(Fun fact: all the US customary units have been officially defined in terms of their metric counterparts since 1893: https://www.nist.gov/sites/default/files/documents/pml/wmd/m...)
1 foot -- base 12. This is a superior base to 10. It can be easily divided into 4ths, 3rd, and 2nds. Base 10 can only easily be divided into 2nds.
1 inch -- an easily identifiable unit of measure for smallish things. About the width of my thumb. A pretty good unit.
For low precision, inches become 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/6, 1/64, etc. Each one is half the size of the previous one. I actually like this one a lot. An eight being half of a quarter is a really easy way to work with things when you're building stuff. Think about drilling a bolt hole in the center of a piece (half the width), or drilling two bolt holes with something in the center (divide those halves in half again) etc. Fractional is really good for building stuff.
For precision: thousands of an inch. Harder to visualize, but precise (has the same problems as mm imho). Millionths of an inch when you get into serious metrology.
Okay temperature: In imperial units:
0 = REALLY cold.
100 = REALLY hot.
50 = somewhere in the middle. Put on a sweater, but not dangerous.
100 = about the temperature of a human body.
Water boils at 212F and freezes at 32F. There are 180 degrees (degrees!) between freezing and boiling. 180 is, again, base 12. It's the 15th order of 12.
I actually love imperial units. I greatly prefer them to metric (even though I do use metric very frequently, and can see the appeal). I think I just actually prefer base 12 to base 10.
I also think that F is seriously superior to C.
Take drill bits, for example. Obviously it's much easier to figure out that 11/32" is less than 3/8". Or is it more? No, I'm pretty sure I was right the first time. The metric ones with their 5.5mm, 6mm, 6.5mm sequencing are just too complicated to work with, in comparison. And half a millimeter isn't very precise - it's much bigger than 1/64". Well, a bit bigger. Let's not get into tenths of millimeters.
And at larger scales, of course, base 12 is much easier when it comes to dividing distances. Taking a distance of 2'7" and dividing it by three in your head is much easier than dividing 79cm by three, because... well, 2' divided by three is 8", obviously. If you need to be sure, just tap it into a calculator. That supports base 12...
Anyway, you'll quickly determine that it's 10 1/3", which is much more precise than 26.3333cm. Now I just need to subtract the radii of these two 5/16" holes from that, which is easy - imagine trying to subtract 8mm from 26.3333cm! What folly.
I just weighed myself on my bathroom scale -- 191.2 pounds.
As for building, that's mostly just rounded to the millimetre, centimetres aren't usually ever used.
"In metric, one milliliter of water occupies one cubic centimeter, weighs one gram, and requires one calorie of energy to heat up by one degree centigrade -- which is 1 percent of the difference between its freezing point and its boiling point. An amount of hydrogen weighing the same amount has exactly one mole of atoms in it.
Whereas in the American system, the answer to 'How much energy does it take to boil a room-temperature gallon of water?' is 'Go fuck yourself', because you can't directly relate any of those quantities."
From: "Wild Thing" by [Josh Bazell](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josh_Bazell).
UK resident here, in case you couldn't tell :).
Having both in use simultaneously like we have in Canada, where we work with lots of things manufactured in the US or in Canada for export to the US.
So any technician will have to have both metric and imperial tools, occasionally things of very similar size will get interchanged accidentally - using a 3/4" socket on a 19mm bolt for instance, which will work for a while but eventually round off the head because 3/4" is slightly more than 19mm.
(Look up what happened to the Mars climate orbiter)
Probably a similar number of Americans know the same facts. And any of them would answer "How much energy does it take to boil a room-temperature gallon of water" in the only sensible way -- look up the conversion of gallons to liters, do the calculation in metric, and convert back from calories to whatever unit you want (BTUs, I guess).
The point is: nobody, including Americans, uses the customary system in chemistry labs. Nobody ever has cause to calculate how many BTUs it takes to boil a gallon of water without reference to the metric system. So the argument is a bit specious.
This is not the case. This part: "one milliliter of water occupies one cubic centimeter, weighs one gram" is known by most people, even kids in primary school. In other words everyone knows that a litre of water weighs one kilogram, and that there are 1000 litres in a square metre. I concede, though, that at least in Italy, which is the country where I was born and raised, most people wouldn't know the next part: "and requires one calorie of energy to heat up by one degree centigrade".
We are taught to use the scales for measuring ingredients - and thanks to this trick you can weigh water (and milk) and vegetable oil (using 5-10% less) if you don't have a measuring jug.
They taught us that in 4th grade in cooking classes. Then they made us remember that in physics and chemistry classes 2 years later.
Of course I don't remember a lot of things from the 4th grade. This one stands out.
I wouldn’t be so certain about that. I’ve used that to conceptualize volumes and weights ever since I first learned that in school.
Or, ounces: How many ounces in a gallon? A pound? And how many _kinds_ of ounces are there, anyways?
Fun fact: The term “ounce” is of Latin origin from the word “uncia” which means “a twelfth part.” http://www.differencebetween.net/science/mathematics-statist... So...what's an ounce a twelfth of?
Or, say, a pint. What's the definition of a pint?
