperature difference is more apparent than if it's 26 in Miami and 5 in Buffalo.

Construction and real estate will remain English for a long time ... probably the rest of the century, given standardized building materials, previous land surveys and the English-based section-township-range system used in legal property descriptions. (When I was living in New Mexico, I frequently used surveys, some quite recent, with areas measured in cordels. caballerias and sitios, and distances measured in varas. Whether they were Southern New Mexico varas, Territorial varas, Pueblo varas, Texas varas, Arizona varas, California varas, Mexican varas or Castillian varas was anyone's guess.)

Just like Brits measure their weight in stone, Americans will still state their weight using pounds.

t-keela
08-21-2002, 01:27 AM
I think, mind you now, this is just a thought! Because the US imports and exports so much it is just practiacl to have both standard and metric units on merchandise. The times I've been out of the US, I've noticed quite a bit of merchandise on the shelves that are of US origin and are in the same packaging as here.
There are a lot of countries that ship to the US and they seem to be doing the same. It is getting quite common to include more than one language as well.

I remember 30 years ago in school, the country panicking about our changing to the metric system. People were screaming, freaking out about it. So, it just got pushed aside and a gradual change took place. It's not complete yet but look around. Practically everything today is measured in metric also, if not exclusively.

Like Duckster was saying, when's the last time you bought a quart of booze? coke, or many other items?

and BTW Coke bottles are made in the US or at least some of them are, I used to work there.

Mr2001
08-21-2002, 03:50 AM
Illicit drugs are giving younger generations a whole new incentive to know exactly how many grams are in an ounce.

smiling bandit
08-21-2002, 07:57 AM
And I understood that the US opted out and continue to use the imperial measurements.

More like we use whatever happens to be handy.

I think that sometime around 2010, the US will be more-or-less metric.

I've heard that before. Usually referring to a much earlier date. :)

Americans feel comfortable with metric units for volume, distance, and to some extent mass.

Volume? Like I ever use it.

Distance? BS (DEATH TO THE KILOMETER!!!!!!!!! THE MOST EVIL INVENTION SINCE THE GAS CHAMBER!!!!!)

Mass? Who cares about mass?

RealityChuck
08-21-2002, 08:40 AM
The main reason why soft drink manufacturers use liters and 2-liters is that it's cheaper. I don't recall the difference, but when they switched from 64-oz to 2 liters, they discovered the cost of manufacturing was such that they didn't have to charge extra for the extra ounces.

I think metric is the way to go, with one major exception: temperature. The Centigrade scale (not Celsius, since he got it backwards) is inferior to Fahrenheit because (purely by chance), Fahrenheit's scale is perfect for the main reason people want to know the temperature: the weather. 0-100 Fahrenheit is a pretty neat match to the normal extremes in temperature and gives you a great basis for comparison.

Go alien
08-21-2002, 08:47 AM
Originally posted by smiling bandit



Mass? Who cares about mass?

Catholics and astronauts.:)

JRDelirious
08-21-2002, 09:15 AM
Originally posted by elmwood

something that I think is scaring a lot of folks here away from embracing metric units. There's a belief that if the US goes completely metric, the stores will be stocked with oddball sized products for eternity -- 454 gram packets of spaghetti and 355 milliter bottles of beer.

And posted speed limits of 88 kph. In reality there would eventually be 500-gram (half-kilo) boxes of spaghetti, and the speed limit would be an even 90kph. The beverages industry went about it quite dispassionately: they just exhausted their stock of halfgallons, quarts and fifths and started selling only 2L, 1L and 750ml. It helped that these were "close enough" to the old measures. OTOH as pointed out, you still have the 7, 8, 10, 12, 16(yes, they exist), 20 and 40 fl.oz. containers, probably because the consumer is uncomfortable with fractional measures other than a half or quarter.

I'm wondering if any number of people would resolve a lot of body-image problems if suddenly their weight becomes "65" :D

Keeve
08-21-2002, 09:18 AM
A question for the non-Americans out there:

How are your diskettes labelled?

3 inches, or 76.2 mm ???

Mr. Moto
08-21-2002, 09:24 AM
I don't think my statement is so ridiculous, chriszarate. What pressing need is there for Americans to stop buying gas by the gallon and measuring distances in miles? If it works here for most people, no problem.

Likewise, when I was living in Italy, I had no problem with kilometers and liters, because these units were plugged into the culture in a way they're not here.

My point is that units used should be convenient for what is being measured, and this includes convenience for cultural reasons.

Even metric countries, when their ships go to sea, revert to measuring distances in yards and nautical miles. Anyone who knows navigation knows that this system is inherently simpler than metric for this purpose.

Popup
08-21-2002, 09:45 AM
Originally posted by Keeve How are your diskettes labelled?
3 inches, or 76.2 mm ???

My disks are not 3". They're not even 3.5", they're 90 mm!
quoting from FLOPPY disk INFO (http://web.ukonline.co.uk/freshwater/floppy1.htm)The 3.5 inch disk is actually manufactured to metric specifications and might more accurately be called a 90mm diskette
but no... they're labeled 3.5" anyway...

Let me just point out that the introduction of the so-called metric system is nothing new. (interesting historic tidbit (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Gene_Nygaard/t_jeff.htm))

Keeve
08-21-2002, 11:21 AM
Thanks, Popup. "3 inch" didn't sound right, but I couldn't remember the right number.

Can I presume that in Europe, they're actually labelled as 90mm, to distinguish them from 133.35mm floppies? (or were those 135mm?)

Anyway, you have made my point even stronger. If we can live with 2-liter soda bottles, and the high-tech diskettes are actually 90mm in size, why the heck does the box measure the diskettes in inches :rolleyes::confused::rolleyes:

Kaf
08-21-2002, 12:46 PM
I seem to recall hearing that the main reason the liquor industry embraced the metric system was they realized they could swith from a fifth to a liter, a decrease of about 1/3 of the product, but then not drop their prices by 1/3.

A quick chance to find some extra margin, I guess.

The real question though, is why are American 2 liter bottles a different shape than European bottle. The American version is shorter and thicker around.

Seems like it would be easier for distribution to only have one size.

ElJeffe
08-21-2002, 02:36 PM
The real question though, is why are American 2 liter bottles a different shape than European bottle. The American version is shorter and thicker around.

Seems like it would be easier for distribution to only have one size.


Maybe short bottles market-tested better here, and tall bottles tested better in Europe? Or maybe it has to do with refrigerator sizes. I know that if a 2-liter were any taller, it wouldn't fit in my fridge.

And as far as the US converting to mostly metric by 2010... sure. *snigger* I laugh every time I open my kiddie educational books from the late 70's and read about how the US will be completely metric by 1985. :D Prediction: If the US ever does switch to metric, it'll be far, far in the future. While this annoys the engineer in me (english units are - let's face it - cumbersome and annoying when you need to convert), the stubborn American in me is glad. ;)

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
08-21-2002, 02:47 PM
I think metric measures are becoming increasingly common in contexts where the translation is relatively painless. The liter soda bottles are a good example of that. Translating one linear type of unit from one to another is easy enough, but I think a lot of Americans are resistant to the idea of having to think of two-or-three-dimensional measures. We're just so used to square feet,
and cubic feet or gallons. Where it really becomes a problem is when you have to think of one unit per another. Translating "miles per gallon" to "kilometers per liter" is going to be difficult. Not arithmetic wise, but just in getting the intuitive feel of it. Of course we could do it if we'd only try, but it seems that most of us in this country are extremely resistant to change of any type. Unfortunately, in my opinion.

Nametag
08-21-2002, 02:54 PM
Originally posted by Kaf
I seem to recall hearing that the main reason the liquor industry embraced the metric system was they realized they could swith from a fifth to a liter, a decrease of about 1/3 of the product, but then not drop their prices by 1/3.

Huh? The metric replacement for the old fifth is 750 ml; the fifth is 25.6 ounces; 750 mL is 25.36 ounces (Omigod, we lost a teaspoon! Aaaggh!).

The equivalent of a quart, the liter, is LARGER than either a fifth OR a quart.

So there!

Kaf
08-21-2002, 03:08 PM
Originally posted by Nametag
The equivalent of a quart, the liter, is LARGER than either a fifth OR a quart.

So there!

Oops! A goof already. Don't post and work at the same time, or you too will mix up your ratios. :smack:

That will teach me to listen to what people say.

Perhaps, when increasing the size from a fifth to 1 liter, they took advantage to increase the profit margin disproportionately?

Boobka
08-21-2002, 04:40 PM
I guess someone has to say it

"The metric system is the tool of the devil!!! My car gets 30 rods to a hogshead and that's the way I likes it"

hhehe

I have been told by my engineering brother that most of the oil industry uses Imperial mesurments (PSI etc vs SI measurments)
and this isn't exclusive to the US

Achernar
08-21-2002, 05:47 PM
I want to see some country adopt cgs:

Speed Limit: 3×103 cm/s

Try our new Diet Soda, with less than 2×1011 ergs per serving!

raoulortega
08-21-2002, 07:40 PM
"The metric system is an abstraction whose beauty lies in its indifference to the way human beings actually live their lives or feel comfortable measuring things."

I've always found it amusing that the same people who criticize Americans for being mono-lingual turn around to criticize us for using multiple incompatible measurement systems. I'd think converting between inches and centimeters would be a lot easier (and more precise) than translating between French and English.

mnemosyne
08-21-2002, 09:19 PM
The difference between 80F and 40F is more obvious than the difference between 26C and 5C?!?!?! I grew up with the metric system, and centigrade temperature makes a hell of a lot more sense, to me. I like the linearality of it - if something is 50C, then it's half way to boiling from freezing, and 25 is a comforatble room temperature (actually, I like 22 more, but whatever) and 5 quite cold - need at least a sweater and probably a jacket.......

212 for boiling and -32 for freezing? Doesn't make all that much sense to me.

My point is that you are all sitting there saying its more intuitive, or "easier for Americans" , but thats only because its the only system you know.

As for other things....I drive km/hour and I know my weight in pounds, so there are probably benefits to both systems.

amarone
08-21-2002, 09:38 PM
The US version of www.weather.com allows you to choose whether temperatures are displayed in "English" or "metric" units. As England now uses Celsius, does this mean you get Celsius no matter which option you choose?

Actually, it is strange that they use the term "English" as the units of temperature are not defined by the language used, but by the country. I wonder why they didn't put "American".

Sunspace
08-21-2002, 10:22 PM
Nametag said:
Huh? The metric replacement for the old fifth is 750 ml; the fifth is 25.6 ounces; 750 mL is 25.36 ounces (Omigod, we lost a teaspoon! Aaaggh!).

The equivalent of a quart, the liter, is LARGER than either a fifth OR a quart.

I think the proper name for the system of units used in the US is, yes, the US Customary System of Measure. It is not the same as the Imperial system of measurement that was used in Canada, the UK, etc.

For instance, the US gallon is 3.85 litres and the Imperial gallon is 4.5 litres. So 1 litre is larger than a US quart but smaller than a Canadian or English quart. I think one of the smaller units is the same in both systems (the fluid ounce?).

I didn't realise till a couple of years ago that a "fluid ounce" is a measure of volume. Most of the things that the average person would see measured in fluid ounces on a daily basis are water-based (food, etc), so their densities would be roughly the same; treating the fluid ounce as a unit of mass for rough back-of-the-hand comparisons worked.

neutron star
08-22-2002, 05:49 AM
The difference between 80F and 40F is more obvious than the difference between 26C and 5C?!?!?!

I think the point RealityChuck was trying to make was that the units of measurement in our scale of temperature are smaller, thus more precise, and also more in tune with day-to-day life.

For example, when I turn on my stove to boil some water, I don't need to know that the temperature is 212 degrees. Hell, a lot of Americans don't even know the boiling point of water. Most everybody (I hope) knows the freezing point, though (and that's positive 32, not -32), especially those in the colder climates.

Turning my thermostat from 72 to 73 would produce a more subtle change than turning it from 23 to 24. I like that

Acsenray
08-22-2002, 07:33 AM
Of course we could do it if we'd only try, but it seems that most of us in this country are extremely resistant to change of any type.

No, we're resistant to being told we have to change something that seems perfectly fine to us by pointy-headed scientists and Eurocrats.

Derleth
08-22-2002, 09:16 AM
Name me one reason the US will change to metric that hasn't existed since the 1970s.

Trade? No, we seem to get on just fine with the rest of the world. When it suits our interests to use metric, we've used metric (scientific and biomedical), and when it doesn't, the rest of the world simply copes (automakers).

Global community? We have no differences with the rest of the world that a switch to metric could possibly fix, and the countries we're friendly with like us just fine complete with odd measurement systems.

Internal convenience? I think most Americans are aware of the metric system. Then they put gallons in their tanks, miles on their engines, and liters in their stomachs, in typical American split-brained fashion. Medical people already use the metric system extensively at work, then switch to Customary the minute they step outside the hospital or clinic. I think our mish-mash is convenient, whether you Europeans understand it or not.

Are there any I've missed?

Shalmanese
08-22-2002, 09:50 AM
Umm... you would have one more Mars Rover for one thing :)

RM Mentock
08-22-2002, 11:33 AM
Originally posted by Keeve
Anyway, you have made my point even stronger. If we can live with 2-liter soda bottles, and the high-tech diskettes are actually 90mm in size, why the heck does the box measure the diskettes in inches

Maybe the same reason that the entire fucking world still plays soccer with goal posts that measure 8 feet (2.44 meters) by 8 yards (7.32 meters)?

Oh yeah, JRDelirious, I'd bet dollars to donuts that the speed limit would end up being 100 km/hour. As Babe Ruth once said, now there's a nice round number...

clairobscur
08-22-2002, 11:37 AM
Originally posted by Keeve
Thanks, Popup. "3 inch" didn't sound right, but I couldn't remember the right number.

Can I presume that in Europe, they're actually labelled as 90mm, to distinguish them from 133.35mm floppies? (or were those 135mm?)



