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Old 08-01-2019, 01:14 PM
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I'm American. When I Use The Metric System or Celsius Do I Sound Like A Pretentious Twit?


As an American, I believe the time has come -- indeed, it's been here for two centuries -- for the U.S. to convert to the Metric System and Celsius. I've been trying to force myself to use those systems in my daily life, because The Buddha said to be the change you want to see.

But I'm concerned? Do I sound like a pretentious twit when I say that St. Louis is a 175-kilometer drive? Or when I say it's about 27 degrees outside when it's the 1st of August? Or when I say, "the 1st of August" rather than "August 1st"?
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:16 PM
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Yes
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:20 PM
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To quote puddleglum. "Yes."

I'm not a "You're in America, speak American!". But if you gave me the answers in OP, I'd say, "Tell me that in American terms please."
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:24 PM
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I'm American. When I Use The Metric System or Celsius Do I Sound Like A Pretentious Twit?


Hey Homie, don't blame the metric system.
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:29 PM
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It's very enlightened of the OP to try to get fluent in other systems. Just use your" inside your own head" voice
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:38 PM
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Hey Homie, don't blame the metric system.
I LOL'd
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:24 PM
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Yes
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:32 PM
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Depends on the context. Most scientific contexts it's fine. I make coffee and bread at home and in those contexts, grams are commonly used. "Two liter" is a standard volume for soda pop across the country. In the Army, "clicks", aka kilometers, was a standard unit of marching distance as well as navigation. At work we cast metal and use Celsius to measure the temperature of the molten metal.

But casually mentioning kilometer distances and Celsius temperatures outside of those contexts by an American, to other Americans who you know don't use those units regularly, would sound like an odd affectation to my ears. Pretentious? Maybe. It's a minor sin. I wouldn't think less of you or anything but I'd think it was odd.
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:11 PM
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Depends on the context. Most scientific contexts it's fine. I make coffee and bread at home and in those contexts, grams are commonly used. "Two liter" is a standard volume for soda pop across the country. In the Army, "clicks", aka kilometers, was a standard unit of marching distance as well as navigation. At work we cast metal and use Celsius to measure the temperature of the molten metal.

But casually mentioning kilometer distances and Celsius temperatures outside of those contexts by an American, to other Americans who you know don't use those units regularly, would sound like an odd affectation to my ears. Pretentious? Maybe. It's a minor sin. I wouldn't think less of you or anything but I'd think it was odd.
Bah! I go with "yes." We don't want no stinkin' metric here. The commies have been trying to get us to switch for 40 years. Sure, they snuck up on us with the two liter bottle thing, but no more!
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:41 PM
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DrCube put it excellently. Context matters.

Not-unrelatedly, I have a co-worker who insists on pronouncing schedule as "shedule." I'd be happy to arrange a meeting.
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:54 PM
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DrCube put it excellently. Context matters.

Not-unrelatedly, I have a co-worker who insists on pronouncing schedule as "shedule." I'd be happy to arrange a meeting.
Don't you mean a 'rendez-vous'?
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:58 PM
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Don't you mean a 'rendez-vous'?
Sorry, I don't habla espanol.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:05 PM
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Sorry, I don't habla espanol.
Plebeian.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:16 PM
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Plebeian.
Gesundheit.
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:57 PM
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You sound bad when you say St. Louis is 110 miles, too. The standard driving distance measure is hours.