It's a twelfth of a troy pound, or Roman libra (lb).
These two episodes from The History of English podcast trace these seemingly arbitrary units through history and give them some context. My favorite is the derivation of 5280 feet per mile. Also, that "mark twain" is a depth sounding of two fathoms.
We don't really use pints for measuring anything else these days.
That's about 50ml more than I'm used to getting when I order a "pint".
And of course 4 quarts to the gallon and two pints to the quart.
Otherwise like in the US in what is commonly known as the English system there is only 3785 mL to the gallon.
A quart is about the maximum amount of whiskey one can drink without dying.
A pint's a pound, the world around.
My favorite is the cord, which is 128 cubic feet, or more often a stack of firewood 4 feet tall by four feet wide by eight feet long.
Those are literally the only redeemable qualities about imperial units, and they have nothing at all to do with their utility as a tool for measurement.
I am glad that you like them. Use them all you like. I won't.
As far as we know, humans are the only thing in the universe that care about any of this stuff. A computer couldn't care less if you are using 1 foot or 0.3048 meters.
Why not optimize for humans, the things actually using these things? Optimizing for the computer just seems...silly. It seems like something somebody from the 1970s would have thought was a futuristic idea.
THAT'S why human intuition about measurement doesn't mean a damn thing.
Using metric means using the system optimized for humans. Period.
A scalable system that shares the divisibility of the foot would certainly trump both systems.
The usual convention in construction in Europe is multiples of 150mm, for example a typical large appliance is 595mm wide to fit a 600mm wide space.
Which might be obvious due to me debating the merits of the number 12 on the internet.
Base-10 absolutism rears its head again. The objection to 1/3 is that it has a non-terminating decimal expansion. This is not a problem if you're using base-anything-with-3-as-a-factor.
As for temperature, 0 is really gold and 100 is really hot in pretty much every scale, that's just a very subjective way of describing things.
It's just an established convention. And it sucks.
Measuring dry goods by volume instead of by weight? Good luck ever getting consistent results.
Base 10 math is the most intuitive for humans. Fractions are an abomination.
And whatever you are measuring that length with, fucking awesome job getting 1/16 or better tolerances over that amount of distance with .
Humans are good at base 10.
For this human, the relationships when (for instance) talking about water are great -
1g = 1ml = 1cm^3
Humans are really good at doubling and halving, which the Imperial system excels at.
What's double of 3.7 feet? Or half of 1.5? What is 3.7 feet even? Is it 3 feet 7 inches or 3 feet plus 7th of a feet (This last question is a nitpick)
Any of these in metric are super simple, but just harder to do in base-12.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not a proponent of the Imperial system (for instance, calculating prices for groceries is painful). I am just pointing out that the metric system doesn’t take into account many Human use cases (Base-10 isn’t great for Humans). It was a system forced upon people by an ‘ivory tower’, and consistent with US philosophy, it makes sense that they rejected it.
It's definitely ONLY because of base12, but being base12 - imo - positions it far beyond metric for daily use. There's a reason why food items so commonly come by the dozen. Why would anyone prefer to build a house using a system that can't even accurately measure 1/3?
Far out I can invent a system that is unique to everything, and I can create my own abominable conversion ratios all I like. It doesn't make the system superior, it makes my system necessarily inferior.
My TV is now 12 Settos in size. My surround system consumes 12 audots of power. My fridge holds 12 cubic fudo of room.
There. Now everything is easily divisible by 12ths.
I won't even go into conversion factors on this insanity.
Metric is objectively the better system to anyone that doesn't have a decades-long familiarity with the stupidity that is the imperial system. That's coming from an american without a college education, by the way. I am the target demographic for the pro-imperial people. I wasn't abducted into any metric-only education system and forced to convert or fail and disappoint my family. I was a disappointment by my own hand, thank you very much.
Good luck with imperial. And has to be accurate to .02mm. In metric? This is a no brainer
Whole numbers don't make things easier to measure or cut or reason about. I can measure in thirds or fifths of a meter or a foot or an inch or any unit you want with a compass and a straight edge.
You're arguing that the mark on the tape measure is possible for imperial and impossible for metric, when thirds are involved. Not true.
I work in software and data analysis in the construction industry. A continuous measurement is good for some things, but it's definitely not good for discrete measurements. Furthermore, a lot of the people who work in the field for construction greatly prefer Imperial for a reason. They have no bias towards systems beyond what works fast and easy.
If you consistently have to use a weird measurement over and over again, you usually end up making a temporary ruler (paper, wood, metal) anyways
(The point is, there is nothing any more "infinite" about the rational number 1/3 than 1/4, 1/5, 1/2 or what have you. It just can't be written in the arbitrary base 10 system, just like 1/5 can't be written in base 12)
Am I missing something? Wouldn’t it just be putting your finger on the 10 cm mark? This is approx 4”.
I realize this is not exact conversion, but it’s trivial to come up with examples where metric is easier: say you have a piece of wood 7 7/8” long that you want to cut in half. Is it easier to put your finger on 3 15/16” or 10 cm?
How about 1/3rd of a tree? It's likely to be in some ungodly fractional amount of an inch, that's extremely hard to convert into feet, but in metric the decimal system just makes it super easy.