Here they're labelled in inches, called "pouces" (former french unit slightly longer than an inch)

Achernar
08-22-2002, 03:03 PM
Originally posted by neutron star
Turning my thermostat from 72 to 73 would produce a more subtle change than turning it from 23 to 24. I like that.I was about to say that that's one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard, but then I realized that I prefer centimeters over inches for the same reason. Perhaps if I were more termperature-sensitive, if I could tell the difference between a 94°F day and a 95°F day, I'd feel different. But, even though metric weather reports wouldn't bother with it, there's nothing saying that your thermostat couldn't have half-degree marks.

mnemosyne
08-22-2002, 06:20 PM
But very few things are so sensitive that the difference of a degree C would matter more than that of a degree F - certainly not your food in the kitchen, and I doubt you could tell the temperature. Besides, there are such things as half degrees C, and tenths, and hundredths, and thousandths.....they can be just as precisely measured, it you really need to know, which most people don't.

Sorry for the -32 thing - I was thinking about the -40F/-40C point, and must have still been in negative numbers while typing :) I DO know that its 32F :)

t-keela
08-25-2002, 03:10 AM
Hey it's real simple, Americans are just smarter than everybody else. We have no problem understanding this strange fucking system that the rest of the world looks at w/ confusion.

That's okay, y'all can't help it if you have to do everything the easy way! Most countries can claim a specific history and nationality. So, you don't have to deal w/ 100 diferent languages on the street. Here in Texas, English is not even the primary language in some parts.
We have a heritage to protect or make, I'm not quite sure which. When you live in a country that is comprised of every damned nationality in the world. Yet, somehow seems to be able to make it work. Screw whether you buy your tequila in liters or quarts.
Just as long as you can get what you're after w/out getting shot or blown up.

Besides, it's y'alls idea to use this metric crap anyway. I kinda like jackin w/ people about weights and measures.

BTW: How many pickled peppers are in a peck? :D PEACE

Squish
08-25-2002, 03:35 AM
I still stand in the liquor department trying to figure out which of those bottles is a fifth and which is a fourth. :(

When cooking, of course, 8 ounces is a cup, 16 ounces (or two cups) is a pint, 2 pints is a quart, and 4 quarts are a gallon. Smaller numbers than the metric system and lots easier to remember.

Sharkfan
07-27-2017, 09:10 PM
It is true that in the U.S. we have not converted to the metric system. That being said there are certain products sold using metric measurements, one of the most common being soda sold in liters and two liter bottles. Soda companies first made that switch in 1970, so it has been sold that way for quite some time now. The main reason the soda industry switched to liters in the U.S. is because the majority of the world is on the metric system. By converting their bottles to liters and two liters, they were able to standardize their bottle sizes worldwide as these changes grew. This was particularly important in areas that did not have their own bottling plants and had to rely on importing their products from the U.S.

silenus
07-27-2017, 09:16 PM
I think after 15 years the OP has figured that out by now. And given that their last activity on this board was 3 years ago, I'm going to guess he isn't listening.

Chronos
07-27-2017, 10:18 PM
I think elmwood might still be around, though. I wonder what he thinks of his 2010 prediction, now that twice that time has passed?

And a lot of Americans say that they don't like the metric system because they don't understand it, but I guarantee you that anyone who says that doesn't understand the American system, either. Anyone who does actually understand the American system wants to stay as far away from it as possible, because it's a complete mess.

watchwolf49
07-27-2017, 10:58 PM
The United States uses a decimal system for her currency ... if we also used a decimal system for weights and measures it would be easier for the consumer to figure out the best value, many could do this math in their heads ... by using fractional values for weights and measures, it's more difficult for the consumer to figure the best value even with an electronic calculator ... and most just guess rather than get pencil and paper out and compute the fractions involved ... thus the consumer is far more easily ripped off ...

To Wit: the 3 lbs 1-3/4 oz box of Bleef™ can be labeled "economy sized" and be priced at double the 1 lbs 14-3/8 oz box ... the casual shopper would just assume the 3 lbs box is a better value than the other "one pound" box ... in spite the opposite being true ...

Also: US tons are cheaper on world markets than British tons, in spite the US product being more expensive per pound ... good ol' American ingenuity is what I say ...

The metric system is getting very close to being an outstanding system for the conveyance of accurate information ... completely unsuited for the American consumer marketplace ... [wolfish grin] ...

Broomstick
07-27-2017, 11:00 PM
Like Duckster was saying, when's the last time you bought a quart of booze? coke, or many other items?
Actually, booze used to be commonly sold in fifths. Which is pretty close to 750 ml, which is now a frequent size for things like vodka.

zombywoof
07-27-2017, 11:44 PM
You guys realize this thread is 18 decamonths old, right?

sweepkick
07-28-2017, 12:34 AM
A question for the non-Americans out there:

How are your diskettes labelled?

3 inches, or 76.2 mm ???

Yeah, this is the one that tipped me off.

Flyer
07-28-2017, 01:49 AM
Anyone who does actually understand the American system wants to stay as far away from it as possible, because it's a complete mess.

It never fails to amaze me how many people believe that myth. I absolutely guarantee that EVERYBODY who understands the American system knows why we stick with it.

It's FAR, FAR, FAR more intuitive and convenient than the idiotic metric system.

A foot is very close to the length of the average adult foot. The metric system has no equivalent. A yard is about twice the length from the wrist to the shoulder. Height of people is measured in a conveniently-small number -- 5 feet, 6 feet, etc. Why in the name of common sense would anybody want to say 1.xx meters, or (alternatively) have to use literally hundreds of centimeters?

We have ounces and pints for small amounts of liquid, and gallons and barrels for large amounts. When the temperature hits zero, we know that it's actually cold, not warm enough for a light coat. You clearly have no conception of how annoying it would be to have to use negative numbers on a daily basis for months on end.

25 mph is a good speed for a residential street, which is appropriate, since it's a fairly small number. 60 mph is a mile per minute, which is nice and dandy. A standard city block is 1/10 of a mile.

Etc, etc, etc.

rat avatar
07-28-2017, 02:14 AM
Actually, booze used to be commonly sold in fifths. Which is pretty close to 750 ml, which is now a frequent size for things like vodka.

The TTB regulates this, but offically spirits can only be sold in:

50 mL, 100 mL, 200 mL, 375 mL, 750 mL, 1 L, and 1.75 L — except for cans, whose standard sizes are 50 mL, 100 mL, 200 mL, and 355 mL.
(https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/5.47a)


Wine is allowed in:

50 mL, 100 mL, 187 mL, 375 mL, 500 mL, 750 mL, 1 L, 1.5 L, 3 L, and larger integral multiples of liters.

(27 CFR Part 4 — Labeling and advertising of wine)

And beer is the oddball, it is required to be sold in pint/quart/gallons.

§ 7.27 Net contents.

(a) Net contents shall be stated as follows:

(1) If less than 1 pint, in fluid ounces, or fractions of a pint.

(2) If 1 pint, 1 quart, or 1 gallon, the net contents shall be so stated.

(3) If more than 1 pint, but less than 1 quart, the net contents shall be stated in fractions of a quart, or in pints and fluid ounces.

(4) If more than 1 quart, but less than 1 gallon, the net contents shall be stated in fractions of a gallon, or in quarts, pints, and fluid ounces.

(5) If more than 1 gallon, the net contents shall be stated in gallons and fractions thereof.

(27 CFR Part 7 — Labeling and advertising of malt beverages)


For other products like food mandatory dual labeling went into effect in 1994.

But this is just a consumer confusion issue, all off these units have been officially defined off of the metric system in the US sense the Mendenhall order in 1893 or about 125 years ago. Outside of very small groups like Engineers, who stick to differing units of measure to keep their math pretty we have just been using a different scale for the same core units.

Maybe not perfectly SI, but SI is not the metric system.

rat avatar
07-28-2017, 02:40 AM
More like we use whatever happens to be handy.



I've heard that before. Usually referring to a much earlier date. :)

Americans feel comfortable with metric units for volume, distance, and to some extent mass.

Volume? Like I ever use it.

Distance? BS (DEATH TO THE KILOMETER!!!!!!!!! THE MOST EVIL INVENTION SINCE THE GAS CHAMBER!!!!!)

Mass? Who cares about mass?

As this is General Questions I need to correct this, it is a common myth that the pound is not a unit of mass.

This is only true if you are in a small number of fields or industry that uses the Foot-Pound-Second (FPS) systems of units.

This is a very specialized unit of measures and the only common one in the US that defines force as the primary dimension with units of pound-force and mass is a secondary unit with units of slug.

The avoirdupois pound is and has been a unit of mass forever, and officially defined against the Kilogram post 1883. This is the pound that is the basis unit.

While they did adjust the ratio by tiny amounts over the years, post 1959 1 pound = 0.45359237 kg the world round.

I know that I am tilting at windmills here, but before 1960 there were multiple versions of the metric system, and at least three base units for mass, the gram, the kilogram and the Metric Ton, it was not nearly as uniform as typically claimed in the common urban legend.

JoseB
07-28-2017, 03:38 AM
It never fails to amaze me how many people believe that myth. I absolutely guarantee that EVERYBODY who understands the American system knows why we stick with it.

It's FAR, FAR, FAR more intuitive and convenient than the idiotic metric system.

A foot is very close to the length of the average adult foot. The metric system has no equivalent. A yard is about twice the length from the wrist to the shoulder. Height of people is measured in a conveniently-small number -- 5 feet, 6 feet, etc. Why in the name of common sense would anybody want to say 1.xx meters, or (alternatively) have to use literally hundreds of centimeters?

We have ounces and pints for small amounts of liquid, and gallons and barrels for large amounts. When the temperature hits zero, we know that it's actually cold, not warm enough for a light coat. You clearly have no conception of how annoying it would be to have to use negative numbers on a daily basis for months on end.

25 mph is a good speed for a residential street, which is appropriate, since it's a fairly small number. 60 mph is a mile per minute, which is nice and dandy. A standard city block is 1/10 of a mile.

Etc, etc, etc.

And I can guarantee that anybody who understands the metric system (as in "was raised with it his/her whole life", like me) will always consider American customary units to be messy, stupid and counter-intuitive.

It is not "this or that system is better-suited for daily life". It is "this or that system is what I grew up with and thus I think it is better".

The metric system has no equivalent of the foot, but we never ever think we need one. As to making units correspond with parts of the body, 1 cm is roughly the width of the tip of your pinky finger, and 1 m is more or less the distance from your shoulder to the tip of the fingers of the hand in the opposite, outstretched arm. We find it silly to measure people's height with 5 or 6 units of something, followed by a smaller unit that doesn't go a nice "round" number of times inside the bigger one (12 inches to the foot? WTF, man?). We do not think it is hard, nonsensical or somehow "antinatural" to say people are "1 something" (or "2 something" in rare cases). I am one seventy-eight tall, and nobody around finds that saying that feels weird. What sounds weird to me is saying that I am 5 foot 10.

For some reason we are not scared to deal with fractions. 1 liter is a nice size for a bottle to share with family and friends; if you want more you always have 1 and 1/2 or 2 liters, of course. 1/4 liter is a nice table glass; 1/2 liter is a good size for a portable bottle of water; 3/4 liter is your average bottle of wine; 1 shot glass is roughly 50 ml, or 5/100 of a liter, or 1/10 of a 1/2 liter bottle (the latter is the usual understanding, in my experience). Now; around here, in pubs and for beer, you can find pints, although not often and they will almost always be British Imperial pints, which are a bit bigger than 1/2 liter (thus convenient when you want to do some kind of promotion, selling more quantity for the same price as a half-liter).

We are not afraid of negative numbers in temperature. Why would anybody think they are somehow unnatural, annoying and inconvenient, I will never understand. 10C is chilly; 20C is a nice spring day; 30C is hot, 40C is very hot, 50C is "WTF risk of death guys!!"-- Below 0, watch out for ice! 0 is nippy, -10 is cold, -20 is BRRRRRR COLD, -30 is holy shit this is bad, -40 C is "oh fuck better find shelter soon or we're gonna die". Incidentally, in Russia, during winter, they deal with this "negative temperatures" thing in a very simple way: when stating a temperature, if otherwise not specified, it is assumed that it will be negative.

Speeds: 30 km/h is OK for residential streets where you can find children playing outside or lots of pedestrians; 50 km/h is perfect for urban driving; 120 km/h is a good highway speed (~ 75 mph), wherein you go exactly 2 km per minute. Easy to calculate in your head.

Yes, the US went to the Moon and back with instruments labeled in American customary units... but the internal workings of the computers were SI :p

Francis Vaughan
07-28-2017, 03:50 AM
The difference between long and short tons is one that really does bother me, and this is one that is too easy to miss. US gallon versus the rest is less of an issue (but you can get caught out.) The very close mass of the metric and imperial ton is rather neat, but possibly a source of confusion as well. You sort of have only two kinds of ton, but not quite. (And the tonne with its various weird pronunciations to try to distinguish it from ton gets zero support from me.)

Any how many people know what unit gold is measured in?

Perhaps the amusing irony is that the US is tied to the SI measurement system. All the US units are defined in terms of the SI standards. Indeed the US is very active in the efforts to standardise the kilogram in terms of Plank's constant.

In Oz we changed from the Imperial system to metric when I were a lad. Curiously they decided that since they would have to change all the school textbooks they would run an even horizon through the school system, so one particular cohort would be the one that got the new textbooks, all the older kids stayed on imperial (where it was still used) right through schooling, and all the younger kids would get metric. I was in the changeover cohort. Which was interesting, as I'm pretty comfortable with either system, and can switch from one to the other for things like woodworking without even noticing. But anything even remotely scientific is metric, and almost (sadly only almost) all SI.

Flyer
07-28-2017, 09:58 AM
What sounds weird to me is saying that I am 5 foot 10.

For some reason we are not scared to deal with fractions.

Ok--
So you're not exactly scared of fractions, but you find them weird.

:rolleyes:

And you call us irrational?

Francis Vaughan
07-28-2017, 10:02 AM
And you call us irrational?

Boom tish ..... :D

JoseB
07-28-2017, 11:05 AM
Ok--
So you're not exactly scared of fractions, but you find them weird.