And certain metric measurements are fine in casual context, like centimeter. But going out of your way to do it is weird. And you'll take Fahrenheit from my cold, dead hands.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:22 PM
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You sound bad when you say St. Louis is 110 miles, too. The standard driving distance measure is hours.
Both are normal and accurate, depending on context. I wouldn't bat an eye at either when giving driving instructions.
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:58 PM
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You sound bad when you say St. Louis is 110 miles, too. The standard driving distance measure is hours.
Or, in metric, centiminutes.
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:33 PM
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Both are normal and accurate, depending on context. I wouldn't bat an eye at either when giving driving instructions.
Depends on the distance, in my experience.
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9mm rounds
Europeans sometimes try to do the opposite. .380 ACP is sometimes 9x17mm or 9mm Kurz (short).
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Or, in metric, centiminutes.
The French considered that, and actually implemented a decimalized calendar, but chopping heads and/or dictatoring got in the way.
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:36 PM
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Or, in metric, centiminutes.
Decaminutes or hectominutes, maybe? A centiminute would be 1/100 of a minute.
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Old 08-01-2019, 05:40 PM
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Decaminutes or hectominutes, maybe? A centiminute would be 1/100 of a minute.
Yes, you're right.
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Old 08-01-2019, 06:09 PM
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As a scientist, I use metric all the time at work. Occasionally I'll convert report a distance in miles if the general public is the target audience for the sake of comprehension.

So if you used metric around me, I probably wouldn't notice. But I think it just makes good sense to speak in the way that will help you be understood.
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:56 PM
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Decaminutes or hectominutes, maybe? A centiminute would be 1/100 of a minute.
Depends how fast you're driving.
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Old 08-02-2019, 03:18 PM
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And certain metric measurements are fine in casual context, like centimeter.
And the one-kilometer bottle.

What?

I'd sound weird to my colleagues on the job if I referred to a one-pound tumor or a kidney measuring 6 inches long. But when I'm out at a restaurant I don't ask for that half-kilogram steak special.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:02 PM
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St. Louis is a 175-kilometer drive.

*Squints eyes*

Are yew a commie? We don't take to kindly to commies 'round c'here!
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:05 PM
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Assuming a non-scientific context, yes. Kind of like dropping a French phrase into your conversation every other sentence.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:08 PM
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People won't automatically think you're a pretentious twit if you use the metric system. They might just assume you're a drug dealer.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:42 PM
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I don't have a horse in this race but......

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People won't automatically think you're a pretentious twit if you use the metric system. They might just assume you're a drug dealer.
......Surely this is just a sad reflection on Americans who are not drug dealers?

j
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:09 PM
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Assuming a non-scientific context, yes. Kind of like dropping a French phrase into your conversation every other sentence.
Pretentious? Moi?
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:08 PM
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Assuming a non-scientific context, yes. Kind of like dropping a French phrase into your conversation every other sentence.
...Avec fromage!
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:27 PM
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Yes. Though allowances can be made if someone thinks you are Canadian.

Don't say 27 degrees though - make sure you note it's Celsius or people are going to be really confused.
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:08 PM
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Yes. Though allowances can be made if someone thinks you are Canadian.

Don't say 27 degrees though - make sure you note it's Celsius or people are going to be really confused.
No one's going to believe you're Canadian if you just say it's 27C to an American audience. To be authentically Canadian you'd have to say something like, "It's 27 degrees - I'm sorry, 27 Celcius that is. I'm not sure what that converts to in Fahrenheit." Without the "sorry" part he'll just sound like a pretentious twit.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:30 PM
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Start slow, and use metric where some Americans already use metric. For example, people know what a 2-liter bottle looks like, and I think a lot of people already know a standard wine bottle is 750 ml, so I think referring to beverage bottle sizes in ml or liters is more acceptable & understandable than using kilometers.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:08 AM
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people know what a 2-liter bottle looks like, anda standard wine bottle is 750 ml, so I think referring to beverage bottle sizes in ml or liters is more acceptable & understandable than using kilometers.
ummm........it's gonna get really confusing if yourefer to beverage sizes in kilometers.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:32 PM
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Oh, cool, I'm glad to see others use time to communicate driving distance. I'd been told that was a DFW thang. But giving miles/km doesn't really communicate what I *actually* want to know: how long is it gonna take & what time do I gotta leave?