Not being a whole number does not make it harder to find where it is.
By the way, why isn't your currency base 12? All the purported benefits that apply to length would certainly apply to money as well.
You also can't point to a line to measure a quarter of an inch, unless they have specifically added 1/4 marks. What's your point?
But from what I am reading it sounds like you’re not able to do the job, the blocks need to be 3 1/3” wide each. It’s a no-go if I see someone try to cut them to 3 5/16”
What kind of system doesn’t let you cut such a fundamental length into thirds. Crazy.
I think both systems of units typical cases are dominated by human factors. Anecdotally, humans tend to use one of three scales for their preferred choice of measurement and they tend to be smaller-than-human, human, larger-than-human.
For example, the km. I see mm, m and km used quite often.. but the other bases are almost never used. A prime case for this is "what is the distance to the sun?" If you're going to round your answer then the most concise form is 150 Gm, yet most people will still say something like "150 million km" which is unnecessarily long and non-canonical, but is much more familiar to the human mind and makes comparisons to everyday experiences much simpler.
You can see this factor occur with just about every other metric base unit, even though the conveniently prefixed part of the system would be "better" for all technical definitions. Just as easily you could use imperial units and just overlay the metric prefix and scaling rules on top of them and it would be no more or less accurate or better than the metric system of units.
> Use them all you like. I won't.
I use whatever is convenient or common for the application.. if it gets complicated or I need a conversion, I use a unit-system aware language or environment to do my calculations. It really obviates the importance of the choice of unit and allows you to think about the fundamental problem more clearly along with many other benefits including conversion of units at any stage of calculation.
I was attending a kids planetarium show as a volunteer and the professor asked this question and a kid proudly shouted “1 AU!”
This lets one make a pretty good argument that metric has advantages sufficient to justify having to buy new rulers and scales.
For temperature, what is the justification for switching from F to C? We don't usually subdivide temperature units, so really all C does different from F is change the size of the degree and what physical process the scale is calibrated to.
One can argue that the physical processes chosen for C calibration are more convenient than those for F. C was 0 == water freezing, 100 == water boiling. F was 0 == temperature of a mixture of water, ice, and ammonium chloride, 100 == body temperature of a healthy man.
But that could have been fixed without changing the scale at all. Just redefine F so that 32 == freezing of water, 212 == boiling of water. That would fix the one problem F had without requiring anyone to get a new thermometer.
The rest of the world already using ℃. Imagine no more dual scale thermometers, no more switches in weather apps, etc :D
I meant what was the justification for adopting C initially for the metric system instead of using F?
For other metric units, there were serious problems with the pre-metric units. For example, Wikipedia says that by the time of the French Revolution, the existing system had become impractical for trade.
It doesn't say why it had become impractical, but my guess would be it had a lot to do with no good standard values for the units. If the units are not well defined in a way that gives the same values everywhere, it makes long distance trade harder.
I base this guess on doing some research once to figure out why they did not defined the meter to make conversion to Imperial easier. Since they were free to define the meter any way they wanted, they could have made 1 meter == 1 yard, which would have made conversions of long distances easier. Or they could have defined the millimeter as 1/25th of an inch, which would have made conversions of short distances easier than the 1/25.4th of an inch that we ended up with.
As far as I was able to determine, this was never an option because, as far as I could find, there was no widespread agreed definition of inches, feet, yards, etc. All that was standard was the relationships among them (1 foot == 12 inches, 3 feet == 1 yard, and so on).
There probably was no way to fix that without adopting a completely new unit, because if they tried to just make a new standard for, say, the yard I'm sure it would have gotten bogged down in arguing over whose yard to base it on. The French would think everyone should adopt their yard, the English would think everyone should adopt theirs, and so on.
So, a new unit, based on something not tied to any one region or nation, makes sense.
Temperature did not suffer from this, or did not suffer from it in a way that was not easily fixable. F was based on a reproducible physical 0 point based on the temperature of a brine with a self-stabilizing temperature. The only problem F had was that there had been some waffling over the other calibration point, which had been fixed well before the first attempts at a metric system.
So...why did they pick C?
The thing is 1V is also 1Nm or 1J or 1Ws. So suddenly we have the meter there right besides the Newton. In fact if you look beyond "I build my own shed in the US"-scenarios, you will find the meter everywhere intertwined in the definition of other units. In fact the definition of imperial length units is based on the metric definition of the length light travels through vacuum in 1/299792458s. So the foundation of the meter is light speed, which helps with all kind of practical issues in physics.
The metric system has maximum compatibility to all these unit systems (except the °C which is a more-practical-for-every-day-use offset version of Kelvin).
Unit systems are always something you grow up with and are therefore an emotional topic. People will take fractions of inches as an example of how metric fractions fail to deliver, when in fact no european woodworker has even remotly a problem with doing their thing in mm. In front of me lies a ruler with a 0.1mm scale and a caliper with 0.01mm or 1/128In accuracyIf I really wanna be ±0.01mm accurate on a cut of 1/3m or 333.33mm getting that accuracy would not be easier in inches. My saw blade is precisely 2mm wide anyways..