:rolleyes:

And you call us irrational?

Yes, because dividing things in 12 parts (12 inches to the foot), or 16 (16 ounces to the pound), or 3 (3 feet to the yard), or complete nonsense (5280 feet in a mile) is really weird. And it is not as if it depends on what you are measuring... Length measurements are all over the place!

And, yes, metric keeps Babilonian craziness with the 60-seconds-to-the-minute and the 60-minutes-to-the-hour stuff -- but what in metric is the exception, for American customary units is the rule.

Is it so hard to stick to (mostly) a single scale factor across the board?

Dissonance
07-28-2017, 11:19 AM
The liter bottle is the only thing that caught on because it's a nicer word, "liter" then "quart". Quart. Quart. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1130080/quotes)

DPRK
07-28-2017, 11:27 AM
You forgot 14 pounds in a stone.

It's all a long-standing conspiracy to keep the plebs confused and consolidate real power where it belongs, with the ultimate goal of bringing about the end of the world through applied numerology.

BTW this has been covered above, but minutes and hours are no less "metric" than inches and such because they all trace back to reproducible standards. The international standard unit of time is the second.

Chronos
07-28-2017, 11:58 AM
OK, Flyer, since you claim to understand the American system: Suppose you have a fish tank, that's 18 inches wide, 48 inches long, and 24 inches tall. How many gallons will it hold? Can you figure it out even with a calculator? Because given the equivalent metric problem, I can do it in my head.

I've got a recipe that calls for a tablespoon of something. But that recipe is for three servings, and I'm making it for 50. I don't want to measure out sixteen tablespoons; that's obviously a better job for a measuring cup. So, how many cups do I need?

If I tell you the torque of an engine in foot-pounds and its RPM, can you tell me its horsepower? Because if you tell me the torque in newton-meters and the rotation speed in radians per second, I can easily tell you the wattage.

Which weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of gold? Which masses more, a kilogram of feathers or a kilogram of gold?

Fotheringay-Phipps
07-28-2017, 12:03 PM
It is true that in the U.S. we have not converted to the metric system. That being said there are certain products sold using metric measurements, one of the most common being soda sold in liters and two liter bottles. Soda companies first made that switch in 1970, so it has been sold that way for quite some time now. The main reason the soda industry switched to liters in the U.S. is because the majority of the world is on the metric system. By converting their bottles to liters and two liters, they were able to standardize their bottle sizes worldwide as these changes grew. This was particularly important in areas that did not have their own bottling plants and had to rely on importing their products from the U.S.I don't think the 1970 date is correct. I remember as a kid that large size soda bottles were 64 oz (and glass). That's a lot later than 1970. I suspect you're about 10 years off on that.

My (vague) recollection is that at some point there was a big push to convert entirely to the metric system. A lot of talk about it, with attendant pushback. I would speculate that soda manufacturers simply got out in front of the curve and were left there when the anticipated shift never came off.

rat avatar
07-28-2017, 03:24 PM
OK, Flyer, since you claim to understand the American system: Suppose you have a fish tank, that's 18 inches wide, 48 inches long, and 24 inches tall. How many gallons will it hold? Can you figure it out even with a calculator? Because given the equivalent metric problem, I can do it in my head.

I've got a recipe that calls for a tablespoon of something. But that recipe is for three servings, and I'm making it for 50. I don't want to measure out sixteen tablespoons; that's obviously a better job for a measuring cup. So, how many cups do I need?

If I tell you the torque of an engine in foot-pounds and its RPM, can you tell me its horsepower? Because if you tell me the torque in newton-meters and the rotation speed in radians per second, I can easily tell you the wattage.

Which weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of gold? Which masses more, a kilogram of feathers or a kilogram of gold?


As stated above A pound of feathers and a pound of gold both have 0.45359237 kg of Mass, and both weight a pound. As a 1 pound-force is one 1 pound under Standard Gravity (SI unit).

Every measurement system has benefits and disadvantages and while SI is typically nicer in a modern world it does have issues.

But how you are self selecting special use cases that try to stack the deck for the SI units how about some alternatives.

If you want to fly from the Equator to the 45th parallel, how many kilometers is that? I know that it is 2700 NM. (1 min is 1 NM)

You have a recipe that Calls for 1 KG of flour and you want to cut it by 1/3, 1/8 and 1/16, without rounding write the recipe and find it on your measuring cup.

12, 16, and 5280 were choice for reasons that are far more practical with historical methods of math.

As an example 5280 can be evenly divided by every single digit except for 7 and 9. And 16 is evenly divisible by those digits more than 10 is.

While we may find base 10 nicer overall, the numbers they chose are not random.

squidfood
07-28-2017, 03:48 PM
A shout-out to base-12 and base-60 for anything commonly divided into parts.

"hmm, in this foot-long space I can fit 2 6-inch shelves, 3 4-inch shelves, 4 3-inch shelves."

"How many miles-per-hour am I going? Let's see, it's easy if I can do a single mile in 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes, 6 minutes, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30."

Oh, and base-2 is nice for drill bits.

Just Asking Questions
07-28-2017, 04:07 PM
And conservative NRA members such as myself know how big a 9 mm bullet is.

I know it's 15 years old, but I laughed at this comment.

Does that mean liberal gun owners buy .354s for their Glocks and Berettas?

:)

Chronos
07-28-2017, 04:59 PM
As stated above A pound of feathers and a pound of gold both have 0.45359237 kg of Mass, and both weight a pound.
Nope, the pound of gold has 0.373242 kg of mass.
If you want to fly from the Equator to the 45th parallel, how many kilometers is that? I know that it is 2700 NM. (1 min is 1 NM)
And I know that it's 5000 km (from the Equator to the pole is 10,000 km)
You have a recipe that Calls for 1 KG of flour and you want to cut it by 1/3, 1/8 and 1/16, without rounding write the recipe and find it on your measuring cup.
That's easy, 1/3 kg, 1/8 kg, and 1/16 kg, and why am I looking on my measuring cup instead of on my scale?
12, 16, and 5280 were choice for reasons that are far more practical with historical methods of math.
And those reasons are only practical for the precise uses for which they were designed, which in many cases are now obsolete. Why do I care how far a mule can pull a plow before he gets tired? Because that's the reason for the furlong, eight of which are defined as a mile.

rat avatar
07-28-2017, 05:21 PM
OK, I realized that I grew up in a town that mined a material that is used in glass making (trona) and decided to call up someone who worked as a sales rep to the bottling companies.

While still anecdote the explanation makes more sense than anything I have seen so far.

Around ~1967 Both Pepsi and Coke release Aluminium versions of their 12 once can which had pull tabs and which were "high tech"

At the same time period the Metric movement was gaining steam around the world, including in the US and Canada, and the equipment to make plastic bottles was expensive.

Previous to that point the 12oz Pepsi and 10/12oz Coke (king size) bottles. Pepsi's was larger to compete with Coke and Coke had two sizes that the bottlers could chose based on their local market needs.

Coke had a "family-size" bottles 26oz which was 4 * their older 6.5oz normal sized bottle.

When Pepsi-co created a new "Family Size" PET bottle around 1970 they simply made it the large enough to provide a similar quantity of soda as in a 6 pack of 12oz cans.

12oz ~= 355ml
355 ml * 6 = 2130ml = 2.13 liters which they rounded down to 2 liters.

As the popularity of the "two-liter" grew as a term in the US 1 liter bottles were introduced to leverage that popularity while also simplifying sales of the enclosures, or the same molds for the enclosures to our neighbors in the north if the opportunity was there.

TLDR; 2L is a good approximation of a six-pack of 12oz cans in a "bulk" container. And was sensitive to the world wide changes in standards of measure at the time.

Note: As I said, this is anecdote from a retired salesman from a competing industry, but it seems to fit.

Civil Guy
07-28-2017, 05:38 PM
Yeah, it's a mess and we kind of like it that way. I think that in a little while, we Yanks will get more used to hearing international reports with elevations and distances given in meters. Eventually we'll figure out that a 5k race is really 5 *kilometers*, and that the sky has not fallen down much for that being so.

100k is the distance that can decently driven in an hour at (moderate) highway speed.

Oh, the previous schtick about a pound of feathers versus a pound of gold is a trick question based on the sort of pedantic fact that gold was/is weighed by the troy ounce and feathers would ordinarily be weighed by the avoirdupois ounce. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy_weight for the many details. So 16 av. ounces (= 1 av. pound) of feathers in fact weighs more than 12 troy ounces (= 1 troy pound) of gold.

dtilque
07-28-2017, 05:57 PM
OK, Flyer, since you claim to understand the American system: Suppose you have a fish tank, that's 18 inches wide, 48 inches long, and 24 inches tall. How many gallons will it hold? Can you figure it out even with a calculator? Because given the equivalent metric problem, I can do it in my head.

Using a calculator, it's 89.8 US gallons. I suppose I could have done it in my head, but dividing by 231 would be a bit of a bother.


I've got a recipe that calls for a tablespoon of something. But that recipe is for three servings, and I'm making it for 50. I don't want to measure out sixteen tablespoons; that's obviously a better job for a measuring cup. So, how many cups do I need?

One cup plus two teaspoons. This one is very easy in the US customary system, because its volume measurements are mostly a binary system. There's two tablespoons in a fluid ounce and 8 fluid ounces in a cup. Since you chose a problem with a 16 multiplier, it came out very easy. (The two teaspoons comes from the extra 2/3 tablespoon. There's three teaspoons in a tablespoon.)

rat avatar
07-28-2017, 06:20 PM
Nope, the pound of gold has 0.373242 kg of mass.

And I know that it's 5000 km (from the Equator to the pole is 10,000 km)

That's easy, 1/3 kg, 1/8 kg, and 1/16 kg, and why am I looking on my measuring cup instead of on my scale?

And those reasons are only practical for the precise uses for which they were designed, which in many cases are now obsolete. Why do I care how far a mule can pull a plow before he gets tired? Because that's the reason for the furlong, eight of which are defined as a mile.

Troy weight, and the troy ounce is a special system of measurements that BTW is used by every country using International System of Units (SI) outside of East Asia.

(abbreviated "oz" or "ozt") equals 31.1034768 grams exactly

The fact that it still exists is not the fault of either the US customary measurements or international avoirdupois pound which is legally defined as exactly 0.45359237 kilograms.

Apothecaries or Troy units of measure are industry specific and not even defined off of the US/Imperial or avoirdupois pound, but off of the SI system.

1 ozt = 31.1034768 grams exactly, and thus 1 International/US/Imperial pound = 1 International/US/Imperial pound of anything else

https://www.nist.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2016/11/10/appc-17-hb44-final.pdf

To date the only gold coinage minted in the SI system are China's Gold Pandas so there is not claim of superiority for the rest of the world there.

But in very common fields like navigation, machining and other fields the avoirdupois and customary units are used due to practicality.

And BTW, how are you measuring those "masses" on a scale? Are you correcting for the offset from local vs standard gravity? To you have a watt balance? What about use cases where substances are hydrophilic, and the weight can very but the volume is more accurate for your needs? As a fan of physics how do you dismiss the existence of a rational biased measurement system that is directly defined off the same basis units as SI while you use amu, kWh, eV or Torr?

Can we cook our food in Celsius? which is a non-SI unit or do we bake your bred in K to be SI compliant? Do we use Newtons to weight our flower, or do we use the verboten kilopond, which is analogous to the pound-force? Are you suggesting that we just ignore that distinction and use "kilogram" in an improper way while debasing other?

While some industry (like gold) use units of measure which are purely historical, others like navigation use them due to the failings of the SI units.

Are you arguing that they just ignore finite number of numbers when written as a decimal, and accept that compounding errors are just the random result of us being born with 10 fingers?

The same accessibility that the metric system gives for non-experts in some areas induces serious impediments in other cases for the same non-experts.

It is a good system and I tend to prefer SI units, but I would never try to do precision machining or ocean navigation with it, as there are systems that are far more useful.

And if you have to have a scale to use the metric system do segment you can easily attach another scale to those same systems, they are all derived exactly off the same chunk of metal in a vault in France.

But really your argument really doesn't invalidate my claims, it just demonstrates that people/industries that use odd units of measure like Troy need to avoid using the more common abbreviations. And in the case of your post it is more correct to use the suffix "lb t" or "lb troy"

Musicat
07-28-2017, 06:36 PM
OK, Flyer, since you claim to understand the American system: Suppose you have a fish tank, that's 18 inches wide, 48 inches long, and 24 inches tall. How many gallons will it hold? Can you figure it out even with a calculator? Because given the equivalent metric problem, I can do it in my head.

I've got a recipe that calls for a tablespoon of something. But that recipe is for three servings, and I'm making it for 50. I don't want to measure out sixteen tablespoons; that's obviously a better job for a measuring cup. So, how many cups do I need?

If I tell you the torque of an engine in foot-pounds and its RPM, can you tell me its horsepower? Because if you tell me the torque in newton-meters and the rotation speed in radians per second, I can easily tell you the wattage.
Leaving aside the weight of gold or feathers, you must lead a very interesting and challenging life if those are the kind of calculations you need to do in your head every day. And what measurement units do you use for calculating how many seconds in a metric hour?

Ornery Bob
07-28-2017, 06:59 PM
There's a difference between shoppers and people who happen to be buying things... and shoppers are never confused by units of measure and are never unsure which is the best buy.

As far as supermarkets are concerned, every market I go to puts the unit price right on their labels - if you can read and care to actually look at the price tags, they tell you outright which is the best deal regardless of what's written on the packaging. The 30 piece "economy" stack of Dixie plates is 9 cents per plate, the 10 piece stack of Brand X plates is 8 cents per plate - if you're literate, you have no excuse for being confused about which is the best deal.

As for "pencil and paper" to calculate things, what a silly thing to say. Normal people use the calculator on their phone.

The only people who have problems are idiots who are sleepwalking though life anyway - to anyone with a couple of functioning brain cells, it's all a non-issue.

Cub Mistress
07-28-2017, 10:22 PM
Medical stuff is the US is usually metric, except when it is not...
meds are mostly in mg, liquids in ml (not cc!) height in cm, weight in kg.
Except that catheter sizes are in French and needle sizes in gauge, to name a few.
Craziness, I say!

