Happy Bicentennial Metric System!

The 22nd of June 1799, is the official birthday of the meter and with that the metric system. As with the infamous decimal time system (10 months ASF), the meter is a result of the French Revolution. On this day, 200 years ago, the length of a meter was finally decided, by measuring the distance between Dunkerque, France and Barcelona, Spain. This gave the length of the earth meridian and the length of the meter was defined as a 10th millionth part of a quarter of the meridian. This length was then made into a ruler, made of platinum, and deposited in the National Archive of France.
A call was made to “all civilized countries” to join the new system, meaning the countries France ruled, Spain and Denmark (!) and copies of the ruler was distributed around the French realms and those of the other two countries.
Many of the copies were attached to the facades of buildings, typically near market places.
The rest of the metric system was derived from this meter. The original length gave us the millimeter (1/1000 of a meter), centimeter (1/100), decimeter (1/10) ASF. A liter is defined as one cubic decimeter of water.

Nowadays we now that the platinum ruler in fact was 0.2 millimeter too short and a meter is now defined as being 1.650.763, 73 wavelengths of a spectral line of krypton 86.

Living in one of the countries embracing the metric, I just wanted to say congratulations and Happy Birthday. Given another 200 years, the US might have adopted it too.


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

I’m sure glad we have a simple alternative to that confusing “size of the king’s foot” thing!

As I believe Cecil covered somewhere, the US officially uses the Metric System. Somewhere, in the anals of US legislation, a foot is officially defined as some ratio of a meter. Same with other ‘English’ measures. So if we want to know our country’s official definition of what’s a gallon of gas, it’s a metric measure.

Now when we start to really use liters and grams, outside of Coke and, well, coke, I’ll be a happier camper.


“Somewhere, in the anals of US legislation,”;

you might say in the bowels of the system…

“A friend will help you move house. A best friend will help you move a body.”–Alexi Sayle

To quadell et. al.:
Though I don’t know offhand the citation–the title of the U. S. Code, etc.-- the United States officially adopted the metric system in a bill passed by Congress in 1866 (and, presumably, signed into law by then-President Andrew Johnson):
“It shall be lawful throughout the United States to employ the weights and measures of the metric system; and no pleading (…) shall be deemed invalid because the units of weights and measures included therein are units of the metric system.”
So the metric system is, in fact, the only “official system” of weights and measures in the United States, though the “inch-pound-dram system” (as Cecil himself called it) has by long usage been the de facto official system. All the same, by this law the government has formally sanctioned the metric system.