Measures of area are missing. I still remember very old people talking of Morgen, whithout having any clue how much that would be. Used to describe the size of a farm. I guess it was somehow metric already, but I'm sure farms where measured centuries before.
It's the area "tillable in the morning hours of a day by one man behind an ox or horse dragging a single bladed plough" (about 2500 m^2, though regional variations were 4000 or even up to 10000 m^2).
Interestingly, the acre was also historically determined as the area that can be ploughed in one whole day by a team of eight oxen, namely 1 furlong x 1 chain or 4047 m^2.
Not sure what that says about German vs Anglo-Saxon working hours or oxen...
I should have known Terry Pratchett had based this on some kind of real-world equivalent https://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/Hide_Park
50 year old Brit here. I lived in a land called West Germany for several years in the '70s and '80s.
Pfund (pound) was routinely used in markets ie street markets but not generally in supermarkets but it was understood. If you asked for ein pfund pfeffer salami you got 400g or so of peppered salami. Back then Germany was pretty much fully SI and decimalized but just like any other country had some old units still left hanging on.
The reason why you don't typically see it in supermarkets etc. is that law requires SI units and written language often differs from spoken.
In Afghanistan the ser and kharwar are still commonly used for purchasing firewood for cooking stoves and heating stoves in winter.
IDK if it meant "normal" pound or "troy" pound (almost 20% lighter).
From: 10 Wegstunde
Result: Warning: undefined symbol "Wegstunde".
Warning: undefined symbol "Wegstunde".
10 Wegstunde (undefined symbol) -> 1 m (length)
Any source code where the simple declaration "candela := cd" comes with a 171 line comment ranting about the inadequacies of various international standards organisations is a must-read.
"There are considerable complexities attached to other measures. It is not so much that they vary as they may be differently interpreted, according to what you are trying to measure. A foot in length is the same as your modern foot of 12 inches but if you are measuring cloth you use the ell, normally 45 inches--but 27 inches if the cloth is Flemish. Probably the most complicated measures are those involving liquids. A gallon of wine is not the same volume as a gallon of ale. A standard hogshead contains 63 wine-gallons or 52.5 ale-gallons. Except that there is no such thing as a standard hogshead; there is a standard for wine, another for ale, and a third for beer (which is imported). If you are buying beer in London, a hogshead amounts of 54 ale-gallons; if you are buying ale, it amounts to 48."
And so on.
American customary units are a simplified version of the old English measures: the main remnant of different measures for different goods in America is the Winchester bushel for volume of dry goods, and the Queen Anne wine gallon for volume of liquids.
The main difference between US customary measures and non-metric British measures is due to the reform of volume measures in the 1800s, which abolished the various old bushels and gallons, and replaced them all with the imperial gallon. (America does not use imperial units.)
each town had variations
A 4-person tent can hold about 4 teenagers travelling with nothing.
An airline seat is built to the “standard” person, but the average person is overweight/obese in USA.
A “lunch” can vary from 500 to 2500 calories.
A medium coffee = ???. When a Canadian coffee chain expanded to USA, an order for a medium was put into their L cups.
A Tetra Pak of Tropicana has gone from 2L to 1.89L to 1.75L.
Don’t even get me started on clothes.
Surprisingly, the government has done a great job at maintaining standards in the tobacco industry. Nobody is selling packs of cigarettes with 19 slightly-shorter cigarettes.
In Mainland 斤 = 0.5kg = metric pound. Apparently 台斤 is used to disambiguate the catty from the pound.
Like a brace of birds.
What bothers me is that it, of course, depends how you cut/stack it. Different woods = different density.
Firewood should be sold on based on dry weight, not volume.
A lot of American recipes assume scales are for cocaine dealers and inappropriately use volume and dumb measures at that “a teaspoon???” While European recipes appropriately use grams.
However, none of my cups are actually cups. they're just cups.
It amuses me that these are actual (and accurate) sentences.