Melbourne
07-28-2017, 10:29 PM
A lot of things are metric in the USA, the most common one in my experience being medicine.
Medicine has been metric since at least the 40's, when my mother got her training.

Years after I learned that her idiosyncratic pronunciation of metric terms was a linguistic marker for American medical doctors.

Chronos
07-28-2017, 10:30 PM
Yes, most grocery stores list unit prices. But have you ever actually paid attention to them? Often, three competing products will have their unit prices listed as per ounce on one, per gram on another, and per package on the third.

rat avatar, are you seriously saying that the fact that you have to round numbers to a finite number of decimal places is a flaw of the metric system? That has nothing to do with the metric system; everything that humans ever have to do with numbers always involves rounding to a finite number of decimal places.

Musicat, I obviously don't do all of those calculations every day. But I do some of them sometimes. Some days, I don't have to do any unit calculations at all, and some days, I do calculations which would be equally easy in either system. But I have never once in my life encountered a calculation which would be easier in the American system than in metric.

rat avatar
07-28-2017, 11:07 PM
Yes, most grocery stores list unit prices. But have you ever actually paid attention to them? Often, three competing products will have their unit prices listed as per ounce on one, per gram on another, and per package on the third.

rat avatar, are you seriously saying that the fact that you have to round numbers to a finite number of decimal places is a flaw of the metric system? That has nothing to do with the metric system; everything that humans ever have to do with numbers always involves rounding to a finite number of decimal places.

Musicat, I obviously don't do all of those calculations every day. But I do some of them sometimes. Some days, I don't have to do any unit calculations at all, and some days, I do calculations which would be equally easy in either system. But I have never once in my life encountered a calculation which would be easier in the American system than in metric.

First, Consumable goods (with few exemptions like beer )in the US have required BOTH to be listed on the packaging, Fair Packaging and Labeling Act requires this and it went into effect on February 14, 1994.

Second, humans haven't always used the decimal system so I would ask for a cite on that. This is General questions, and I was not aware that Arabic numerals were even used in Europe for all time. But yes, there are lots use cases where the compounding loss in precision caused by strict requirements of a base 10 decimal based system would be a problem and where maintaining rational representations result in far lower error.

Rounding multiple times or representation errors accumulate, and it is impractical to use guard digits (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guard_digit) for all use cases. Guard digits also have a problem of implying a precision that doesn't exist, so not only do you have to track long strings of zeros, you also have to more closely track the loss in precision.

Sometimes it is advantageous to have multiple methods particularly when they are all derived from the same basis units, which is exactly what all NIST units are, as they have exact SI definitions.

But lets be clear, in base 10, division and loss of precision is a 40% chance, with 1 irrational (7) and three repeating (3,6,9). Compare this to Dozenal that has a 25% chance (7,9,11). but that is a whole other ball of wax.

While there have always been limits on precision, we are talking about losses due to convention here. This loss is not due to the limitations of math, in fact they can be avoided with rational numbers by keeping them rational until the last operations.

But I am willing to change my mind so feel free to provide cites.

wolfpup
07-28-2017, 11:39 PM
America is doing it just right. We use measurements that make sense for what we're measuring.

Gallons works really well for gasoline, and we know instinctively how far a mile is. We don't need to do math in our heads to figure it out.

I know this part is from the ancient zombie section, but it's so cute I just had to quote it!

Apparently humans are born with an "instinctive" understanding of how far a mile is, built in to our DNA. Say "mile" to a newborn baby, and it will stare at you in instinctive comprehension (if you say it in just the right way it will giggle). Whereas those confusing Europeans and everybody else has to scratch their heads and memorize math stuff to figure out things like how many meters there are in a kilometer. :D

rat avatar
07-28-2017, 11:48 PM
I know this part is from the ancient zombie section, but it's so cute I just had to quote it!

Apparently humans are born with an "instinctive" understanding of how far a mile is, built in to our DNA. Say "mile" to a newborn baby, and it will stare at you in instinctive comprehension (if you say it in just the right way it will giggle). Whereas those confusing Europeans and everybody else has to scratch their heads and memorize math stuff to figure out things like how many meters there are in a kilometer. :D

I am not saying that is even remotely true, but oh the irony...unless you are saying the UK isn't in Europe

http://c8.alamy.com/comp/BHTJPB/warning-road-traffic-sign-badgers-for-3-miles-usk-wales-uk-BHTJPB.jpg

:)

Chronos
07-28-2017, 11:48 PM
Of course humans haven't always used base 10 place value. Who said that we did? What I said was that we've always had to round to a finite number of decimal places.
But lets be clear, in base 10, division and loss of precision is a 40% chance, with 1 irrational (7) and three repeating (3,6,9). Compare this to Dozenal that has a 25% chance (7,9,11). but that is a whole other ball of wax.
What in the world are you talking about here? The result of every calculation is always rounded, because the numbers you plugged into the calculation in the first place is also rounded. And since when is 1/7 irrational?

DPRK
07-29-2017, 12:09 AM
Am I required as a grocer to label items such as 1l bottles of beverages and 250g blocks of butter in non-metric units in the USA? What about in the UK?

Acsenray
07-29-2017, 12:11 AM
Am I required as a grocer to label items such as 1l bottles of beverages and 250g blocks of butter in non-metric units in the USA? What about in the UK?



The bottles are labeled by the manufacturer, not the grocer.

wolfpup
07-29-2017, 12:15 AM
I am not saying that is even remotely true, but oh the irony...unless you are saying the UK isn't in Europe

http://c8.alamy.com/comp/BHTJPB/warning-road-traffic-sign-badgers-for-3-miles-usk-wales-uk-BHTJPB.jpg

:)

No irony. Many countries continue to use mixed systems, with imperial measures commonplace for some purposes -- for instance, where I live Fahrenheit oven temperatures for cooking are routine alongside Celsius for weather and everything else, and both coexist in weight and volume measures for food pricing and recipes, although the metric quantities are the official legal ones. The point is that it's very unusual to not have codified metric as a national standard even if there are exceptions:
Since 2006, three countries formally do not use the metric system as their main standard of measurement: the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia. In the United Kingdom metric is the official system for most regulated trading by weight or measure purposes, but some imperial units remain the primary official unit of measurement. For example, miles, yards, and feet remain the official units for road signage – and use of imperial units is widespread. The Imperial pint also remains a permitted unit for milk in returnable bottles and for draught beer and cider in British pubs.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication

rat avatar
07-29-2017, 12:21 AM
Of course humans haven't always used base 10 place value. Who said that we did? What I said was that we've always had to round to a finite number of decimal places.

What in the world are you talking about here? The result of every calculation is always rounded, because the numbers you plugged into the calculation in the first place is also rounded. And since when is 1/7 irrational?

10/7

So what you are arguing is that integers are rounded? Once again I will ask for a cite on that one.

But also note how your response ignored the fact I was talking about cumulative error.

That cumulative error by forcing decimalization is very real.

1/3 == 1/3

1/3 !== 0.3 exactly

So lets say I want to divide up the IPK into three parts Do I need a scale that accurately reads out to 0.333333333 or I find three pieces that all weigh the same amount as the other two yet together weigh the same as the IPK?

Once again, this is not an argument that the customary units are better in all cases, it is an argument that the metric system is far from perfect, and may be unsuitable for some use cases.

Melbourne
07-29-2017, 12:26 AM
Other metric units used commonly by us Yanks include hertz, calories, watts, volts, amps and ohms. The last three have no Imperial equivalents, AFAIK.
Which is to say, they are imperial units which have metric equivilants.


You'll also hear a lot of metric when dealing with biomedical stuff, like a 10cc injection of epinephrine. This is basically because the Imperial system is completely useless when it comes to describing the length, weight and volume of really tiny things. The diameter of a DNA double helix is .00000007 inches? Pfft. It's 2 nm.

The imperial unit is Angstrom. The original description of DNA was 20 AU. But if you were working in some other field, the unit would be micro inch: DNA diametr is 0.1 uin.

[
That being said, I don't believe forcing the system on Americans will win it any fans. The fact that it is an inherently superior (IMHO) and more intuitive system combined with the necessity of using it just so we can interact with the rest of the world for commercial purposes will whittle away the last vesitiges of the Imperial system.

The French rationalised their measurenment systems to a French system, which Napoleon popularized. The English rationalized their measurement systems to an Imperial system, which their trade empire puplarized. Other countries have chosen to allign themselves with one or the other over the years. In the second half of the 20th centrurey, England turned their back to their traditional trading partners and choose closer union with the French and Germans.

It would be naive to believe that any kind of international standard had anything to do with what is "intuitive": one of the main purposes of standards is to lock out competing suppliers.

rat avatar
07-29-2017, 12:48 AM
No irony. Many countries continue to use mixed systems, with imperial measures commonplace for some purposes -- for instance, where I live Fahrenheit oven temperatures for cooking are routine alongside Celsius for weather and everything else, and both coexist in weight and volume measures for food pricing and recipes, although the metric quantities are the official legal ones. The point is that it's very unusual to not have codified metric as a national standard even if there are exceptions:
Since 2006, three countries formally do not use the metric system as their main standard of measurement: the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia. In the United Kingdom metric is the official system for most regulated trading by weight or measure purposes, but some imperial units remain the primary official unit of measurement. For example, miles, yards, and feet remain the official units for road signage – and use of imperial units is widespread. The Imperial pint also remains a permitted unit for milk in returnable bottles and for draught beer and cider in British pubs.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication

"main standard" is open to interpretation there.

As I noted above all US customary units are directly defined off of the SI units and have been so for a long time.

The above claim seems to be sophistry if like in the UK:

Distance signs are specified with miles or yards as the only allowable units. Vehicle height, width, and length limit signs are required to use feet and inches, with equivalent dimensions in metres, typically to one decimal place, allowed as optional secondary information.

It seems to be an arbitrary cutoff in a scale of Metrication.

The yard is defined1 as follows:
1 yard = 0.914 4 meter, and
1 inch = 25.4 millimeters exactly.

The avoirdupois pound is defined in terms of the kilogram by the relation:
1 avoirdupois pound = 0.453 592 37 kilogram.

What is the cutoff?

Federal Register, Vol. 56, No. 23, page 160, January 2, 1991

SUMMARY: 15 CFR part 19 subpart B sets
out Federal Government policy on the
voluntary use of the metric system of
measurement by agencies, industry and
the public. In conformance with the
Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness
Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-418, section
5164), we are revising that subpart to
remove the voluntary aspect of metric
transition for Federal agencies. The
amended subpart B provides policy
direction to assist Federal agencies in
their transition to use of the metric
system of measurement.
EFFECTIVE DATE: February 1, 1991

https://cdn.loc.gov/service/ll/fedreg/fr056/fr056001/fr056001.pdf

I have searched for clarification on what the "official" bar is in this claim, but it seems to be escaping my searches.

So if you can provide a cite on what that bar is it would be appreciated.

Chronos
07-29-2017, 08:43 AM
Quoth rat avatar:

So what you are arguing is that integers are rounded? Once again I will ask for a cite on that one.
Where in the world are you finding integers? When can you ever possibly know that you have an integer number of units of anything? The only place that'll ever happen is that you know that the mass of one particular lump of platinum-iridium alloy in Paris is exactly integer 1 kilograms. And if I ever, for some reason, have need to refer to exactly one third of that mass, I'll say "one third of a kilogram". There, 100% metric and no rounding whatsoever.

In the real world if I'm measuring flour or something, and the recipe calls for 1 kg but I'm dividing the recipe by 3, then I'll use 333 grams of flour, which will be perfectly fine, because I never knew that original kilogram to one-gram precision anyway. And if I'm doing some more sophisticated chemistry experiment where I need more precision, then I'll get out my analytical balance and measure out 333333333 micrograms. And if I need infinite precision, then I'm screwed no matter what system of units I'm using, because it's impossible to measure anything to infinite precision in any system of units.

The difference here isn't that the American system lets you measure 1/3 of something precisely, because it doesn't. The difference is that the American system lets you pretend that you can measure 1/3 of something even when you can't, and pretending you can do something when you can't is going to get you into a lot of trouble.

Flyer
07-29-2017, 09:26 AM
OK, Flyer, since you claim to understand the American system: Suppose you have a fish tank, that's 18 inches wide, 48 inches long, and 24 inches tall. How many gallons will it hold? Can you figure it out even with a calculator? Because given the equivalent metric problem, I can do it in my head.

I've got a recipe that calls for a tablespoon of something. But that recipe is for three servings, and I'm making it for 50. I don't want to measure out sixteen tablespoons; that's obviously a better job for a measuring cup. So, how many cups do I need?

If I tell you the torque of an engine in foot-pounds and its RPM, can you tell me its horsepower? Because if you tell me the torque in newton-meters and the rotation speed in radians per second, I can easily tell you the wattage.

The one time per decade that I actually needed and/or wanted to know any of that stuff, it would be quite easy to pull out my calculator.

I find it telling that you have to resort to such obscure examples in order to try to invalidate traditional measurements.


That's easy, 1/3 kg, 1/8 kg, and 1/16 kg, and why am I looking on my measuring cup instead of on my scale?

That's your problem right there. The people who think that metric is such a good system have a fundamentally warped view of measurements in general. You had to come up with a whole new way of measuring ingredients in order to make the metric system work. (And no, I am not joking.)

pulykamell
07-29-2017, 09:45 AM
The cooking one is actually easy. One cup is sixteen tablespoons. Anyone who does a lot of cooking should know that. The rest? Forget it. I agree that metric is an easier approach to measurements for most things.