V*C = J = Nm = Ws
I have never, in around four decades of living, had an actual need to determine the mass of a given volume of water, or the volume of a given mass of water.
When cooking, I routinely need to split some quantity of an ingredient into thirds or quarters.
Yet I am also constantly told that I'm ignorant and backwards and irrational for preferring a system that optimizes for the latter, rather than for the former. Base 12 is genuinely better for many real-world applications than base 10, those applications are more common in the lives of non-scientists than the applications metric is optimized for, and I doubt you're going to be able to produce a rational argument otherwise.
I remember when some guys thought about building a pool on the balcony, calculating how much water weighs is admitably not ver often used, but when it is the consistency of the metric system is nice.
I work with wood in mm for years and never had any problem with the metric system. Finding the third, fifth or sixth or whatnot is not hard if you are used to it at all. Converting from mm to meters isn’t hard, etc.
Having a number like 666.66 mm probably sounds scary to measure (beyond the religious connotations), but in fact it is a point on a line that is easy enough to find.
“Global standard” isn’t necessarily an argument for “good.” Why aren’t imperial units the standard? Who actually decided that metric was the right answer?
And as a previous poster mentioned; why don’t we say a megameter or gigameter when talking about long distances? Because ultimately measurement units are really about human understanding, despite ostensibly being “scientific.” A foot as just as scientific as a meter. NASA went to the moon with imperial units and it worked out just fine. People and countries are entitled to their preferences. We don’t advocate English or Chinese to be the global standard language. Or that all countries use euros or dollars. Weights and measures can be perfectly accurate regardless of the units used; the idea that we should either create or adhere to a global standard is not unlike suggesting everyone speak the same language.
Using a country that excels in being contrary, to the point of being the national pastime, is a poor example.
Even then we literally use metric for everything else. And although it is referred to as a pint, it is measured in metric.
Weighing yourself in kilos is a more modern thing, but that is really the only thing.
Standards make it easy for people to work with each other across borders, and most of the world uses metric already.
NASA has since then started all of their new projects on Metric too.
I do agree with your point about the fact that weights and measures can be accurate regardless of the units used, the argument against Imperial isn't about accuracy, it's about ease of conversion and changing bases of the unit scale. (Like 12 inches to a foot, but 3 feet to a yard etc)
People who wanted actual definition of units.
Once upon a time if you wanted to sell stuff in my home City you would need to use the city measurements made via a really big stone tablet in the old roman center with various units of lengths.
This was hard to communicate and stuff.
The French decided that one unit of measurement was better than many and made one "easy" (possible) to replicate and validate when the imperial one still used medium sized wheat seeds as measure of pressure.
But now everything is ultimately standardized on the metric system (even the US).
So one need to ask better at what? Better to standardize? Metric no doubt. Better to use? Well this appears to be controversial
Plenty of people are "bilingual" with metric and local. Canadians are universally bilingual with metric and imperial. It's not that hard.
I honestly cannot make any sense of this part of your argument. The symbols 10 would only look like ten they would still mean a dozen and the properties would remain the same. Furthermore people don’t think in twelves because we are not taught in a dozenal numbering system. And there is no need for twelve fingers it would be a simple thing to create two additional hand symbols to teach children to count to a dozen.
Twelve is a great base. I would prefer it but it isn’t the sort of thing that can be changed.
By the way, you can count base12 on your hands using the digits of your fingers. We just teach kids to use fingers because it's the norm.
Plus you get all the convenience of having five digits on a hand and 5 as the highest counting digit, so you can count to 55 on two hands, and all the rest of the benefits in that (totally serious) video.
Thinking that you could represent the quantity IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII by the string "21" because it's 2 * 10 + 1, or similarly as "three fingers on left hand, three fingers on right hand" seems obvious to us now, but is actually pretty recent technology relative to the whole timescale of human development
People counted on fingers like with tally marks - they could express the numbers one through ten. Thus ten became an important and familiar number to humans. Thus it would have seemed natural to use a base 10 number system many millennia later.
I would be happy if that number was 12 but the simple fact that we write in base ten makes it not the case (also mathematically speaking 12 is divided by a square which causes weird things)
There is nothing wrong with 12 but as long as you cannot do 63895*12 easily 10 is better
They're resurfacing a surface plate, which has to be very flat. If you listen to the exchanges between them, everything is being done in millionths of an inch.
I don't think miles have an advantage over kilometers.
In Canada, people have trouble understanding the various measures if '10ml' of this, or '10mg' of that.
They do understand 'a teaspoon' or a 'large spoon'.
I think we need some kind of colloquial measure for food.
You drink out of cups every day; this is what humans, even you understand.
'A scale' is inapplicable while you're buying food or reading labels.
Why use a scale when everyone knows what a cup and teaspoon are? They are human measurements.
But it doesn't matter what you use, what matters is what people understand, and they don't understand grams and millilitres.
It's been identified as a health problem: people don't have an intuition for the units on labels - there should be imperial units to help them understand.
As for litre/gallon or pound/kg I don't think it matters ... but consider for a moment that everyone in Canada that I know still uses pounds. And feet/inches for height.
I don't know a single person that can tell you their weight in Kg, maybe heir height in meters but they'd have to think about it.
