# Does the UK use metric system?

…apart from the fact that Liberia and Burma are going to adopt the metric system long before they get anywhere near the moon, NASA now uses the metric system.

Isn’t that pretty much what the modern-day metric system is?

I was using the adjective “metric” in the sense of “a unit that is either one of the base units of SI, or derived from SI units so that all conversion factors among all units involved are powers of 10”. In that sense, °C is not a metric unit itself, since the metric unit of temperature is Kelvin, and converting the former into the latter requires addition of a constant. But °C is, at least, “more metric” than Fahrenheit because Kelvin was dervied from °C, and the conversion is trivially easy, and °C and K are identical when we’re talking about temperature differences rather than absolute temperatures. None of this is true for Fahrenheit.

The whole point of metric is that the conversion factors are powers of 10, e.g. a kilogram is 1,000 grams. I’ve never heard anyone talk about 1,000 degrees Celcius as a “kilodegree”, and I’ve never heard anyone suggest that half a degree Farenheit is 500 “milidegrees”. I’ll admit that there may be some scientist somewhere who talks about temperatures near absolute zero in terms of “milidegrees” Kelvin.

It would be a "milli-kelvin (mK) not millidegree. Kelvin should never have “degrees” in front of it!

Exactly. The only thing the celsius/centigrade scale really has in common with the metric system is that it’s not very popular in the USA.

It’s not really any more ‘metric’ than, say, the 24 hour clock.

BTW, I don’t expect there are scientists that use millidegrees K, because the gradations on the Kelvin scale are not called degrees.

In Canada, some motor oil is sold in 947-millilitre bottles because the struggling oil companies need to save money by using U.S. quart containers. They inevitably cost the same or more as one-litre bottles. It also happens with some bottled liquid foods sold in grocery stores.

I have a 4.4-litre container of motor oil, almost but not quite one gallon Imperial. I have to keep an eye on the guy changing the oil so he doesn’t dump the entire bottle into the engine. Some anti-freeze is sold in 3.87-litre bottles — one gallon U.S.

454-gram goods here mean they’re sold and packaged as 16 ounces in the U.S.

Dammit, Canada never used U.S. sizes. Before metrication, everything was sold in Imperial. My car has a button that switches fuel used from litres per 100 kilometres to “English” miles per gallon, English brightly proclaimed on the dashboard.

But it doesn’t show miles per “English” gallon. It shows miles per U.S. gallon, so I had to print a cheat sheet because U.S. liquid measures are totally uk-fayed.

When I’m God, they’ll all be sorry.

I’m Canadian and I think a nice indoor temperature is 70 and a nice outdoor temperature is 25…

I disagree. I have never in my life heard anyone give their height and weight in metric. There does seem to be a rule that the NHS has to measure and weigh people in metric, so maybe some medical staff might use it in everyday life, but 90% of people would have no idea, for example, whether a 1m 50 tall, 100kg person was short and fat or tall and thin.

I was very comfortable with non-metric measures. Now, after 40+ years of metrification, I’m more comfortable with metric measures. Humans are wonderfully adaptive.

Indeed. How is body surface area measured using imperial units? :eek:

No disagreement from me. I’ve been attempting to explain why people persist in using imperial measures, not justify it.

I did a small experiment: I asked the two little girls who live next door, how tall they were. One said that she was 130 centimetres and the other 140. They didn’t know their weights, but I bet they would have been in kilos.

On the other hand - When I was driving trucks, we used to collect consignments for export. These usually were charged for by volume, so the dimensions of each item had to be recorded - in centimetres. It always used to amuse me that even people who had recently left a school system that dealt entirely in metric, would frequently give the size in imperial.

With all this stuff, people are dealing with the installed base. If your job is residential construction, lumber is still sized at 4x8 feet for plywood and 1-3/4 x 3-2/4 inches. Regardless of what you call it.

If where you’re driving road signs are in miles (or in Km), you’ll be working with that.

Only when the business systems we use daily are calibrated in natural SI units will the need to think in traditional units go away. And as the need goes away, the desire will too. Net of a few curmudgeons and a lot of ignoramuses. All of whom will age out of the populace after awhile.

Selling goods at retail in units of 454 grams is dirt-stupid. I’m sorry to hear any SI country still does such things.

As an example of installed base -

In my industry distances are in nautical miles, speeds are in knots = nautical miles / hr, and altitudes are in feet across most of the planet. The former Soviet Union area and China mostly use SI units (meters, Km, and Km/hr) for these things with some tricky exceptions.

Meteorological info like cloud heights and visibilities are traditional units (feet, statute miles) in the US, and SI units (meters, Km) in most of the rest of the world. A few nominally SI countries still use traditional units. But everywhere, even the US, uses degrees Celsius for temperature and dew point.

The installed base is a bitch.

LSL, does ATC use meters outside the US?

I imagine that started, at least in part, because it’s easier to print a new label for your product than it is to reconfigure the production line for an entirely new size of box/bottle/packet (AND print a new label).

In some cases, it probably was also to try to persuade the curmudgeons to accept the change - i.e. ‘it says 568ml, but it’s still a pint of milk, so you have no cause for alarm.’.

That may have been a good reason ten years ago, but I would imagine that most products will have had at least one packaging/branding update since then. There’s not really much excuse now.

I think your second point probably has a lot more to do with it now. I still remember all the fuss when the EU laws came into effect and food and drink legally had to be sold in metric measures. There were a few market traders, ISTR, that were willing to face criminal charges in order to keep selling groceries in lbs and ounces. :rolleyes:

Yeah, but who says products have to be packed in round number quantities anyway? I just checked my cupboard and found:

Peanut butter 340g
Hot dogs (drained weight) 184g
Ketchup 475g
Marmite 225g
Chutney 615g
Pineapple slices 227g
Olives 125g
Syrup 305g

Some of those pack sizes may be due to legacy conversions, others due to gradual decrements to keep the product at a price point, or promotional increments, etc. What difference does it make?

In China and Russia, yes altitudes are in meters. But with some complicated exceptional situations under which feet are also used in those countries.

In almost all the rest of the world it’s always feet without situational exceptions. It’s feet over the Atlantic and Pacific and all over Europe and South America for example.

I imagine there are pockets of metric altitude elsewhere; I certainly don’t have the whole world’s standards memorized.

Here’s what I use.

Weather Temperature: Both centigrade and Fahrenheit. 0 is cold, 100 is hot. It seems to be centigrade up to about 15 degrees, then Fahrenheit from 60 degrees up.

Distance: short distance metric, long distance imperial. Although I do 5Km or runs, I just think of them as 3 miles (give or take a little bit). If I’m measuring something with a tape measure, it’ll be in whatever measurement is closest to a mark on the measure (e.g. 5 1/4 inches or 13.5 cm whichever is closer)

weight: Heavy things in imperial, light things in metric. a bag of sugar is 1Kg but I weigh 13 stone

Volume: Mainly Imperial, pint of milk or beer (I’m a home brewer, so that is measured in gallons)