Chronos
07-29-2017, 10:51 AM
The idea of measuring ingredients by weight rather than volume is completely independent of the question of metric vs. American (it just so coincidentally happens that America is the only major holdout on volume for dry ingredients, too). I only mentioned a scale because you asked about kilograms of flour. If you had asked for liters of flour instead, then a measuring cup would be the appropriate tool to use, and the answer would have been the same: The amount needed would be 1/3 liter, 1/8 liter, or 1/16 liter.
Quoth pulykamell:

The cooking one is actually easy. One cup is sixteen tablespoons. Anyone who does a lot of cooking should know that.
Should, maybe, but how many actually do? I'd wager that most don't, especially among the subset of the population who claim to not understand metric.

watchwolf49
07-29-2017, 11:42 AM
Using a calculator, it's 89.8 US gallons. I suppose I could have done it in my head, but dividing by 231 would be a bit of a bother ... [snip]

I converted inches into feet then divided by 7.2 and came up with 90 gallons in my head ... but this is a type of problem I do on a regular basis ... as in how many 35-gallon barrels makes up 3/4 yd3 ...

[snip] ... Should, maybe, but how many actually do? I'd wager that most don't, especially among the subset of the population who claim to not understand metric.

Maybe you'd be surprised ... you've used an extreme example, 1 tablespoon for a fifty fold batch ... similarly we can present an equally difficult problem in metric, 225 ml for a batch 37-1/4 fold ...

I remember the effort here in the US to convert to metric ... for many older folks the problem was the conversion factors ... how many ml's for 3-5/8 cups ... how many metric shingles to cover a 16 by 12 foot roof ... how many kilometers across 7 sections ...

How many feet per second to land a probe on Mars ...

Tradition is strong ... to this very day, SI uses 60 seconds to a minute ... the same as in the very first written records humans created ... the only people who don't use this standard is UNIX-weenies ... I'm not saying this is right or wrong, just that it is ...

DPRK
07-29-2017, 12:05 PM
Decimal time never caught on even in France, so tradition clearly has a large influence on people's inclinations.

I have heard that decimal time was used in China, and I would like more details, possibly from a historian.

Units like minutes and hours are of course not SI units, but their use is considered acceptable. (In the EU, the intention was to make it illegal to label consumer products in British units alongside metric units, but they eventually relented. Not before a grocer was convicted of selling produce in Imperial measurements.)

rat avatar
07-29-2017, 01:32 PM
Where in the world are you finding integers? When can you ever possibly know that you have an integer number of units of anything? The only place that'll ever happen is that you know that the mass of one particular lump of platinum-iridium alloy in Paris is exactly integer 1 kilograms. And if I ever, for some reason, have need to refer to exactly one third of that mass, I'll say "one third of a kilogram". There, 100% metric and no rounding whatsoever.

In the real world if I'm measuring flour or something, and the recipe calls for 1 kg but I'm dividing the recipe by 3, then I'll use 333 grams of flour, which will be perfectly fine, because I never knew that original kilogram to one-gram precision anyway. And if I'm doing some more sophisticated chemistry experiment where I need more precision, then I'll get out my analytical balance and measure out 333333333 micrograms. And if I need infinite precision, then I'm screwed no matter what system of units I'm using, because it's impossible to measure anything to infinite precision in any system of units.

The difference here isn't that the American system lets you measure 1/3 of something precisely, because it doesn't. The difference is that the American system lets you pretend that you can measure 1/3 of something even when you can't, and pretending you can do something when you can't is going to get you into a lot of trouble.

One fish, two fish three fish.

But I know because it is a convention, just like decimal. And there are some conventions like the field of geometry that absolutely do not fit the claims above.

Are you really arguing that a^2 + b^2 = c^2 intrinsically has rounding errors?

DPRK
07-29-2017, 01:48 PM
My take on this was that if you measure a length using a ruler, the measurement always has a degree of precision, so you get 30 plus or minus 0.1 mm, for example. This is clearly the case with any unit length and any way of subdividing it, nothing to do with decimals. Or with ideal geometry where you say segment A is sqrt(5)-1 times as long as segment B.

DPRK
07-29-2017, 01:55 PM
Btw here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kahan_summation_algorithm) is one proper algorithm for adding finite-precision decimal numbers. It can be done.

wolfpup
07-29-2017, 02:22 PM
"main standard" is open to interpretation there.

As I noted above all US customary units are directly defined off of the SI units and have been so for a long time.

The above claim seems to be sophistry if like in the UK:



It seems to be an arbitrary cutoff in a scale of Metrication.

The fact that US traditional units are officially defined in terms of metric units is completely irrelevant to common usage and therefore to this discussion. Argue for metric or against it, but you surely are not trying to argue that this bit of esoterica somehow makes the US a metric country? It has as little relevance in typical usage as the official definitions of the base metric units themselves. When I'm measuring a carpet for the family room I really have zero concern with whether a meter is defined in terms of the earth's geometry, the distance between scratches on a platinum-iridium bar in Paris, or how far light travels in a vacuum in some tiny fraction of a second. I only care that everyone is using the same units and that my tape measure reasonably conforms to it!

The meaning of "main standard" is not complicated. Outside of the three named countries -- the US, Myanmar, and Liberia -- everything is metric with specific enumerated exceptions. Weather reports and forecasts are in Celsius degrees, all or almost all food items and commodities are sold in grams, kilograms, milliliters or litres, etc, and that includes the UK. That there are exceptions doesn't change the predominant system of measures. Admittedly, the use of miles and MPH and the like for road signage is a rather surprisingly big exception in the UK, but they use metric for just about everything else.

Anyway, this was all a digression from my comment in #80, where I found it quite humorous that someone had declared that traditional units were superior because humans have an "instinctive" understanding of how far a mile is. Apparently we're born with it. Whereas one assumes by implication that only French communists have any idea how far a kilometer is, and it's doubtful that even they know! :D

kanicbird
07-29-2017, 03:38 PM
...

I think metric is the way to go, with one major exception: temperature. The Centigrade scale (not Celsius, since he got it backwards) is inferior to Fahrenheit because (purely by chance), Fahrenheit's scale is perfect for the main reason people want to know the temperature: the weather. 0-100 Fahrenheit is a pretty neat match to the normal extremes in temperature and gives you a great basis for comparison.

Well that's the rub, the imperial system is based on human life experiences. Metric is not. Imperial will always be a more natural unit of measurement than metric, though if born under metric rule one can adapt and live a perfectly normal life.

Chronos
07-29-2017, 03:44 PM
Quoth watchwolf49:

I remember the effort here in the US to convert to metric ... for many older folks the problem was the conversion factors ... how many ml's for 3-5/8 cups ... how many metric shingles to cover a 16 by 12 foot roof ... how many kilometers across 7 sections ...
Well of course metric is difficult if you don't use it. The whole point to going metric is that you're not converting ml to cups, or kilometers to sections.

kanicbird, what human life experience is the mile based on?

wolfpup
07-29-2017, 03:52 PM
Well that's the rub, the imperial system is based on human life experiences. Metric is not. Imperial will always be a more natural unit of measurement than metric, though if born under metric rule one can adapt and live a perfectly normal life.

Actually, imperial measures are based on medieval concepts like the size of the King's limbs and appendages. Metric comes from a period of science and enlightenment and an attempt to have measures based on rationalism. Although at least you acknowledge that it might be possible to "live a normal life" despite the misfortune of being born under "metric rule", which I take it to mean something like "metric dictatorship". :D

Personally I don't see how it's possible to live a normal life measuring distances in kilometers. I mean, you always have to remember that there are 1000 meters in one (or worse, that there are 500 meters in half a kilometer or 4000 meters in 4 kilometers), instead of the natural order of things based on human experience that a mile contains 5,280 units the length of the King's feet, or 1,760 units of the distance from King Henry I's nose to the thumb of his out-stretched arm. Yet somehow virtually the whole world manages to do it. ;)

rat avatar
07-29-2017, 07:49 PM
The fact that US traditional units are officially defined in terms of metric units is completely irrelevant to common usage and therefore to this discussion. Argue for metric or against it, but you surely are not trying to argue that this bit of esoterica somehow makes the US a metric country? It has as little relevance in typical usage as the official definitions of the base metric units themselves. When I'm measuring a carpet for the family room I really have zero concern with whether a meter is defined in terms of the earth's geometry, the distance between scratches on a platinum-iridium bar in Paris, or how far light travels in a vacuum in some tiny fraction of a second. I only care that everyone is using the same units and that my tape measure reasonably conforms to it!

The meaning of "main standard" is not complicated. Outside of the three named countries -- the US, Myanmar, and Liberia -- everything is metric with specific enumerated exceptions. Weather reports and forecasts are in Celsius degrees, all or almost all food items and commodities are sold in grams, kilograms, milliliters or litres, etc, and that includes the UK. That there are exceptions doesn't change the predominant system of measures. Admittedly, the use of miles and MPH and the like for road signage is a rather surprisingly big exception in the UK, but they use metric for just about everything else.

Anyway, this was all a digression from my comment in #80, where I found it quite humorous that someone had declared that traditional units were superior because humans have an "instinctive" understanding of how far a mile is. Apparently we're born with it. Whereas one assumes by implication that only French communists have any idea how far a kilometer is, and it's doubtful that even they know! :D

First of all, Celsius is not the SI unit of temperature, that is Kelvin,

And outside of a metaphysical differentiation, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act required almost universal dual labeling in 1991.

To me the primary issue is that the world use the same basis units, which has been true for the US for over a century.

But you may want to google 'Directive 2007/45/EC' which recently deregulated packaging in the EU to allow more customary units to be the packaging size.

But as legal documents are easier for me to read in English let me stick to the UK:

*the mile, yard, foot and inch for road traffic signs, distance and speed measurement,
*the imperial pint for the dispensing of draught beer and cider, and for the sale of milk in returnable containers,
* the acre for land registration,[f]
* the troy ounce for transaction in precious metals.[70][99][100]


So yes that claim seems to be arbitrary, All US federal agency are compelled to use the Metric system, almost all food stuffs require dual labeling, and all units are just offsets off of the SI units (Like Celsius). So really if we ignore the road signs, and real-estate exceptions that allows the UK to claim, it is only the sale of fuel etc...that really differs.

The arbitrary, undefined threshold for the claim above seems clearly to be based on selection bias. As this is General Questions how about a cite or a definition of what that bar is?

Because to me it is not so obvious, this is obviously not a binary state and various stages of metrication are in place around the world.

Heck even in Canada it is a mix, where wine is sold by the ml, but served in restaurants by the OZ, and beef is advertised and sold by the pound.

Canada has metric speed and distance signs, so are they more advanced than the UK?

But the primary issue is that the above claim is making a moral judgement, and this site shows that it is fokelore and misinformation.

Folklore suggests that three countries don’t use the metric system — the U.S., Liberia, and Myanmar/Burma — while all others do. In reality, virtually all countries use the metric system, and the question of who is and isn’t metric (see below) is difficult to answer. (https://web.archive.org/web/20121004023803/http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/faq.html#how-tell)

So in the spirit of "fighting ignorance" I am asking for cites, and to be clear outside of the special use cases I have explained before I am not anti-SI, but I also don't think it is a huge priority.

Almost all of the big media stories about conversion errors like the Mars Climate Orbiter were due to people not directly calling out the units, and while the metric system solves some very common issues it mandates that you call out units for all critical functions. The addition of µ, c, d, da, h, k, M, etc.. prefixes require it (but it is good form anyway)

silenus
07-29-2017, 09:05 PM
Everybody is forgetting the heinous origin of the metric system, and why it is shunned by all right-thinking people of the world:


It's French.

bump
07-29-2017, 09:14 PM
Coke has come back out with 16.9 oz plastic bottles in twelve packs just recently.

Which happen to be 500ml bottles...

septimus
07-29-2017, 09:17 PM
If suddenly we began selling gasoline at 36 cents a liter and measured the power in Kilowatts, the average American would think somebody had found out a new way to cheat him.

True 15 years ago and true today.

It's why clever businesses have been using European for electrical measurements. They sell us an expensive 15-watt new-fangled light bulb and try to tell us it's the same as a 60-watt real lightbulb. Americans would catch on quicker if they told the truth in American units: 15 watts is only about a fiftieth of a horse-power. (How many dog-power is that?)

Turning my thermostat from 72 to 73 would produce a more subtle change than turning it from 23 to 24. I like that

This is a real problem at my home. A thermostat setting of 28 is too warm and 27 is too cool. I'd like to set it at 27.5 but that is not an option. Instead I alternate between 28 and 27 every 15 minutes or so, based on wife's prodding!

silenus
07-29-2017, 09:28 PM
Which happen to be 500ml bottles...

Just a heads-up, bump. Reeder's been dead for 5 years.

pulykamell
07-29-2017, 09:29 PM
Should, maybe, but how many actually do? I'd wager that most don't, especially among the subset of the population who claim to not understand metric.

Good question. I suppose it depends on how you define "experienced cooks." I was taught from a relatively early age (even before cooking) that the units go: 1 teaspoon, then 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon, then 4 tablespoons in a quarter cup, then obviously 4 of those for a cup, two cups to a pint, two pints to a quart, four quarts to a gallon. Oh, and 8 fluid ounces to a cup.
Yeah, that is a whole mess of confusing, isn't it?

What does tick me off is doing recipes by weight in Imperial. Scaling them is a bit of a pain in the ass, especially since my scale doesn't do ounces past a certain point and goes to pounds and ounces. So if I scale a recipe and end up with 58 ounces, I have to divide by 16 and then take the remainder to find it's 3 pounds, 10 ounces. For that reason, I do all my by weight recipes (like baked goods and bulk sausage) in metric units. So much easier to deal with.

septimus
07-29-2017, 10:02 PM
Btw here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kahan_summation_algorithm) is one proper algorithm for adding finite-precision decimal numbers. It can be done.

Kahan summation isn't really related to the non-binariness of ten — if that's your concern, just multiple all your "mils" (or whatever) by 1000 and work with integers.

But Kahan summation is a beautiful little method! I am perfectionistic enough that I use Kahan's method, e.g. when calculating statistical moments. One big caveat for the C programmer:

/* Do NOT compile this with any compiler optimization !
* The optimizer would "figure out" that kp->carry is being set to zero
* and eliminate the essence of the method!
*/
double kahan_add(double addend, struct Floatsum *kp)
{
double y = addend - kp->carry;
double tmp = kp->sum + y;
kp->carry = (tmp - kp->sum) - y;
kp->sum = tmp;
return kp->sum + kp->carry;
}

septimus
07-29-2017, 10:04 PM
... the American system [is] FAR, FAR, FAR more intuitive and convenient than the idiotic metric system.