Regular people use them for basic baking all the time, like making pancakes.
'Cups' are still better measures than ml because even you, in your self-acclaimed ignorance have a sense of how much a cup is whereas people do not have any idea how much '300ml' is.
Canadians have no clue what 10ml of anything is.
Canadians will continue to use feet and pounds for personal measure, despite being surrounded by total metric system - that should tell you something.
Do you order beer in ml? Or pints?
Seriously, do you know anyone that orders a 473ml of beer?
So why pints? And not ml? Because it makes sense.
Everything should be in metric, but many things should also be Imperial because metric is not useful for many common measurements.
The entire construction industry in Canada still uses Imperial, and it also weirdly makes sense. Inches and feet are slightly more approachable at smaller scale.
Everyone here is obviously biased toward his/her own measurement system based on our experience, but the fact that "3 cups and a half of milk" is more precise than "875mL of milk" is clearly false.
I'm saying it's often more useful.
1 cup mix, 1 cup milk + 1 egg.
1 pint of beer.
1 teaspoon of sugar.
These are things everyone can understand.
You can put the ml on the side of the label.
"That guy is 6 feet tall, about 180 lbs."
Is better than metric for most people.
"I'll have a glass of wine" instead of "I'll have 240 ml of wine"
Any one of you who orders beer by the 'ml' can keep arguing with me, but I suspect you all order 'pints' in which case you should consider for a moment why you do that.
Eh, no, here in my country nobody uses that units, all the recipes and in the stores, the units are ml, kg, etc
I don't order beer at all, but around here it's usually ordered as 500 ml (a little further south, especially around October, they tend to order 1 liter).
No, you get a sense of this if you live somewhere that uses ml for things.
One can of soda is 330 ml.
5 grams of sugar? Nobody knows what that means.
They know what 5 tea-spoons is though.
I'll be $100 that if they put 'teaspoons of sugar' instead of grams, people would be shocked. There are videos showing how much sugar in a can of Coke, and it's largely because people are oblivious to the units on the label, which we can all technically read.
Cups are fine for rough and ready, but terrible for baking.
The idea that not having straight fractional values somehow makes it harder is just plainly false. When you tell anybody to cut a third of a meter they will just happily cut 333.33 mm down to their usual tolerance
Then if you look at imperial units of weight, it deviates away from base 12 again. It counts upwards from a pound using base 14 with stone and ton. And then when counting downwards it uses base 16 for a little bit with ounces, followed by out of nowhere throwing in a 1/7000 for a grain unit.
Even ignoring the scientific applications, none of this is easier for visualization purposes than grams or kilograms, nor is it all that useful for volumetric units either with maybe the exception of using cups instead of milliliters for cooking.
Rough conversions: 1.1, 2.2, 3.3 for volume (quart to L), weight (pound to kg), length (foot to m).
One gallon is: 4 quarts * (1 L / 1.1 quarts) * (1 kg / L) * (2.2 pounds / kg) = 4 * 2.2 / 1.1, so a gallon is roughly 8 pounds.
Not sure what you are getting at here. A gallon is about 8.3 lbs (3.8kg).
A gallon is 128 oz, a nice base-2 number.
Further evidence of how stupid these measurements are.
Yeah, no. You're just suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or being thinly ironic.
People have absolutely no problem associating numbers to temperature sensations in C. And actually people can objectively feel temperature differences from around 2C/5F so in that way C is superior to F, 1F difference is meaningless.
This is however perhaps a good argument in favour of non-decimal currency.
Measurements are just a number and you will always have tolerances and chains of measurements to go with them to clarify what you expext as a end result.
It's true that this applies just as much to non-metric units, of course! But then if divisibility isn't a big deal, this goes both ways - meaning that the disadvantages of the metric system's base 10 orientation may well be minor in practice, and not enough to outweigh the advantages.
(Actually though I think the metric system has you more cleanly covered for this sort of case, with its consistent set of prefixes for scaling up and down by 1,000. Non-metric units tend to be a random jumble of 8s, 12s, 16s, or worse.)
So, until such time as we switch to base 12 for all numbers, metric is superior, because it is simpler.
I think this is the biggest problem with metric/imperial arguments - most of it is actually based on emotional attachment deep down.
For example, dividing a foot into thirds or fourths is trivial, but for a meter it requires either going two orders of magnitude (25/100ths for a quarter) or simply cannot perfectly represent the amount (1/3).
Now, not all imperial units have sane definitions, and they don't even all follow similar rules (8 fluid oz. to a cup, 16 fluid ozz to a pint, you lose thirds but can still easily do fourths).
In a lot of ways, base 10 is really substandard to base 12, we just used base 10 because it's physically easy and socially ingrained. Who knows, maybe 100 years from now we'll teach in base 12 and have a new system that's base 12, and all the metric die-hards will been seen as backwards yokels that cling to a clearly substandard system because of history and it's what they know? I mean, I really, really doubt it, but it would be better than the metric system as long as most people could easily think in base 12 (which would require a massive social upheaval).
You represent a quarter as the fraction 25/100ths to show how impractical it is, instead of writing 1/4.