And different syrups will have different surface tensions, so a 5mL flattish teaspoon will hold more than a 5mL deep-well
Table salt is made of finer crystals and will make your dish far saltier if you substitute them unknowingly. (Fine table salt packs about 2x the salt into 1tsp than Diamond Kosher -- 2 tsp Diamond Kosher == 1 1/2 tsp Morton Kosher == 1 tsp regular table salt.
Even my cookbooks that do give weights as well as volumes for ingredients like flour, tend to just give measuring spoon amounts for the small additions.
To your cord example, precision just isn't a big deal and I'm sure it's just easier for people selling to throw an approximate volume in their truck than weighing everything.
I mean, how would you measure eggs, down to the gram? Oh, I'm off by 5 grams, let me crack another one.
Sugar, you can usually use half of what the recipe calls for without much consequence.
has a bunch of more units, like the various "hunderts" counting units that are not actually 100s.
My father said that the unit adapted from Dutch's metric system.
The pronunciation is the same to standard unit "Ounce" that I got confused when I first learn about units in elementary school.
This exact measurement is used by flower garland sellers in several parts of India. In Karnataka, this measure is called the "mala" and represents the distance from the elbow to the fingertip and is actually used by measuring that way using the sellers own hand.
But your inclusion of long lasting cars is a very good one, tiny differences that seem good enough but aren't can have extreme impact on durability whenever you deal with moving parts. If we had a large number of competing units (like all those pre-metric German foot variations) we'd have a huge number of possible translation pairs of questionable precision and an absurd lack of dimensional conventions (try procuring a ball bearing with a dimension anywhere between full-numbers in mm), leading to lots of "it did fit without noticeable play when I set it up, why is it broken now?" situations. Compared to that, the American duality of imperial and metric is mostly harmless.
Though I "blame" my father ("Schiffbauingenieur" ^= "ship/naval engineer") for my interest in engineering in general, my late grandfather for my interest in electrical engineering and my discovery of "This Old Tony" on YouTube for my recent interest in (manual) machining.
> One hour's travel, used up to the 19th century.
Funny. There is still (colloquially) a thing called a Wegbier which you drink on your way to have another drink. Used in Dresden with friends once ;-)
That said, I do think but it’s worth knowing that one of the reasons metric had a harder time catching on is that the US had already standardized its units a full fifty years before the metric system was developed. So, while our systems aren’t mathematically consistent or elegant as the metric system, by the time metric came about they were at least geographically consistent, so the painful business problem this Wikipedia page illustrates - of not knowing “what is a foot” from town to town - didn’t exist anymore.
One final note, a common misconception I encounter with non-Americans online is that Americans have no idea about metric. That’s not true. Metric is taught in schools and is the exclusive unit system for scientific work. We only have metric for electrical units. Certain other metric units are also common, for example liters, milliliters, grams, and centimeters are all used relatively commonly. Other units are frequently presented side-by-side with metric: mi/km or temperatures in f/c. So most Americans understand and can reason about metric units (perhaps with some discomfort), but unfortunately usage of the “American Customary Unit System” remains predominate.
Lockheed Martin and the Mars Climate Orbiter beg to differ.
Not in astrophysics and cosmology. You almost never hear of meters or grams. We use a hodgepodge of different units depending on what is most convenient and sensible. Working in the solar system? AU. In the galaxy? Light-years or parsecs. And in theoretical work, you often will encounter mass measured in electron-volts, distances measured in solar masses, or temperature measured in square meters, or (more often) everything measured in unitless quantities with no dimensions at all.
It really does feel a lot like the traditional medieval measuring systems, messy but once you learn them, useful and comfortable in the mind.
1.) The 0-32-96 °F range covers much better the range typically experienced by humans than 0-100 °C.
2.) It's more dozenal than decimal allowing for easier mathematics (even when stuck in a decimal number representation system like we are).