A foot is very close to the length of the average adult foot. The metric system has no equivalent....

25 mph is a good speed for a residential street, which is appropriate, since it's a fairly small number....

Aha! Maybe this explains why America and Europe have diverged: different physical sizes and conditions.

Many Americans weigh about 200 pounds — a nice round number. Europeans are more petite and weigh just 65 kilograms. (Who'd ask them to remember they weigh 143.3 pounds?)

Similarly, Americans are good enough drivers for 25 mph, while Europeans need the more pusillanimous 30 kph.

Balthisar
07-29-2017, 11:32 PM
Medicine has been metric since at least the 40's, when my mother got her training.

Years after I learned that her idiosyncratic pronunciation of metric terms was a linguistic marker for American medical doctors.

Examples? I'm a bit curious. Doctors probably don't deal in kilometers much, but I'm in the "kill-AH-mudder" camp.

watchwolf49
07-30-2017, 12:37 AM
Well of course metric is difficult if you don't use it. The whole point to going metric is that you're not converting ml to cups, or kilometers to sections.

Right ... if we start with metric, then we're not bothered by conversions ... but if grandma's recipe for dumplings is in cups and pinches, we'd have to convert the metric ... and roads are laid out every mile in most of the US, we're not tearing them all up to put them every kilometer ...

Townships are typically 6 miles by 6 miles ... not sure we're going to re-survey the whole of the USA ... that means conversion factors forevermore ...

Melbourne
07-30-2017, 05:31 AM
Examples? I'm a bit curious. Doctors probably don't deal in kilometers much, but I'm in the "kill-AH-mudder" camp.

The one I found in the linquistics text book was sontometer. The standard pronunciation in Aus is closer to cent-a-meter, and I had no idea where she got that wierd stuff from.

BigT
07-30-2017, 05:51 AM
a^2 + b^2 = c^2 does have rounding when applied to the real world. The second you put measurements on a, b, and c, then you will have to round, as you cannot measure without rounding.

Sure, if you are in the hypothetical world of mathematics, you can define something as having a specific exact measurement. But that's not the real world.

As for whether metric is better, I agree the math is easier in your head. But my question is simply "how often do I need to make unit conversions in my head?" It rarely comes up, except in small cases like multiplying a recipe by a fraction, and then I usually do know the answer in my head.

I think the best case for switching to metric is simply that everyone else has done it, and we might as well. The best case for not doing so is that there will be a period of confusion as we acclimate to the new system. Neither is particularly compelling to me, but the latter will keep the US away until it actually has to worry about the former being an issue.

And computers have basically eliminated that as an issue, even if the U.S. loses its prominence.

BigT
07-30-2017, 05:53 AM
Apparently the answer to the OP's question is simply that these bottle sizes came about when a lot of people were trying to get the U.S. to convert to metric, and stayed even when that failed because people were used to them.

Chronos
07-30-2017, 08:45 AM
The American system has three main drawbacks, compared to metric, and I deliberately alluded to all three in the sample problems I gave up-thread. The least of the problems is that there are so many conversion factors to learn, like three teaspoons to the tablespoon, two tablespoons to the ounce, and 231 cubic inches to the gallon. Those are annoying to learn, and a lot of people don't know a lot of them, but you can still work with a unit system that works that way.

A bigger problem is that the unit system isn't what's called coherent: In a coherent system, the product or quotient of base units will always be another base unit. For instance, power is a mass times a length squared divided by a time cubed, so in a coherent system, the unit of power will be the unit of mass times the square of the unit of length divided by the cube of the unit of time. This happens in metric, where the relevant units are the watt, the kilogram, the meter, and the second, but not in American, where they're the horsepower, the slug, the foot, and the second. This doesn't usually affect laymen, but it's a huge nuisance for scientists and engineers, who deal with such compound quantities all the time.

The third and most serious problem with the American system is that it isn't a standard. People use the same words to mean many different things. "Pound" usually means the weight of 454 grams, unless you're talking about precious metals, in which case it's less. Or unless you're using it to mean the mass of 454 grams, in which case you have a separate unit called the "poundal" for forces. Or maybe you use "pound" to mean both the weight and the force, and have to stick g in all over the place in formulas that have nothing to do with Earth's gravity. "Ounce" can be a weight or a volume, and even for water (supposedly the basis), the two don't quite agree. A "ton" can be long or short. A pint's a pound the world around, as long as by "the world" you mean "only the US, not anywhere in the British Commonwealth, where a pint of water is a pound and a quarter. This one is a problem for everyone, and if a unit doesn't mean the same thing for everyone, it's useless.

Acsenray
07-30-2017, 09:11 AM
The American system has three main drawbacks, compared to metric, and I deliberately alluded to all three in the sample problems I gave up-thread. The least of the problems is that there are so many conversion factors to learn, like three teaspoons to the tablespoon, two tablespoons to the ounce, and 231 cubic inches to the gallon. Those are annoying to learn, and a lot of people don't know a lot of them, but you can still work with a unit system that works that way.

A bigger problem is that the unit system isn't what's called coherent: In a coherent system, the product or quotient of base units will always be another base unit. For instance, power is a mass times a length squared divided by a time cubed, so in a coherent system, the unit of power will be the unit of mass times the square of the unit of length divided by the cube of the unit of time. This happens in metric, where the relevant units are the watt, the kilogram, the meter, and the second, but not in American, where they're the horsepower, the slug, the foot, and the second. This doesn't usually affect laymen, but it's a huge nuisance for scientists and engineers, who deal with such compound quantities all the time.

The third and most serious problem with the American system is that it isn't a standard. People use the same words to mean many different things. "Pound" usually means the weight of 454 grams, unless you're talking about precious metals, in which case it's less. Or unless you're using it to mean the mass of 454 grams, in which case you have a separate unit called the "poundal" for forces. Or maybe you use "pound" to mean both the weight and the force, and have to stick g in all over the place in formulas that have nothing to do with Earth's gravity. "Ounce" can be a weight or a volume, and even for water (supposedly the basis), the two don't quite agree. A "ton" can be long or short. A pint's a pound the world around, as long as by "the world" you mean "only the US, not anywhere in the British Commonwealth, where a pint of water is a pound and a quarter. This one is a problem for everyone, and if a unit doesn't mean the same thing for everyone, it's useless.



None of these things are problems for people who are driving to work, checking the weather, buying groceries, etc.

Scientists have already switched to metric, decades ago. The only question left is to use government authority to force a change for consumer, retail purposes, and other non-scientific purposes.

Industry and commerce will change if and when the benefits outweigh the costs for any particular application.

Chronos
07-30-2017, 11:16 AM
None of these things are problems for people who are driving to work, checking the weather, buying groceries, etc.
They can be. For instance, a company could switch from measuring their product in fluid ounces to weight ounces, decrease the size by 10%, and leave the labels almost the same so customers can't tell the difference.

DPRK
07-30-2017, 11:28 AM
The gallon = 277 cubic inches, except when it's 231 or 268 or whatever, has been known to affect "people". For example when getting ripped off on tax duties, or being served a US pint of beer.

Reminds me of the genius attempt to redefine a kilobyte as 1024 bytes (2.4% free!), and traces of that are unfortunately still with us.

ETA what Chronos said. And there are documented cases of this sort of thing.

Acsenray
07-30-2017, 11:36 AM
They can be. For instance, a company could switch from measuring their product in fluid ounces to weight ounces, decrease the size by 10%, and leave the labels almost the same so customers can't tell the difference.


Could they? Would they? Have they? Will they? Is this pure speculation or is it a significant social problem that requires new mandates regarding units of measure that are inadequately addressed by current labeling and fraud laws?

DPRK
07-30-2017, 12:03 PM
From the Turk Islands (http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/TCI/New_Measures_To_Improve_Tci_Finances_And_Prioritise_Spending_printer.shtml):

These revenue generating measures, which take effect from 1 December 2011, are: The Customs Processing Fee, which is levied on all imports, will be increased from 4% to 6%. This will generate an additional $2m this financial year and $6m in 2012/13. A switch from the Imperial Gallon to the US Gallon for the purposes of import duty and fuel tax calculations. With one Imperial Gallon equivalent to 1.2 US Gallons, and most beverages and fuel imported from the US, this simplifies how the tariff is calculated.


"Simplifies." Right.

The US labelling requirement does require the quantity in metric units, but if it's in fine print or parenthetical then discrepancies are less obvious.

Relevant to the OP's question, this (https://www.nist.gov/document-15122) 2009 NIST report found that 17% of products were labelled in metric units only. Progress?

Chronos
07-30-2017, 12:16 PM
Let me give you another example, that really did affect me in a real way which could happen to almost any ordinary person. Some years back, I went on a vacation to Ireland. One of the B&Bs we stayed at had really good brown bread, and they had the recipe available. I happily took a copy of the recipe, and tried to make it when I got home. I can't, because I have no idea what any of the quantities are. I tried making it assuming Imperial units, and that didn't work. I tried making it assuming American units (in case the innkeeper "helpfully" translated it for benefit of American tourists), and that didn't work, either. I think that the innkeeper might have translated the units, but missed some that she didn't realize were different in the US and British Isles.

wolfpup
07-30-2017, 02:24 PM
First of all, Celsius is not the SI unit of temperature, that is Kelvin,
I never brought up SI units, you did. SI units and the metric system as it's commonly understood and adopted are not the same thing.
To me the primary issue is that the world use the same basis units, which has been true for the US for over a century.
To me the primary issue is obviously what people actually use, and what is mandated for commerce. The official derivation algorithms are utterly irrelevant. As I said, when I'm measuring a carpet for the family room in meters, I am utterly unconcerned about the speed of light from which the meter derived.
But as legal documents are easier for me to read in English let me stick to the UK:
I've already agreed with you that virtually all countries have measurement systems that can be described as "mixed" though they vary in how deeply you have to dig to find the anomalies. Britain is a bit odd in their continued use of imperial measures for traffic signage, but still, if your list of non-metric exceptions consists of four bullet points your case is pretty weak.
Heck even in Canada it is a mix, where wine is sold by the ml, but served in restaurants by the OZ, and beef is advertised and sold by the pound.
Not true, or more accurately, misleading. Wine is not "served in restaurants by the ounce" in the sense that no one orders "x" ounces of wine. You may be able to order a small carafe or a glass of wine instead of a whole bottle and the menu may tell you its size in traditional units, but all retail sales are mandated to be metric. Beef and other produce might be advertised by the pound, especially when on sale to emphasize a low price in what the grocer might feel are more familiar terms, but the packaged price or the butcher counter sign is always metric (usually $ per kg for raw meats, or per 100 or 200 grams for deli counter stuff). I'm sure that these quirky caterings to tradition will eventually vanish.
Canada has metric speed and distance signs, so are they more advanced than the UK?
Not "more advanced", just more consistently metricated.
So in the spirit of "fighting ignorance" I am asking for cites, and to be clear outside of the special use cases I have explained before I am not anti-SI, but I also don't think it is a huge priority.
My cite is this map (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_system#/media/File:Metric_system.png), and the article that accompanies it. My cite is also the CIA Factbook, mentioned here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication_in_the_United_States) as stating that "the United States [is] one of only three countries, as of 2016, with Myanmar (Burma) and Liberia, that have not adopted, or are not in the process of adopting, the metric system as their official system of weights and measures". My cite is also the complete failure of Carter-era attempts at metrification in the 70s and the hostility directed at it, including shooting down early metric road signs, and the eventual disbanding of the United States Metric Board in 1982.

This is a real problem at my home. A thermostat setting of 28 is too warm and 27 is too cool. I'd like to set it at 27.5 but that is not an option. Instead I alternate between 28 and 27 every 15 minutes or so, based on wife's prodding!
I realize this is a joke, but FTR, every Celsius thermostat I've ever seen is adjustable in (at least) 0.5 degree increments, and generally has a hysteresis of plus and minus 0.5 degrees or less.

rat avatar
07-30-2017, 03:29 PM
Let me give you another example, that really did affect me in a real way which could happen to almost any ordinary person. Some years back, I went on a vacation to Ireland. One of the B&Bs we stayed at had really good brown bread, and they had the recipe available. I happily took a copy of the recipe, and tried to make it when I got home. I can't, because I have no idea what any of the quantities are. I tried making it assuming Imperial units, and that didn't work. I tried making it assuming American units (in case the innkeeper "helpfully" translated it for benefit of American tourists), and that didn't work, either. I think that the innkeeper might have translated the units, but missed some that she didn't realize were different in the US and British Isles.

Once again, this is a problem with people not specifying units of measure, and can be a problem within a single measuring system too.

Teaspoons vs tablespoons vs grams vs milliliters. I mostly work within the metric system, and have challenges with people not marking milli, micro and nano.

rat avatar
07-30-2017, 03:51 PM
I never brought up SI units, you did. SI units and the metric system as it's commonly understood and adopted are not the same thing.

To me the primary issue is obviously what people actually use, and what is mandated for commerce. The official derivation algorithms are utterly irrelevant. As I said, when I'm measuring a carpet for the family room in meters, I am utterly unconcerned about the speed of light from which the meter derived.

I've already agreed with you that virtually all countries have measurement systems that can be described as "mixed" though they vary in how deeply you have to dig to find the anomalies. Britain is a bit odd in their continued use of imperial measures for traffic signage, but still, if your list of non-metric exceptions consists of four bullet points your case is pretty weak.

My cite is this map (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_system#/media/File:Metric_system.png), and the article that accompanies it. My cite is also the CIA Factbook, mentioned here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication_in_the_United_States) as stating that "the United States [is] one of only three countries, as of 2016, with Myanmar (Burma) and Liberia, that have not adopted, or are not in the process of adopting, the metric system as their official system of weights and measures". My cite is also the complete failure of Carter-era attempts at metrification in the 70s and the hostility directed at it, including shooting down early metric road signs, and the eventual disbanding of the United States Metric Board in 1982.