Would it be so hard to build a ruler with thirds measured on it, so you don't need to try and guess 0.333333 from mm readings? Like http://teaching.monster.com/nfs/teaching/attachment_images/0... but made of metal
Actually, I said "It cannot perfectly represent the amount (1/3)", so I specifically game an example immediately after the statement of exactly what I was talking about, which you then ignored and used an example for a different item to represent erroneously. What's up with that?
> You represent a quarter as the fraction 25/100ths to show how impractical it is, instead of writing 1/4.
No, I represent a quarter as 25/100's to show how it would be accurately represented in metric. 1/4 meter is not pure metric, it's applying a non-metric modifuer to a metric amount. The metric representation of 1/4 meters is 25 centimeters, which is 25/100.
Let me lay it out side by side:
- 1 and 1/2 units
Imperial: 1 foot 6 inches or 18 inches
Metric: 1 meter 50 centimeters or 15 decimeters or 150 centimeters
- 1 and 1/3 units
Imperial: 1 foot four inches or 16 inches
Metric: 1 meter 33 centimetersa and 3 millimeters and... or 133.33... centimeters
- 1 and 1/4 units
Imperial: 1 foot 3 inches or 15 inches.
Metric: 1 meter 25 centimeters or 125 centimeters
That's not to say imperial units are good. They are hard to use for most things because they change across types of things measures, and counting in twelfths when needed is much more painful than in tenths.
But, if we were taught in a 12 base system we would be able to use it easily, and base 12 has more cases where it can be used easily than base 10. Everything else would be the same except than our sense of scale would be a little different and we would have an easier tome subdividing things in many cases.
Metric isn't an optimal system, it's just the optimal system for right now and the world we currently live in. But for a few historical turns of fate, it might have been very different.
> Would it be so hard to build a ruler with thirds measured on it, so you don't need to try and guess 0.333333 from mm readings? Like http://teaching.monster.com/nfs/teaching/attachment_images/0.... but made of metal
Then it's not metric. That's the point. We use these values anyway, yet you have to step outside the metric system to represent them easily. Adding extra marks that don't correspond to the regular intervals is confusing, so it's avoided. That's why most rulers in the united states show metric on one side and imperial on the other.
What? Fractions aren't exclusive to the imperial system.
1/4 of a metre is metric, just as a 1/4 of an inch is imperial.
Everything below is a perfectly legitimate way of writing metric units:
1/4 m = 6/24 m = 3/12 m = 0.25 m = 25 cm = 250 mm
There's some inches that are sub-divided into tenths (maybe 1/20), and others sub-divided into sixteenths (maybe 32nds or 64ths). Often with heavier markings on more significance. For easy division and fractioning of whatever it is you are doing.
If it's imperial only (v. rare nowadays) there's usually a coarser scale or two for easier subdivision or when the 16ths and finer just don't matter.
Buy a metric rule.
There's mm, cm, and metres. Nowt else, not even weighting of marks except usually 1cm or 5mm. For measurement this is fine. For division such as in woodwork, metalwork and building, this is often a pain in the ass.
Metric only usually engraves just one side or exactly duplicates. No coarser scales.
So even when working in metric I often find an older imperial rule a better working tool(!)
No more often than it is a multiple of 12mm, 60mm, or whatever.
Real distances are either designed for easy calculation, like my N*150mm kitchen pieces, or are some random length.
If you use fractions often or work with weirder fractions anybody who is worth their grain of salt will build custom temporary rulers or helper systems anyways. And then it won't matter at all if your unit is hyperinches or fractions of lightspeed traveling through frozen beer in a second.
I can see how anybody who grew up with inches likes that one better, but in the end it is just numbers on a scale.
My point is a system with less need for that because it can handle more common divisions easily would be good.
> I can see how anybody who grew up with inches likes that one better
I tried to be very explicit in that I was not promoting the imperial system. I'm not even promoting imperial distance over metric distance. I'm purely using feet because there's a base 13 for inches to illustrate how a full base 12 system might work. Feet and inches are much worse than metric even in this case because that conversion only happens at one spot, not at regular orders of magnitude.
All I was saying is that since it's a fact there are some things that can be done in base 12 that can't be done in base 10 but not the other way aroubd, it would be really interesting (and extremely unlikely) if we somehow shifted to a base 12 metric-like system. That wouldn't be imperial (which has a different conversion every time you blink).
I learned a lesson though. People are very protective of the metric system. Even opining about fictional future possibilities with mathematical facts will lead to downvoting into oblivion and people misinterpreting clear assertions as something they aren't.
My point was, that from a practicle standpoint this doesn't really matter. If you need to tick of a third of a meter somewhere just a few times, everybody would just happily make a mark at 333.33mm – if you need to do this 50 times, building a temporary ruler is a good idea in any measurment system, because it reduces both cognitive load and the likelyhood of mismeasurement. This is especially true if you are building something that involves many steps that are repetitive, similar, but different enough to ruin your day if you fuck up.
For me one of the best things about the metric system is, that it in fact is base10 because it eases the conversion and calculation between units and has cool effects that imo outwheigh the cool things you would get from going base12.