3.) For "non-human" fields, you are probably better off anyway using a scale starting at the absolute zero. (The triple point of water seems like a good candidate for 100 degrees ? Or maybe a value directly related to log 2, e, kB ?)
And on the other hand, for body temperatures, tenths of °C as a level of resolution is just right, whereas integer °F would be too coarse.
In those cases, Kelvin is customarily used with the same degree size as Celsius with 0 Celsius corresponding to 273.15 K. (There is a corresponding scale for Fahrenheit degrees but it's rarely used.)
To be honest, humans are likely able to adapt to scale when talking about the weather, or how hot the room is.
The reasons the US should move to metric are:
- The rest of the world is on metric
- It's better for science and engineering
I'm not suggested moving is easy, just that I for one would like it to be attempted.
This most stark in Celsius, where the useful range of temperatures where humans can live is compressed into roughly -20 C to 40 C, versus 0 to 100 in Fahrenheit.
Its funny how it is so important to have a wider range of temperatures whereas I most often hear Americans use ranges.
And instead of saying "today temps will go up into the 70s" you just give the actual number, "it will go up to 23C", what is the problem with that? You could also say because a celsius degree is greater, the number matters much more and it is often not necessary to give a range like that.
Ranges or not, it does not matter. A celsius is certainly small enough that decimals are not necessary for humans day-to-day.
What I also often hear from Americans is that the inch is such a perfect unit and "2.5cm" is so awkward but then I hear "6/8 of an inch" and similar units or the mixing of feet and inch and I just don't get it.
This isn't a feature of either system, it's straight-forward familiarity. I'm sure if the weather man used Kelvin, it wouldn't take me long to figure out how to dress for it.
It's like saying Cyrillic is better than Latin script. Or driving on the left is better than on the right. In reality, it just doesn't matter. Whichever you grow up with will seem like the easier one.
When I think -5C, I know how the temperature will actually feel. Someone who thinks "25F" will feel the same in their head. Same for 25cm, 5 inches, 10kg, 40lbs, 9 stones, 7 shaku, etc. Whatever you grew up with will feel better.
Metric just seems to have won in most of the world, including in countries like the US and Japan which use it in science/industry. It just makes sense to have one standard for communicating with as many other people as possible.
Out of all the examples that you gave, this is the one that doesn't fit your argument. Cyrillic has a wider range of letters which makes it a better fit for certain languages with a specific phonology. I don't remember which language it was, but I remember reading about one of the countries between Russia, Turkey, Iran, etc. switched from their indigenous writing system to Latin script in the 1930s/1940s to enable usage of standard typewriters etc. And just a few years later, they switched again, to Cyrillic script, after finding that Latin script does not fit their language all that well.
You use a subjective opinion on one unit's range as a proxy for all other units. How is the meter (cm, mm, km, etc) trash compared to the foot (inch, yard, mile, etc)? They're objectively better in every regard, not just for scientific purposes but in everyday life.
Come to think of it, it's the first time I'm seeing someone making that sort of statement rather than the usual "it's too difficult to change now" excuse.
1/110 mile = 16 yards = 48 feet. Now you do this for an one-hundred-and-tenth of a kilometer.
1/3 pound = 1/2 mark = 6 shillings & eightpence = 80 pence. Now you do this for a euro. 1/3 of a euro = , ummm?
The point is, the traditional measures are built out of very highly divisible numbers, which is very useful in certain applications, for example surveying, bartering, baking, etc. Just like the metric measures are built out of powers of ten, which is very useful in certain other applications, like seamlessly moving between scales of magnitude in scientific work.
So freaking what. Use decimals and you can easily convert anything into everything. And you don’t have to rely on those few cases where you can exactly divide.
6.8m = 680cm = 0.0068km, etc.
Who writes out prices in fractions?
Its even worse with baking. Scaling up units from recipes is really hard if you have fractions of different units like tee spoon, table spoon and cup and when ounces can both mean a volume and a weight. (“fl. is not always specified”) No thank you.