I realize this is a joke, but FTR, every Celsius thermostat I've ever seen is adjustable in (at least) 0.5 degree increments, and generally has a hysteresis of plus and minus 0.5 degrees or less.

First "The Metric System" outside of SI is not cohesive nor universal and in fact there were three major completely different versions. The SI is what countries adopted, and not one of the random other versions.

Second the UK, Canada and other countries also had issues in the 70's with metrification and in fact the conversion to metric sales of goods was completed in 2000, when the dual labeling and US government agency transition happened in the early 1990s.

EEC issued directive 71/354/EEC. This directive catalogued units of measure that could be used for "economic, public health, public safety and administrative purposes"

The bolding is mine:

This is the rule that lead to metrification of the EU, and the UK.

Outside of gold, which no one follows, the US Federal government agencies that handle those functions are required to use Metric.

In the UK:

imperial units are widely encountered in unregulated areas such as the press and everyday speech, SI or units approved for use alongside SI are used in most areas where units of measure are regulated.

As for wine, the sub-bottle serving size is simply the glass:

9 oz glass of wine (14% alcohol) = 2 standard drinks (http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/sites/default/files/LRDG_StandardDrink.pdf)

Note the quantities on there for 'A Canadian “standard drink”'. It is also an oz in the regulations for pours.

It is far more messy that the folklore pretends.

markn+
07-30-2017, 04:22 PM
It never fails to amaze me how many people believe that myth. I absolutely guarantee that EVERYBODY who understands the American system knows why we stick with it.


As an American who fully understand the American system, I don't know why we stick with it, so you're wrong there.


A foot is very close to the length of the average adult foot. The metric system has no equivalent.


How on earth is that useful? If a foot were exactly the length of every adult's foot, it would indeed be useful, because everyone would effectively be carrying a ruler with them all the time (although it would be rather inconvenient to have to remove your shoes to measure something). But how is the fact that a foot slightly longer than most adult's feet useful? Do you often measure your feet, and not care about a couple inches of error?


A yard is about twice the length from the wrist to the shoulder.

So is a meter. But again, how is this useful? Do you often need to measure twice the distance from your wrist to your shoulder, and get an answer that's only accurate to within a few inches?

Height of people is measured in a conveniently-small number -- 5 feet, 6 feet, etc. Why in the name of common sense would anybody want to say 1.xx meters, or (alternatively) have to use literally hundreds of centimeters?


Very few people are exactly five feet or exactly six feet tall. Height is normally given in feet and inches, which is TWO small numbers. You have to use two numbers because neither feet nor inches is convenient (in your sense) for this measurement. You're ok with saying that you weigh 165 pounds, but it's unreasonable to say that your height is 165 centimeters? Why is 165 an ok number in the domain of human weight but not in the domain of human height?


We have ounces and pints for small amounts of liquid, and gallons and barrels for large amounts.


Yes, how HANDY it is to switch between several different units which are difficult to interconvert, depending on the size of what you're measuring


When the temperature hits zero, we know that it's actually cold, not warm enough for a light coat. You clearly have no conception of how annoying it would be to have to use negative numbers on a daily basis for months on end.


This obviously depends on where you live. Large parts of the US already deal with negative (Fahrenheit) temperatures for much of the winter. And it's a lot more useful to immediately recognize whether it's below the freezing point of water, rather than to know that it's below some arbitrary "really cold" temperature.


25 mph is a good speed for a residential street, which is appropriate, since it's a fairly small number.

And 40 km/hr is so obviously unusable by normal humans.


A standard city block is 1/10 of a mile.


Actually a standard city block in most cities is 1/8 of a mile, but it's interesting that you'd prefer that it be a decimal fraction.

markn+
07-30-2017, 04:40 PM
And I have to say, as a woodworker, this feet, inches and fractions crap is a HUGE pain in the ass. I've got a board that's 5' 7 3/8" long and I need to drill a hole equidistant from both ends. Where does it go? I've got a board that's 5 1/16" wide and I need to route a 3/4" groove 1 3/8" from one edge. How far is it from the other edge? I waste so much time with these kinds of inconvenient calculations constantly in my woodwork. It would be SO much easier in metric.

silenus
07-30-2017, 04:55 PM
So what's stopping you? Last time I checked you could get measuring devices in either system. So use metric tapes and measures.

rat avatar
07-30-2017, 05:04 PM
=
Actually a standard city block in most cities is 1/8 of a mile, but it's interesting that you'd prefer that it be a decimal fraction.

The typical historical standard in the UK territories was a Gunter's chain which was 66' long, with 100 links, broken into 10 segments.

It was actually introduced to deal with a move from base 4 to decimal, as a simple divide by 10 resulted in calculations in acres.

25 links = rod
10 chains = furlong
80 chains = statue mile.

After they invented transits, or more importantly Vernier gauges, which show fractions the methods mostly changed to calculated angles.

But in most of the US the main large unit of surveying is the township that is six by six miles square.

The township is usually divided into 36 sections, each one mile square.

Each Section was divided into 640 acres, because it was trivial to divide into quarters or quarter-quarters and have full acre subdivided parts.

In 1832 the smallest area of land that could be acquired from raw land was this 40-acre quarter-quarter, and this is the reason for 40 acres and a mule.

Later on they added the half of a quarter-quarter-quarter section = 5 acres which is exactly 50 square chains, which is fairly easy to survey with limited technology and still easily divisible without fractions.

There is really no standard for the size of a city block, and often it was at the whim of a developer or market realities. Most of the newer "planned" structures tend to be easy fractions of Gunter's chain or quartering of a township in the US.

Also note that lots of "metric" countries still use this system for measuring land. The cost and complexity of changing every single deed and marker greatly outweighs the benefits.

Chronos
07-30-2017, 05:05 PM
Quoth rat avatar:

Once again, this is a problem with people not specifying units of measure, and can be a problem within a single measuring system too.
Not at all: The recipe very clearly indicated teaspoons, tablespoons, pints, and so on. I just don't know which teaspoons, tablespoons, and pints. You need to specify when you're using those units. You never need to specify what kind of kilometers you mean.

rat avatar
07-30-2017, 05:21 PM
Not at all: The recipe very clearly indicated teaspoons, tablespoons, pints, and so on. I just don't know which teaspoons, tablespoons, and pints. You need to specify when you're using those units. You never need to specify what kind of kilometers you mean.

Oh come on, unless your cook was Australian there are exactly two that you have to try.

US and UK.

By the way, the most likely reality is that it is in the UK customary units, as it is still in common use in baking in the UK.

Either way, in this case you are making bread, which primarily depends on the ratios of flour/water/yeast/sugar/fat/salt and not some arbitrary unit of measure.

Maybe you should try using a rational method?

Or maybe consider that most good bakers tend to make adjustments for the flower humidity etc...on the fly?

Also consider that they may be keeping a yeast culture, and just like SF sour bread it just will never be the same.

dtilque
07-30-2017, 05:27 PM
The third and most serious problem with the American system is that it isn't a standard. People use the same words to mean many different things. "Pound" usually means the weight of 454 grams, unless you're talking about precious metals, in which case it's less. Or unless you're using it to mean the mass of 454 grams, in which case you have a separate unit called the "poundal" for forces. Or maybe you use "pound" to mean both the weight and the force, and have to stick g in all over the place in formulas that have nothing to do with Earth's gravity. "Ounce" can be a weight or a volume, and even for water (supposedly the basis), the two don't quite agree. A "ton" can be long or short.

The most extreme case of this is the barrel. I once counted no fewer than 6 different barrel units, although to be fair, one was a metric barrel, which at 50 liters, was by far the smallest of the bunch. (Not sure why it wasn't 100 liters.) The others varied depending on what one was measuring (beer, wine, petroleum) and for one of them, which country (US vs UK).

A pint's a pound the world around, as long as by "the world" you mean "only the US, not anywhere in the British Commonwealth, where a pint of water is a pound and a quarter. This one is a problem for everyone, and if a unit doesn't mean the same thing for everyone, it's useless.

It's not even exact in the US. A US gallon of water is about 8.3 pounds, IIRC, so a pint is a little bit more than a pound.


Reminds me of the genius attempt to redefine a kilobyte as 1024 bytes (2.4% free!), and traces of that are unfortunately still with us.

A kilobyte has always been 1024 bytes. You may be thinking of PC marketing which called 1000 K (instead of 1024 K) a megabyte.

rat avatar
07-30-2017, 05:50 PM
A kilobyte has always been 1024 bytes. You may be thinking of PC marketing which called 1000 K (instead of 1024 K) a megabyte.

The 8 bit byte was not universal, and was only fully popularized eight-bit microprocessors of the 1970's and it actually changed the meaning of the word.

Originally it was a collection of bits smaller than machine's word size and the char encoding methods which started in 6 bits and expanded to 8 bits in EBCDIC/ASCII grew to the current size. But eight-bit processors used the term for their word size too due to those encodings.

But the important part for responding is the 1000K kilobit, as storage was related to characters stored it had been calculated in base 1000 from the mid 60's and beyond.

It is the PC world, which tossed away "words" for memory and used the non-sub-word-size byte as a measurement that started to use the 1024K model.

Consider the drum storage of the IBM 305 RAMDAC which could hold 32 tracks of 100 characters on each platter.

Cite but warning, it is a huge PDF

http://www.ed-thelen.org/comp-hist/22-6264-1-IBM-305-RAMAC-ManualOfOperation.pdf

But in this case, the PC industry is to blame and the storage companies were consistent.

wolfpup
07-30-2017, 05:58 PM
First "The Metric System" outside of SI is not cohesive nor universal and in fact there were three major completely different versions. The SI is what countries adopted, and not one of the random other versions.
No. What countries adopted as a practical standard were the SI base units, plus the directly derived units, plus units that could be used alongside the SI units. This was in response to your comment (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=20379069&postcount=102) that "Celsius is not the SI unit of temperature, that is Kelvin". Celsius is a derived unit with at least the same standing in SI as the litre and the tonne (metric ton). It maps to Kelvin perfectly as it has exactly the same units and merely a different definition of its zero point, which is why it's used throughout the world as the metric unit of temperature, and used concurrently with Kelvin in scientific publications where one or the other is preferred depending on what is being described.
As for wine, the sub-bottle serving size is simply the glass:
But would that be a normal size glass or a Keg size (https://www.kegsteakhouse.com/menu-detail/?id=6451&parent=755/) glass? ;) (I happen to know this because I was just there, where they will happily relieve you of $36 just for two glasses of a decent California Cab to go with your meal!)

Anyway, you seem to be trying very hard to make the point that the US uses metric units in some circumstances, and other countries continue to use non-metric units in certain cases, and so it's all more or less the same. It certainly is not. The US in fact has long harbored a unique and disparaging hostility to the metric system, and we see some of that right here in this thread (I don't mean from you, but for example in the quote I was ridiculing, and some of the comments that came after).

Weisshund
07-30-2017, 05:59 PM
212 for boiling and -32 for freezing? Doesn't make all that much sense to me.

Well, at -32 not much would make sense to you, you'd probably be dying.

That is 64 degrees below the temp that water freezes at, which is +32deg F

The scale actually does make logical sense, even though based on limited technology
0F is kind of like an absolute 0, at least it was for mr fahrenheit.

yes flawed, be centigrade could be considered just as flawed in that aspect.
0 is water freezing temp, but only fresh water.
Yet most of the water in the world is saline.
And if you live in the arctic or antarctic circles, 0 degrees anything is totally meaningless because you are magnitudes colder. :D



Daniel Fahrenheit did not use the freezing point of water as a basis for developing his scale. He called the temperature of an ice/salt/water mixture 'zero degrees', as this was the lowest temperature he could conveniently attain in his lab.

Balthisar
07-30-2017, 06:06 PM
You know, I've asked this before, but no one ever gives a satisfactory answer. In the USA specifically, what does "going metric" actually mean? Highways signs are stupid and minimal and have no impact, but if you really want people to adopt the system, the only way is abridge their freedom of speech. Ban American units recipe books. Prohibit packaging from mentioning ounces. Regulate the quantities bars can serve, and prohibit their speech.

Anyone (like me) can freely choose to use the metric system without serious Constitutional challenges. Anything else borders on tyranny (and I'm not being sarcastic).

wolfpup
07-30-2017, 06:09 PM
The 8 bit byte was not universal, and was only fully popularized eight-bit microprocessors of the 1970's and it actually changed the meaning of the word.

Originally it was a collection of bits smaller than machine's word size and the char encoding methods which started in 6 bits and expanded to 8 bits in EBCDIC/ASCII grew to the current size. But eight-bit processors used the term for their word size too due to those encodings.

I've never heard the term "byte" used to describe anything other than an 8-bit quantity, and if it was it certainly wasn't widespread usage. The concept of the "byte" first came into prominence well before the 70s, with the introduction of the IBM System/360 series which was byte-addressable and whose word size was four bytes in contrast to other mainframes (36 bits was a popular word and datapath size), and then DEC's PDP-11 minicomputer followed by its successor the VAX, both architectures being byte addressable. I'm pretty sure these milestone systems had far more influence on the industry and its standards and nomenclature than the microprocessors of the time.

DPRK
07-30-2017, 06:18 PM
Again, in 2009 a random survey of retail products in the US showed that 17% were labeled only in metric units, no dual labeling. elmwood's prediction of 2010 was off, but I would not be surprised if the trend quietly continues.

As for this binary kilobytes business, it is not so much a matter of changing the meaning as a (deliberate?) misunderstanding of metric prefixes. Remember these are standard, and the people misusing them are likely not computer scientists, maybe certain engineers or marketing folk in the PC industry who have not quite grasped the metric system. I do not know offhand of any catastrophic disaster caused by this confusion, but that does not mean it cannot or has not happened (some critical system running out of memory, perhaps?) If one really wants to count in powers of two, which I cannot imagine why you'd want to, the IEC has sanctioned special prefixes like Ki, Mi (I have also rarely seen KK, MM) for this purpose.