Going base12 in a good way would mean going base12 fully, including temperatures, currencies, voltages, weight, etc. and this would mean turning a whole culture of knowledge upside down and inside out. If we would have a world dictator they might try something like this. From a distribution perspective it is desirable to have one standardized unit system that makes sense.
So my pain point isn't exactly metric vs imperial, but that in 2018 we still need to deal with these two systems and the conversion between them. Metric is far more wide spread than imperial and this has reasons, some historical, some political, some practical. If you are one who thinks national unilateralisms are a waste of energy and potential, you are certainly in favour of the metric system, just because it would be easier for the world to agree on going fully metric, than it would be for the world to go fully imperial.
And I am not talking about everybody having to use it in their day to day life – just look at the UK. I am talking about certain space agencies, industry, electrical engineering etc, where these things can have real graspable consequences, maybe even deaths.
Which is why I keep one of each in the tool chest. :)
What? you switch to metric and suddenly fractions are not a thing any more?
1/3 m is just that, one third of a meter, perfectly. How is that so complicated? It can also be 333.3mm. And no one would write it as 333/1000 to make it seem more complicated than it is.
10 C = you need a jacket
15-25 C = great outdoors temperatures
20 C = good house temperature in the winter
25 C = good house temperature in the summer
30 C = too hot to go out doing physical activity, good for a picnic or a day at the beach
35 C = too hot to go out, period
40 C = hot bath
100 C = boiling water
A meter is basically a slightly longer step. I think most tradesmen over here got a pretty good sense how to walk a meter.
0.1m or 1dm or 10cm or 100mm is basically the width of your hand.
1cm or 10mm is roundabout the width of the pinky finger
However, beyond basic human usage, I quickly switch to metric for anything involving actual math: simulation, science, finance, etc.
A "cup" is about what a normal drink is. A liter is an insane amount of liquid for everyday use. I don't sit down and drink a liter of wine, I have a cup of wine.
Also handy to know that I need 3-6-3 ammounts to make pancakes. 3 eggs, 6 litres of milk and 3 dl flour (that will be meassured with grams because easier, can just pour everything into the bucket and press "tara"). Flour weighs 60 g per dl. Put bowl on scale, start it. Pour flour in the bowl until it reads 180 g. Reset and pour in milk until it says 300 g. Mix until perfect. Add eggs. Reset scale and pour another 300 g and mix again. Start frying!
Sure, inches are great, but below 1/4", screws are in a numbered system (higher number is larger) while the corresponding drill bits are in a different numbered system (higher number is smaller) or lettered (A to Z). Wire and sheet metal gage numbers are still different.
An #8-32 thread takes a #29 tap drill...
Each set of 10 degrees in C is a pretty clear temperature range.
-10 to 0: cold
Both are not metric though. Metric unit for temperature is kelvin.
The number of inches in a mile is harder to get than the number of millimeters in a kilometer or grams in a ton.
A mile is...a mile. A half a mile, a quarter of a mile, an eighth of a mile, etc. Yeah, there are 5280 feet in a mile. There are also 25.8 or something like that mm in a inch, some other arbitrary unit of conversion that we all have to memorize.
Then it suddenly starts to matter if the result is Nm, Nmn or a Newton times a inch
Example: a Volt – which also the US uses with its metric prefixes – is defined as a Joule or a Wattsecond or a Newtonmeter.
A meter is a slightly longish step.
A decimeter is the width of a hand.
A centimeter is the width of a pinky finger.
A milimeter is twice the thickness of your fingernail.
It is actually no less or more intuitive than the imperial system (except when it comes to calculations, unit conversion and interfacing with other SI units like Volts, Joules, Watts etc.) I feel very comfortable working with digits like 12.5 or 33.33. I think a lot of the imperial-versus-metric-debate boils down to the question how big your love for fractions is and how things are measured around you. If everything is built with 2 by 4 wood, then a metric system is inconvinient. If your hardware store sells 4x8cm wood, then going to inches would be inconvinient.
I'm glad I'm not the only person who thinks this way.
What I personally find disturbing is how irrational positions such as yours are commonly accepted in a supposedly advanced society. It leads to a pretty bumpy road, time and time again.
But since we‘re talking politics: it were the „progressive“ Bauhaus proponents like Corbusier, that proclaimed that what we build should use human scale as foundation of measurement. What OP said is exactly that.
But I also find unlikely you support the metric system, at least other than for white knighting random strangers that you happen to agree with.
This is, frankly, insulting. You may disagree about the merits of blhack's arguments, but that doesn't make them illogical or unreasonable.
It would be one thing if you said, "Here's why I think blhack has got it wrong, and why the arguments presented don't hold water." But you just tossed an insult without bothering to refute. Bad form.
Imperial units are just better for humans to use. I would love if somebody could give me a redeeming quality for metric, but so far nobody has.
1/10th of a meter gets you a lot of the same usability as a foot measurement, but now adding centimeters onto that is more straightforward. A lot easier to calculate for measuring space for furniture, height, etc. . .
I mean, there's a big important point where you start getting solid things falling on your head and slick icy roads and ruined fruit-plants, so it ought to be at more meaningful spot, like 0.
I'm a scientist and an engineer, and in those applications C is often better. But in daily life, Fahrenheit makes a ton of sense.