Also your examples are really poor, when the base systems keep changing in the same dimensions (e.g. length) there is not benefit at all, just confusion or reluctance to convert to other units because it would be too awkward.
Being able to divide by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 is not a "few cases", it's the chief part of the small integers into which stuff often needs to be divided evenly.
If you ever went to the market before decimalisation, you would meet many who write prices in fractions. Something would be priced at X pounds/crowns/marks per Y items/weights. Then, the cost of Z units/weights is XZ/Y. When the coins are highly divisible multiples of each other, you have a lot of choices to be able to pay the exact amount and don't have to bother with getting change back. Even better if we price by the dozens (Y = 12) instead of 10s: 12 has twice as many factors than 10.
I understand that this all requires a certain numeracy however. Thankfully nowadays we can just buy things using their credit cards on Amazon: makes mindless consumption much easier.
Anyway, metric just makes sense for most things. The attachment is cultural. My parents talked about my height and weight in the old units. I still use them and so do government forms.
But there's nothing "good" about the old stuff. It's just what you are used to.
On the other hand, freezing and boiling water makes sense, because you know that you have to drive carefully when the temperature is below 0 C.
The absolute scale of Celsius (as opposed to the size of the degree) isn't the most useful anyway because you tend to use Kelvin for a lot of purposes.
The history of the Fahrenheit scale is actually quite fascinating. It's one of the less famous things to come out of the Dutch eighteenth century scientific community. Daniel Fahrenheit picked a few reference points to calibrate thermometers. None of these have anything to do with your level of comfort. That was never a thing or an intention.
Zero was the temperature of a particular mixture of ammonium chloride and water and ice (a brine basically) reaching an equilibrium. The second point (30) was picked as the temperature of water with ice floating in it. The main point was to make this somewhat of a repeatable process. Basically water with ice in it has a very stable temperature because the transition from ice to water takes a lot of energy. Tossing in some ammonium chloride in a known quantity gives you a second point of reference that is different enough that it is meaningful.
Daniel Fahrenheit was using those two points to calibrate mercury based thermometers. He came up with a third reference point: the temperature you get when you insert a thermometer into your mouth. This was originally supposed to be 90 degrees. Later it was determined to be 96 and we now know it is 98.2 degrees. In other words, he kind of messed up there by picking something a bit harder to measure.
The final reference point that Daniel Fahrenheit worked with was the boiling point of mercury. Which he put at 300 degrees. The scale was redefined several times according to progressive insights regarding e.g. the notion that there are about 180 degrees Fahrenheit difference between freezing and boiling water.
The latter is of course an attempt to reconcile the scale with the centigrade scale which is based on the freezing and boiling temperatures of water. That's technically also somewhat imprecise of course but quite easy to figure out. Basically take water, put ice in it, wait a bit. That's your zero point. Then put it on a fire, wait for it to boil. That's 100. Put two little markings on your glass tube with mercury where that happens and then divide that into tens and again into tens. That's a repeatable process for making a thermometer. Not super precise of course because it depends on air pressure (later of course factored into its definition). But if you are making thermometers, that's pretty easy to do if you are an eighteenth century instrument maker. You need ice of course but that would have been a commodity much of the year where Celsius was living (Stockholm).
For better or worse, the metric system actually uses Kelvin which simply is the Celsius scaling (or centigrade as it was called originally) but adjusted to absolute zero −273.15°. That last adjustment by .15 degrees happened only fairly recently actually. Fahrenheit only continues to exist as a derived scale from that. None of its original reference points are precise enough to matter these days. That's true for most remaining imperial measurements: they are defined very precisely in metric units. You can measure feet with your feet of course. But only if you don't care about precision. Any self respecting engineer uses more carefully calibrated instruments.
(American units date from before the British volume measure reform that created imperial units.)