Concur that for most of the U.S. it's mostly drug dealers that know metric (and can convert easily between systems in their heads) or uh, so I heard.
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:12 PM
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Oh, cool, I'm glad to see others use time to communicate driving distance. I'd been told that was a DFW thang. But giving miles/km doesn't really communicate what I *actually* want to know: how long is it gonna take & what time do I gotta leave?

Concur that for most of the U.S. it's mostly drug dealers that know metric (and can convert easily between systems in their heads) or uh, so I heard.
I used to work with a guy who was an alcoholic who would actually estimate driving time in beers.
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:06 PM
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Oh, cool, I'm glad to see others use time to communicate driving distance. I'd been told that was a DFW thang. But giving miles/km doesn't really communicate what I *actually* want to know: how long is it gonna take & what time do I gotta leave?
Definitely not a DFW regionalism. I grew up in Central Illinois, now live in Southeastern Missouri, everyone I've known has always given driving "distance" in time.

In fact, to hear foreign YouTubers tell it, all of us Americans do it.
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:28 PM
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Definitely not a DFW regionalism. I grew up in Central Illinois, now live in Southeastern Missouri, everyone I've known has always given driving "distance" in time.

In fact, to hear foreign YouTubers tell it, all of us Americans do it.
If someone gives directions in miles in Hawaii, they're usually military. Makes sense since 30 minutes to get from A to B is meaningless if you're walking on foot versus driving there. However, mainland visitors tend to ask for distance in miles, to which we answer "Umm...don't know how may miles, but it's a 20 minute drive!". Works well when a "Around the Island trip" around Oahu takes less than 2 hours during non-traffic hours. During traffic hours or if there's an accident, you may as well sleep in your car!
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:29 PM
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I've been metric for most of my life, but still cannot get my head around cm to measure vertical heights.

When you hear police reports (for example) of a suspect being wanted for questioning over some crime, and they say, "...dark hair, Caucasian, 180cm tall..." I have NO CLUE what that is. I just cannot visualise it.

But tell me the person is 5' 8" or 6' 3" and I'm fine and dandy.
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:32 PM
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I've been metric for most of my life, but still cannot get my head around cm to measure vertical heights.

When you hear police reports (for example) of a suspect being wanted for questioning over some crime, and they say, "...dark hair, Caucasian, 180cm tall..." I have NO CLUE what that is. I just cannot visualise it.

But tell me the person is 5' 8" or 6' 3" and I'm fine and dandy.
Height was one of the last holdouts in Aus after forced conversion. That and bookshelves. Eventually everybody who knows their height in feed and inches dies out. And everybody who reads books.
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:49 PM
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Definitely not a DFW regionalism. I grew up in Central Illinois, now live in Southeastern Missouri, everyone I've known has always given driving "distance" in time.

In fact, to hear foreign YouTubers tell it, all of us Americans do it.
Pretty much everywhere I've been in the US, transit distances are given in units of time. It doesn't matter what the mode of transit is, either. Driving, walking, taking the train, canoeing, whatever--how long it takes to get from Point A to Point B is what counts.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:39 PM
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Side question.

I appreciate metric. Especially in cooking grams and liters are so much easier.

I don't get celcius. Other than being less precise and having 0 and 100 corrospond to freezing and boiling... What's the value?
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:11 PM
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Side question.

I appreciate metric. Especially in cooking grams and liters are so much easier.

I don't get celcius. Other than being less precise and having 0 and 100 corrospond to freezing and boiling... What's the value?
The value in a scientific context is that Celcius maps onto Kelvin very easily. The value in day to day life is less significant. However, the "less precise" thing is silly since decimal points exist (Celcius thermostats almost always operate in .5 degree steps, for example), and in a climate like mine 0 corresponding to freezing is actually of significant value. But yeah, in outside of scientific applications the superior temperature scale is the one you're accustomed to.
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:15 PM
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Side question.

I appreciate metric. Especially in cooking grams and liters are so much easier.

I don't get celcius. Other than being less precise and having 0 and 100 corrospond to freezing and boiling... What's the value?
Less precise?