20 C - a bit less than room temperature (68 F)
30 C - pretty hot (86 F)
40 C - very hot (104 F)
And going the other way:
10 C - a bit chilly (50 F)
0 C - cold (32 F)
-10 C - real cold (14 F)
-20 C - really really cold (-4 F)
When you hear a temperature in Celsius, don't try to convert it to Fahrenheit, just think in Celsius. 15 degrees is halfway between "chilly" 10 C and "room temp" 20 C. One degree of warming - say 26 C to 27 C - is pretty easy to conceptualize when you have those 10-degree reference points.
If it was always reported to the half point I think we would be able to relate to Celsius better. And if I was making a population wide change I’d ensure reporting was always to the half degree.
Those people are free to use whatever units they like. It doesn't have much bearing on the point that Fahrenheit, which is used in the United States, is a good match for the climate of most of the United States.
OTOH, as far as weather goes, C has the nice property that anything below zero is freezing temperature. In any locale where snow and ice is a thing, that's handy to know.
Yesterday it was +20 C, today it is +25 C, so it is noticeably warmer.
-10 C tomorrow, so you'll need your woolen cap and padded jacket. -20 C and add a layer of underwear underneath and maybe a scarf.
When you boil water for tea (100 C) and don't want the water boiling but still hot, aim for 95 C.
When the inner temperature of salmon is +46 C, it is perfect, if it is +56 C or more, it is thoroughly cooked and will not taste soft anymore.
Usually the relevant difference is 5 or 10 degrees.
I don't even want to think what those examples could be as Fahrenheit.
My point is it is eventually a matter of what you are used to, but Celsius is more logical, because it is directly tied to water freezing and boiling.
For the most logical measurements we'd use Kelvin, but it is not practical! "Oh, it is 273.15 K outside, might be black ice on the roads"
I must strongly disagree.
The freezing point of water is an incredibly important and pragmatic point of reference for hundreds of millions of people around the world, who live in places where water can freeze (or thaw) on its own outdoors. Not just for transportation, but also its affect on biology in agriculture.
While the boiling point is (thankfully) not important for weather-reports... Cooking! What would you do if I said to "simmer" something? You aren't supposed to go high enough to reach the obvious boiling point, so how are you supposed to know when you're close enough if you can't remember the magic number?
As far as boiling and cooking, I would argue that there is no magic number anyways, since boiling point is variable by elevation. At 7500 feet / ~2250 meters, water boils at 198°F.
That's an excellent point, let's examine the relationship between altitude and boiling point, in both American units and everywhere-else-in-the-world units :
5000 feet -> 202.97 F
7500 feet -> 198.33
10000 feet -> 193.6 F
1000 meters -> 96.73 C
2000 meters -> 93.38 C
3000 meters -> 89.95 C
In both cases, the boiling points at altitude are magic numbers. The difference is that with Celsius, you can interpret degrees as "percentage of the way from freezing to boiling". Going from 100 C at 0 meters to 90 C at 3000 meters is immediately meaningful as a 10% decrease. With degrees Fahrenheit, that same 10% drop in boiling temperature that happens at around 3000 meters / 10,000 feet is 212 F to 194 F.
100 -> 90 is 10% decrease.
212 -> 194 is ~8.5% decrease (and I had to go out of my way to count that).
Note: Americans hate it when I do this.
"He won't move an inch," or "He won't move a centimeter."
"She won't quit until she's six feet under," or "She won't quit until she's two meters under."
"I'll go the whole nine yards," or "I'll go the whole nine meters."
"You can see for miles and miles," or "You can see for kilometers and kilometers."
Changing your scientific measuring system doesn't necessitate a change to your colloquialisms; commonly used phrases don't change.
And we have expressions including other old units that you don't have (lieu, arpent, toise, etc.).
Heck, most people using them don't even have a rough idea of how much they originally meant, and if you were to press them to give you a number for the sake of an experiment, they might be 2 orders of magnitude off.
The heuristics at play that the human brain would use is likely: "5 miles is way more than I'd normally want to walk on my feet, since the trip would take me about 2 hours."
Honestly your comment, assuming it is meant to be taken seriously, strikes me as bizarre, and I suspect you're misinterpreting your American friends' reactions.
But indeed, most people worldwide are surprised when you tell them that there is no standard inch or standard pound sitting in a vault somewhere. Most machines, and most design software, have a button that switches between US and metric, and the machine itself doesn't care. More and more new products in the US use metric fasteners unless it's for something where a standard applies to exactly one thing, such as spark plug thread. I have used my metric tools more than my US tools in the process of doing repairs around the house, on my car, and my bikes.
One fastener on my bike uses Whitworth threads.
For all intents and purposes, it has ceased to matter.
It's easy to understand construction and cooking concepts in imperial? But you just used a decimal based currency to buy the materials for the said uses, and could easily add up the costs of those materials in your head instead of staring blankly at the cashier who was trying to add 77 shillings and 23 half-crowns.
(the opposite of https://xkcd.com/2073)
The new metric definitions work because they don't change the actual amount, they just change the way the amount is defined. (Natural constant vs reference weight)