ETA 4-bit and 6-bit bytes, and all sorts of weird word sizes, are considered old-school, but they have been used.

rat avatar
07-30-2017, 06:18 PM
No. What countries adopted as a practical standard were the SI base units, plus the directly derived units, plus units that could be used alongside the SI units. This was in response to your comment (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=20379069&postcount=102) that "Celsius is not the SI unit of temperature, that is Kelvin". Celsius is a derived unit with at least the same standing in SI as the litre and the tonne (metric ton). It maps to Kelvin perfectly as it has exactly the same units and merely a different definition of its zero point, which is why it's used throughout the world as the metric unit of temperature, and used concurrently with Kelvin in scientific publications where one or the other is preferred depending on what is being described.

But would that be a normal size glass or a Keg size (https://www.kegsteakhouse.com/menu-detail/?id=6451&parent=755/) glass? ;) (I happen to know this because I was just there, where they will happily relieve you of $36 just for two glasses of a decent California Cab to go with your meal!)

Anyway, you seem to be trying very hard to make the point that the US uses metric units in some circumstances, and other countries continue to use non-metric units in certain cases, and so it's all more or less the same. It certainly is not. The US in fact has long harbored a unique and disparaging hostility to the metric system, and we see some of that right here in this thread (I don't mean from you, but for example in the quote I was ridiculing, and some of the comments that came after).

I am saying that the "only three country's" claim is baseless without stating what that standard is.

But thanks pointing out that the Keg is a canadian chain, not exactly my cup of tea but they have a ton of them around here.

But the point is that all federal government agencies are required to use the metric system as their primary unit of measure.

I actually cited the exact document in the federal register stating that point.

I want to be exactly clear, that I am not accusing you of this but the "Only three countries in the world don't officially use the metric system" claim seems false, there is no bar that anyone seems to be able to define based on it and as your link shows not all other countries have fully converted.

So to me this seems to be a bigoted, or hateful claim, and because there is apparently zero ability to actually define what "officially accepting" the SI units is it leads to exchanges like this.

So once again, in an effort to "fight ignorance" what would the US have to do to not be subjected to this disparaging claim?

I feel like we have enough valid problems to not resort to folklore.

DPRK
07-30-2017, 06:26 PM
Anyone (like me) can freely choose to use the metric system without serious Constitutional challenges. Anything else borders on tyranny (and I'm not being sarcastic).

People have been nailed for this in Britain, but I am not so sure it was meant as tyranny: even in the US you cannot make up your own scales and weights and units and label products however you see fit. The consistent standards are supposed to ensure fairness on behalf of the consumer.

wolfpup
07-30-2017, 06:28 PM
You know, I've asked this before, but no one ever gives a satisfactory answer. In the USA specifically, what does "going metric" actually mean? Highways signs are stupid and minimal and have no impact, but if you really want people to adopt the system, the only way is abridge their freedom of speech. Ban American units recipe books. Prohibit packaging from mentioning ounces. Regulate the quantities bars can serve, and prohibit their speech.

Anyone (like me) can freely choose to use the metric system without serious Constitutional challenges. Anything else borders on tyranny (and I'm not being sarcastic).

I'm surprised you never got an answer because I would think the answer is fairly obvious. The government already regulates weights and measures in the interest of facilitating commerce, standardization, and the general public good. And there are very good reasons for that. You can't go around selling an alleged five-pound roast or a ten-pound sack of potatoes with your own unique definition of what a "pound" is (six ounces!) and use "free speech" as a defense.

The metric system is a science-based, rational and coherent system of measures with long-term benefits for everyone and it's government's job to regulate and encourage things that are in the public interest. Going metric doesn't involve "banning cookbooks" or any other libertarian horror-fantasies. You can't "freely choose" to use metric on your own -- that doesn't even mean anything, since the underlying concept of a "standard" is that it is, well, standard -- everybody uses it.

rat avatar
07-30-2017, 06:49 PM
People have been nailed for this in Britain, but I am not so sure it was meant as tyranny: even in the US you cannot make up your own scales and weights and units and label products however you see fit. The consistent standards are supposed to ensure fairness on behalf of the consumer.

You can make up your own units, but you have to label them with standard units, and metric has been required in the US For that label for ever.

Example in point,

Starbux sizes: Short [8 fl. oz.], Tall [12 fl. oz.], Grande [16 fl. oz.], Venti® Hot [20 fl. oz.], Venti® Cold [24 fl. oz.] and Trenta®* Cold [31 fl. oz.].

I don't go there often but they give you flack if you ask for it in fl.oz.

Chronos
07-30-2017, 06:56 PM
Quoth rat avatar:

Oh come on, unless your cook was Australian there are exactly two that you have to try.

US and UK.

By the way, the most likely reality is that it is in the UK customary units, as it is still in common use in baking in the UK.
I did try both, and neither worked. But it's not a binary choice, because there were multiple different units, each of which could be in different systems. It's at least eight possibilities, more if there's some other unit that differs between the systems that I don't know of.

Either way, in this case you are making bread, which primarily depends on the ratios of flour/water/yeast/sugar/fat/salt and not some arbitrary unit of measure.
Which would be fine if the recipe were written in a system where everything was measured in the same, or easily-converted, units. But what's the ratio of a tablespoon to a pint? I don't know.

Maybe you should try using a rational method?
My point exactly, but unfortunately I'm not the one who wrote the recipe.

Or maybe consider that most good bakers tend to make adjustments for the flower humidity etc...on the fly?
If I already knew how to make Irish brown bread, I could do that. But if I already knew how to make Irish brown bread, I wouldn't have needed the recipe from the B&B.

Also consider that they may be keeping a yeast culture, and just like SF sour bread it just will never be the same.
It's not a yeast bread.

People keep saying that the American system is just as good or better than the metric system. When proponents of metric point out advantages of metric, the American proponents just say "yeah, but how often is that relevant?". When the proponents of metric point out examples where it really is relevant, they say "You should have tried harder". When the proponents of American try to construct examples where the American system is easier, the metric proponents show that even those examples are easier in the metric system, too. There is literally no good argument here in favor of the American system.

markn+
07-30-2017, 07:27 PM
So what's stopping you? Last time I checked you could get measuring devices in either system. So use metric tapes and measures.

I've considered it. But the plans that I find in (US) magazines and such, are all in English units. And it would be a nontrivial outlay of money to replace all my measuring tools, drill bits, router bits, etc. with metric ones. Come to think of it, I'm not sure that metric router bits would fit my router, so I might have to replace that too.

In miniature, this is the real reason people in the US don't want to switch to metric -- it's a painful and expensive transition. I get that. Making up ridiculous justifications for why the US system is "better" than metric doesn't help; it just makes Americans look silly and provincial.

Civil Guy
07-30-2017, 07:53 PM
Anyone (like me) can freely choose to use the metric system without serious Constitutional challenges. Anything else borders on tyranny (and I'm not being sarcastic).

No, it's not like there would be any plans to round up all the yard sticks or anything. The tying run will eternally be 90 feet from home plate, so there's no worries there.

If highway signs are changed to metric, then speed limit signs probably would be, as well. Currently, you could conceivably fight a speeding ticket by saying you were only going 95 kph in that 60 mph zone, and it's your free speech right to use metric units -- but that's probably not the best strategy.

pulykamell
07-30-2017, 08:59 PM
Not at all: The recipe very clearly indicated teaspoons, tablespoons, pints, and so on. I just don't know which teaspoons, tablespoons, and pints. You need to specify when you're using those units. You never need to specify what kind of kilometers you mean.

It actually really shouldn't make a difference if you're dealing with US or UK measures there. The ratio of US teaspoons to US pints and UK teaspoons to UK pints is the same. And if you're getting a recipe with "pints" indicated, it's almost certainly a UK recipe, in my experience, as American recipes will pretty much always (in modern times) write 2 cups. Also, while baking is more a science than cooking, there still is plenty of fudge factor that will yield a perfectly good end product. If the recipe didn't work, it's either your technique, or the innkeeper just completely screwed up the recipe.

wolfpup
07-30-2017, 09:05 PM
... "Only three countries in the world don't officially use the metric system" claim seems false, there is no bar that anyone seems to be able to define based on it and as your link shows not all other countries have fully converted.

So to me this seems to be a bigoted, or hateful claim, and because there is apparently zero ability to actually define what "officially accepting" the SI units is it leads to exchanges like this.

So once again, in an effort to "fight ignorance" what would the US have to do to not be subjected to this disparaging claim?

You already asked me for a cite and I provided you with the CIA World Factbook. If you had followed the footnoted citation at the link you would have found the fuller explanation that you were looking for:
At this time, only three countries - Burma, Liberia, and the US - have not adopted the International System of Units (SI, or metric system) as their official system of weights and measures. Although use of the metric system has been sanctioned by law in the US since 1866, it has been slow in displacing the American adaptation of the British Imperial System known as the US Customary System. The US is the only industrialized nation that does not mainly use the metric system in its commercial and standards activities, but there is increasing acceptance in science, medicine, government, and many sectors of industry.
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/appendix/appendix-g.html
If you believe that this is "bigoted" and "hateful" against the US, take it up with the CIA.

Whether the claim is "disparaging" obviously depends on one's position on metrification.

The obvious answer to your question as to what circumstances would curtail the criticisms that the US is not actually metric in any meaningful way is: maybe if metric became commonplace in everyday life, as it is everywhere else. For example:

weather records and forecast temperatures in Celsius degrees
foods and food ingredients primarily packaged in metric sizes and labeled accordingly
foods and any other commodities sold by measured weight priced in grams or kilograms
highway signage in kilometers or meters, speed limits in km/h
car instrumentation in km/h and kilometers driven
gasoline metered and priced in litres
car mileage stated in litres/100 km

I'm not saying all of these are immediately essential, what I'm saying is that practically none of them are currently true here, whereas most of them if not all of them are true in most other countries that have a legitimate claim to being metric.

Incidentally, we had a discussion in a different thread about the L/100km number versus MPG. A big problem with MPG, aside from the archaic units, is that it isn't a linear scale. A given MPG difference when comparing low-mileage cars is far more significant than the same difference when comparing high-mileage cars. L/100km much more closely reflects real-life concerns and more accurately tracks differences between cars across a wide range of efficiencies.

AWB
07-30-2017, 09:07 PM
Coke has come back out with 16.9 oz plastic bottles in twelve packs just recently.

Which is the same as 1/2 litre.

Balthisar
07-31-2017, 07:57 AM
I'm surprised you never got an answer because I would think the answer is fairly obvious. The government already regulates weights and measures in the interest of facilitating commerce, standardization, and the general public good. And there are very good reasons for that. You can't go around selling an alleged five-pound roast or a ten-pound sack of potatoes with your own unique definition of what a "pound" is (six ounces!) and use "free speech" as a defense.

I’ve never suggested that weights and measures would be used fraudulently; I’m addressing which weights and measures can be printed or spoken about. And besides, your answer is not an answer, though, and if it were an answer, you’d only be addressing a very, very small part of a transition. Product packaging is already largely metric, and likely the government could compel speech requiring metric units on packages that don’t already include it. My assertion is that the government cannot compel companies to omit customary units, meaning that people are still going to buy eight ounces of yellow cheese-like product.

You can't "freely choose" to use metric on your own -- that doesn't even mean anything, since the underlying concept of a "standard" is that it is, well, standard -- everybody uses it.

Sure I can, because enough other people use it that it makes sense in my life. If someone doesn’t understand what I’m talking about, then I can switch to customary units easily, because you know what? It’s not that damned hard. Generations of Canadians already do it when they talk to their grandparents.

I’m not anti-metric; it’s a better system, after all, and I use it myself primarily. But you weirdos who think the country suffers because we’re not metric don’t realize we’re already metric where it matters, and what you really want to do is convince everyday people to abandon their customary units and adopt metric ones. The only way you can do that is through despotism.

Jackmannii
07-31-2017, 08:23 AM
Medical stuff is the US is usually metric, except when it is not...
meds are mostly in mg, liquids in ml (not cc!) height in cm, weight in kg.I and other pathologists routinely measure in grams, ml and cm.

Then I go home and it's pounds, ounces and feet.

It's only natural. :)

Chronos
07-31-2017, 08:50 AM
Quoth pulykamell:

It actually really shouldn't make a difference if you're dealing with US or UK measures there. The ratio of US teaspoons to US pints and UK teaspoons to UK pints is the same.
But those aren't the only units used, either. An imperial egg is the same as an American egg, and the two ounces are close enough to not worry about the difference in a recipe. So there will still be some ratios which are off.

Mangetout
07-31-2017, 09:00 AM
Well that's the rub, the imperial system is based on human life experiences. Metric is not. Imperial will always be a more natural unit of measurement than metric, though if born under metric rule one can adapt and live a perfectly normal life.

What a load of nonsense. There's nothing natural about either system - they're both made up systems, invented by people. One of them was made up so as to be straightforward to use.

pulykamell
07-31-2017, 11:02 AM
But those aren't the only units used, either. An imperial egg is the same as an American egg, and the two ounces are close enough to not worry about the difference in a recipe. So there will still be some ratios which are off.

Well, eggs actually do vary quite a bit in size, imperial or not, which is why, as I believe you agreed before, recipes by weight for baking are easier to deal with for consistent results. That said, I don't think the difference in the US vs UK ratios should be big enough to make a difference, and I would assume UK units anyhow. I suspect something else is off with the recipe. But this is really drifting from the thread topic. If there's another thread I'd be happy to diagnose the recipe. There's not a whole lot of variables in soda bread. The leavening could be off, or the flour amount could be off. You have to use a little judgement with these things if the final dough looks too heavy or too thin.

pulykamell
07-31-2017, 11:14 AM
Actually, Chronos, I thought the soda bread sounded familiar, and I found the other thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=20381654#post20381654) it was in, if you want to continue the side discussion.

Mangetout
07-31-2017, 11:21 AM
Weighing eggs is the way to go and proportion the recipe accordingly - it's what large scale commercial bakery does, and it works at the smaller scale just fine.

Chronos
07-31-2017, 02:15 PM
Eh, I lost the original recipe long ago, so if I were ever to try it again, it'd be from a recipe I looked up online and whose units I could be sure of.