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06-01-1999, 04:33 PM
For some reason, it just struck me that not only is the U.S. not using the metric system now, we've not even talking about converting any more. Well, I'm sick of waiting. Is there anything I can do to get the ball rolling again? If we could identify some milestones that would represent progress before the full scale conversion, maybe it would be easier to make the transition.

06-01-1999, 04:42 PM
Start using the metric system in your work. Ask all your friends to start using it, tell them to tell their friends and so on...and eventually they'll have to convert it.

But here is another one. Why do the Brittish still drive on left side of the road? I know there's a left wing government, but comon.

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06-01-1999, 04:48 PM
Greg:

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/950602.html

Hoe:

http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_021b.html

06-01-1999, 05:00 PM
Living in Europe, I can only say that I prefer metric, but then again, I was born into it.

I'm reading rainbow Six by Clancy right now, and notice that he uses metric. Maybe his own contribution in tune with the above post.

I think you just gotta get down and do it and don't listen to people bitching.

And about driving on the left. A large part of the world does it, not only UK. Japan, most of Asia, Australia....

CT

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06-01-1999, 07:31 PM
I grew up with the English system, but I still love the metric system. I wish we'd go the whole way and convert. It seems that we already use both in a mixture, with the blaring exceptions of marking all distances in miles, and speaking of temperatures in Fahrenheit.

06-01-1999, 09:40 PM
As if the english system isn't bad enough, we have to mix it up with the decimal system.
Sometimes at work I need to cut a hole ia a panel to mount an instrument. The specs. will call for a dimension of 8.1342 x 4.3456, or some crap like that.
Pisses me off! :)
Peace,
mangeorge

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"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything" Mark Twain 1894

06-02-1999, 05:10 AM
Change sports to metric, and I'll convert. I'm sure many will too.

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06-02-1999, 07:04 AM
I'm reading rainbow Six by Clancy right now, and notice that he uses metric. Maybe his own contribution in tune with the above post.Not sure about this, but could it be that the U.S. military uses metric?

Holger

06-02-1999, 07:04 AM
Actually, all maufacturers in the US are metric by now, such as cars etc. It must be the ISO certification. It's the consumer end that hasn't changed.

06-02-1999, 09:45 AM
If we could identify some milestones that would represent progress before the full scale conversion,...Here are two such milestones. Good luck figuring out their significance. ---

2 liter soda bottles
3 1/2 inch diskettes

Ummm... which industry was the high-tech one?

06-02-1999, 02:13 PM
Hey, that's a good point. What do they call 3 1/2 inch disks in other countries? I have it on some authority that in England they're called "stiffies". Obviously that's not going to catch on here.

06-02-1999, 03:06 PM
sunbear said:

Actually, all maufacturers in the US are metric by now, such as cars etc. It must be the ISO certification. It's the consumer end that hasn't changed.

I'm not sure about other industries, but the U.S. aerospace industry, where I worked until 2 months ago, still uses the English (IPS) system of units. Mil-Handbook-5 (Metallic Materials and Elements for Aerospace Vehicle Structures) lists material properties in English units. The only time I had to deal with the metric system was when we had a foreign customer, e.g. Rolls-Royce.

I'm in the semiconductor industry now as a mechanical engineer and our units are all over the place, so to speak. Part of it is due to the fact that we're working with a European company to learn their technology. Regardless, a common, albeit mutated, way to express force/deflection here is in grams-force/mil, where 1 mil = 0.001". The design/analysis software that I currently use allows you to express units any way you want, which is very convenient given the circumstances. You just gotta be careful.

One strange thing - most of the material properties tables that I come across, with the exception of Mil-Handbook-5, express thermal conductivity in SI units (W/m-K), even when the other properties in the table are given in English units!

Let's see, if we start to refer to 3 1/2 disks as "stiffies," then the computer industry will be the only place where a "floppy" is larger than a "stiffy!"

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"I wept because I had no shoes, then I met a man with no feet. So I took his shoes" - Dave Barry

06-02-1999, 03:08 PM
Forgot to add, ISO 9000 or 9001 certification has nothing to do with using the metric systems. The company I worked for was both ISO 9000 and ISO 9001 certified.

06-02-1999, 03:16 PM
I'm glad to see that the general concensus here is that the metric system is easier to use - I grew up listening to my mother whine about it, waxing nostalgic for measurements like "stones" etc.

In Canada, we call 3.5 inch disks...3.5 inch disks. I kinda like "stiffies" though.

As far as driving on the wrong side of the road goes, I've always thought that the British got it right. Back in the good old days of horses & carriages, one drove on the left so one could shoot at/wave sword at oncoming enemies/traffic with the right arm. I really don't know why it's different elsewhere. It makes more sense for the driver to be able to do stuff outside of the car with his or her right hand (modern day equivalent to hand-to-hand combat might be a drive-through bank machine).

06-02-1999, 05:21 PM
What do they call 3 1/2 inch disks in other countries?

Why, 3.5 inch diskettes of course. Because they meassure 3.5". That's 8.89 cms. And they meassure that, cause they're American and the comp.industry is just about the only where we have the same standards across the Atlantic.
Now had the diskette been an invention from Europe, it would've been 9 cms or mebbe 10.

Many Americans think that we're totally stupid here: "Oh I could never get used to metric, why would you make a diskette 8.89 cms?" Duh! It's the conversion that comes out to 8.89. We make and meassure things in even numbers.

CT

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06-03-1999, 12:40 AM
Is there anything I can do to get the ball rolling again?

Write your congressmen, governor, favorite presidential candidate, whatever. At the very least, suggest a dual mile/kilometer system on public highways. The metric system will only get going in this country when the powers that be feel there is a public desire for it.