All scales/measurements are always as precise as you need them to be.

Last edited by orcenio; 08-01-2019 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:30 PM
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I'll do some things in metric.

2 liters of soda, 9mm rounds, grams of cocaine, of course I'm not converting that stuff to imperial just because this is America.

Estimating line-of-sight distances under 300 meters... I'll always do that in meters because that's the only way I ever learnt how to do it (thanks Army!) Doesn't come up that often, though.

Apart from that... I'm all for the US converting to metric, but it will only at gunpoint. An individual grassroots action would be kind of douchey.
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:36 PM
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I don't get celcius. Other than being less precise and having 0 and 100 corrospond to freezing and boiling... What's the value?
You think it's more valuable that 0 was pegged to the freezing point of salt water and 96 is human body temperature because the difference is a power of 2 from the freezing point of ice, but then actually it ended up being 98 for some reason, and 100 doesn't really mean anything?

I mean literally that's what Fahrenheit is.
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:03 PM
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You think it's more valuable that 0 was pegged to the freezing point of salt water and 96 is human body temperature because the difference is a power of 2 from the freezing point of ice, but then actually it ended up being 98 for some reason, and 100 doesn't really mean anything?

I mean literally that's what Fahrenheit is.
Why does it matter? Why does the value of a measuring scale depend on what it's "pegged to"?

But if it does, how useful is it that a meter is defined as the length of the path traveled by light in a vacuum in 1/299792458 of a second?

Last edited by Thudlow Boink; 08-01-2019 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 08-01-2019, 06:25 PM
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Why does it matter? Why does the value of a measuring scale depend on what it's "pegged to"?
We have measuring scales to quantify real things. It's absolutely required that the reference points are distinct (some physical constant). It helps if the constant is universal (a wavelength of light is good). It is better if the constant is accessible (I can't generate a specific wavelength of light, but I can definitely freeze water). It is best if the constant is relevant (I cook when I boil water. I avoid roads when water freezes). And it helps most if the system is mathematically easy to work with (metric is powers of 10, vs powers of 2 times 3 which somehow add up to a mile of 5,280 feet).

The metric system strives to provide all of these. That's why most of the world has adopted it. The imperial people is stupid and is only followed by countries that want to demonstrate they're so powerful they don't need to be smart.
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Old 08-01-2019, 06:40 PM
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The metric system strives to provide all of these. That's why most of the world has adopted it. The imperial people is stupid and is only followed by countries that want to demonstrate they're so powerful they don't need to be smart.
Blasphemer! Commie! J/K!

Edit: Oh wait...your nick points to you probably not being American. Carry On!

Last edited by lingyi; 08-01-2019 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:34 PM
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It is better if the constant is accessible (I can't generate a specific wavelength of light, but I can definitely freeze water). It is best if the constant is relevant (I cook when I boil water. I avoid roads when water freezes).
But boiling water is "Put water on stove, wait for it to boil" and roads don't freeze at 32F or 0C because the road absorbs heat, cars drive over it, it gets salted, etc. So in neither case is there a "relevant constant".

Outside of scientific applications, there's probably very rarely a "relevant constant" (whether you're baking at 350 or 352 isn't going to matter; check your brownies to see how they're looking) and no one is arguing against Celsius for scientific applications.
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:19 PM
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You think it's more valuable that 0 was pegged to the freezing point of salt water and 96 is human body temperature because the difference is a power of 2 from the freezing point of ice, but then actually it ended up being 98 for some reason, and 100 doesn't really mean anything?

I mean literally that's what Fahrenheit is.
No, the value is that it's what we are used to. I see the value in going through the struggle to mentally adjust to metric, it's a more useful and in many ways easier to use system. But I don't know why 30 degrees is better than 86. The scientific reason of mapping to Kelvin makes sense, but doesn't really effect my life.

Last edited by NAF1138; 08-01-2019 at 04:21 PM.
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