06-06-1999, 06:27 PM
If you drive around Louisville, KY, they have the duel mile/km road signs.

Just me however, I've grown to using the mixed system. Centemeters and meters for measuring length, Feet and inches for height, liters and pints (versus gallons and milliliters). And driving in miles.

But I absolutely hate the Celsius temperature scale!

But that's my idiosyncracy!

06-06-1999, 07:43 PM
I have no feel for Fahrenheit degrees below freezing even though I've heard weather repots for decades. The Zero=freezing just makes more sense. The 30-90 degrees F part I do have a feel for. Outside the window I have a dual thermometer.

06-06-1999, 08:30 PM
I live in Canada and we went metric several years ago but they still give the temperatures in both C and F ?
But one thing I always wondered when I visit the USA, if you guys are not metric why do they sell the 1 litre bottle of soft drinks ?

When you cross the border into Canada if your driving don't think that our gasoline is so much cheaper at .56 cents.

Thats in litres which makes it almost 2 times as much a gallon.

06-06-1999, 10:18 PM
I don't off hand know how Farenheit got zero degrees (it's a Straight Dope topic somewhere), but I don't feel that 30 degrees is enough difference between cold and hot.
The liter bottle just became succssful. AS did the 20 oz. But getting the metric system back up in this country will be a uphill battle. Apathy to change and the fact we are a powerful country.

06-06-1999, 10:31 PM
Apathy what a great word.

I saw it once spray painted on a wall in Toronto.

It said "Toronto has too much apathy but who gives a damn anyway"

I think there is too much going around.

06-07-1999, 01:33 AM
IIRC, SterlingNorth, 0 degrees Fahrenheit was determined by mixing equal amounts of ice and...something else...salt?

Checking Cecil, I find http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a891215.html which says:
It dawned on him that it was going to look a little strange having the zero on his scale just sort of hanging off the end, so to speak. So he cooked up the explanation that zero was the temperature of a mix of ice, water, and ammonium chloride.

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"We're gonna have lawyers here. It'll be a fun time."
--R.R.S.

06-07-1999, 01:50 AM
but I don't feel that 30 degrees is enough difference between cold and hot. -- SterlingNorth

Actually, I have the opposite feeling about this. It is very hard to feel the difference of a 1 degree change in Fahrenheit, but you can just barely tell a 1 degree change in Celcius. To me, that makes it more meaningful.

There is also the goofy and misleading use of 98.6 as normal body temperature in Fahrenheit. That decimal place makes normal boby temperature seem a lot more precise than it really is. We only chose that number, because it is a translation from 37 degrees Celcius

06-10-1999, 10:37 PM
The worst offender remains uncorrected even in presumably metric societies: the HMS (hours:minutes:seconds) time system.

I'm still waiting for my first digital days. millidays chronometer.

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06-10-1999, 11:24 PM
I think the reason that time has not been revised by the metric system is because it can never be fully integrated into a single decimal numbering scheme in a way that is still reasonable for everyday use.

Why? Because our measurement of time is based on two completely independent cycles-- the Earth's revolution around the Sun, and the rotation of the Earth.

We can't have one nice decimal measurement that encompasses both cycles, so why bother? It is imaginable that such a metric measurement would be done in a society that spends most of its time in deep space. If we started living in deep space, I could imagine us creating a time system based on seconds (with kiloseconds, megaseconds, etc).

06-11-1999, 03:32 PM
AHunter, if you ever get a chance to go the Smithsonian, check out their collection of time pieces. You will discover that when the metric system was invented and then imposed on the French people during the revolution, a decimal time system was also imposed. The people loathed it, and it was disposed of as soon as it could be.

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&gt;&gt;while contemplating the navel of the universe, I wondered, is it an innie or outie?&lt;&lt;

---The dragon observes

06-11-1999, 07:08 PM
http://www.swatch.com

I'm sure you guys read about the new Internet time devised by Swatch. It's sort of decimal.

Here is there explanation:
What is this new Universal Time?

Timed by Swatch

Internet Time represents a completely new global concept of time. So what is the deal? Basically, the Swatch Beat, the revolutionary new unit of time means the following:

No Time Zones
No Geographical Borders

How long is a Swatch beat? In short we have divided up the virtual and real day into 1000 "beats". One Swatch beat is the equivalent of 1 minute 26.4 seconds. That means that 12 noon in the old time system is the equivalent of @500 Swatch beats

I think that 86.4 seconds is to long an interval to ever become pratical. Therefore, it's just a gimmick and will never catch on. Anyone thinking something else?

ct

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When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout

06-12-1999, 11:47 AM
AHunter, if you ever get a chance to go the Smithsonian, check out their collection of time pieces. -- Narile
Do you know which museum this is in?

06-14-1999, 06:59 PM
Undead, Sorry but I couldn't say off the top of my head. I remember seeing the timepiece collection some time ago though it might have been part of a limited exhibition.

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&gt;&gt;while contemplating the navel of the universe, I wondered, is it an innie or outie?&lt;&lt;

---The dragon observes

06-14-1999, 07:55 PM
I think that 86.4 seconds is to long an interval to ever become pratical. Therefore, it's just a gimmick and will never catch on. Anyone thinking something else?

Not at all. Briefer periods would be measured in centibeats, not quite a second.

I must say, I think the English system has a certain panache that the metric doesn't, but I have to weigh in with the Metrists on the practicality of conversion. It may be best to work on one subset of industries at a time. It must be possible to divide industries into largely disjoint sets (like food service and the auto industry). Change them one at a time, rather than abandon the English system altogether at once.