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Should the USA go metric?


Do you think the USA should go metric?  

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  1. 1. Do you think the USA should go metric?



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It would be way easier for everyone if a meter was exactly one yard, but that isn't the case.

Liters aren't SI units, actually. The official SI unit for volume is the cubic meter.

Yeah but 1m^3 = 1000L or 1dm^3 = 1L. The conversion is easy.

I just don't understand Fahrenheit. A scale derived from temperatures of brine and human body? I'm not sure even americans would be able to define 0°F.

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It would be way easier for everyone if a meter was exactly one yard, but that isn't the case.

Liters aren't SI units, actually. The official SI unit for volume is the cubic meter.

At the risk of being accused of being pedantic, it is LITRE and METRE. The american spelling is liter and meter but, as we've been discussing, they don't officially use the metric system anyway.

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Back in my day in school, you were taught both, and how to convert. Conversions were done by hand/formula, as we didn't have calculators or computers. Today, I'm not sure what they teach... maybe social liberalism and revisionist history - or so it seems.

They still teach both systems and how to convert. They are also teaching us what scientists are the most biased based on where they are from and what organization/govt agency they work for. (I'm not joking.)

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At the risk of being accused of being pedantic, it is LITRE and METRE. The american spelling is liter and meter but, as we've been discussing, they don't officially use the metric system anyway.

It doesn't matter as long as everyone understands what it is.

Plus, Meter and Liter make more sense. How does "re" not make the "reh" sound? Litre should be pronounced "leetreh".

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USA should be go metric, but I'd like to see the stuff like Pound Feet of Torque and Horsepower stay the same, as although I'm Australian, I'm accustomed to reading and gauging the power of a vehicle from those system :P

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Back in my day in school, you were taught both, and how to convert. Conversions were done by hand/formula, as we didn't have calculators or computers. Today, I'm not sure what they teach... maybe social liberalism and revisionist history - or so it seems.

Google will do the conversion for you on your handheld, while you are texting your girlfriend updating your facebook page, swiping your tinder, and playing your spotify.

You got to get with it man, multitask allows you to do everything, just not anything very well.

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So did I, and I found this:

http://hugelolcdn.com/i700/236389.jpg

Now I'm confused.

It was built at the skunkworks, their ....... different.

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Thankfully for science, you're right :)

Back on topic: As an "outsider" (Norwegian) looking in, it shouldn't matter which one you use, metric or imperial, in your daily life. In science and technology however, it can become a liability too easy. NASA lost one of their Mars probes because one team used imperial, another team used metric. Several million dollars loss.

I'm wondering: Is converting something they teach early on in schools in the US or is it something most will encounter in higher level edu (post high school) and how would "most" pupils/students rate the difficulty, in lack of a better word, of converting back and forth without sweating it?

This is what is confusing, almost all lab products are in metric, all equipment is measured in metric system. How was it possible to build a satellite in the US an not be metric? Non-americans might think that americans routinely use imperial, but in hospitals and research departments the standard measurements are pretty much all metric. Even lab coats are measured in metric not english units.

Someone should look at the contract of the company that used the imperial units, they may have been making tractor parts.

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Every US engineer and scientist I ever talked to uses metric system at work. In common life even over here in Canada some things are still customarily measured in imperial units - for example in any bar you would order x pounds of chicken wings, a pitcher of beer, and so on. In the store you will be understood if you order either way (1 kg or 2 lbs of beef), and in most major stores there is a conversion table hanging usually at the meats department.

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Actually, the USA has already mandated the use of the Metric system, but does not enforce it. Therefore companies stick with the imperial system because their machines still print the imperial system and it would be expensive to make the change.

Money drives everything :P

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Therefore companies stick with the imperial system because their machines still print the imperial system and it would be expensive to make the change. Money drives everything :P

And this next biggest thing is we Americans generally resist change, "a foot is 12 inches, and how many inches in one of them Meteres?", "A mile has always been good enough", "Why should we do what those European's are doing?", "Are you a commie?" :sticktongue:

The funny thing is the metric system has already slipped in to a lot of our lives and people just don't know it. Go buy a quarter inch thick sheet of plywood and see if you don't end up with a 5mm sheet and then you wonder why it fits so sloppy in a 1/4" groove?

As a hobbyist woodworker, sometimes it is easier to work with metric measurements, it's easy to mark things to the mm, try reading a woodworking ruler down to the 1/64th (most are marked to the 1/16th). Not to mention math is much easier in metrics decimal system than in fractional inches. It's natural to understand and intuitive as opposed to reducing a fraction to the lowest denominator.

Most of the mechanical designers and engineers I know, used decimal inches for any design and manufacturing, and many have switched to metric to be compatible with foreign manufacturing.

Legally we are a metric country, we just don't know it. Start teaching metric in schools and we will be metric in a generation or two.

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Any system that uses "stick" as a unit of measure for butter is insane.

As someone that bakes and cooks for recreation (there is a difference between cooking and baking :wink:), if you tell me a stick of butter, I KNOW that it's roughly 1/2 of a cup or 8 tablespoons. It is just something you learn and it sticks with you. While a lot of newer cookbooks actually do use the 1/2 cup designation, it will always be a stick of butter for those who have learned to cook from the older generation. It's not insane by a long shot. Neither are recipes that call for a dash, nip, or pinch as those are also cooking measurements. :D

I grew up literally all over the world. My father was career military and so I went to school in Hawaii (which had a Japanese flavor), American schools in Texas and North Carolina, and in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany before the nation reunited with East Germany). Within the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS), I was taught the Metric system along with the Imperial English system. While I never really mastered the weights too easily, I know that a half-inch is basically 1 cm. A meter is roughly 36 inches... Once you master the basics, you can use either one fairly interchangeably...

Edited by adsii1970
Forgot to add something...
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if you tell me a stick of butter, I KNOW that it's roughly 1/2 of a cup or 8 tablespoons. It's not insane by a long shot.

Nope, a cup of butter is also insane. Perhaps it's just that Britain is a cold country, but "square block" and "round hole" come to mind.

I can just about cope with the idea of using cups to measure flour and sugar - if I can't find a "better" recipe (tell me, how tight is tightly packed?), but I prefer to weigh liquids.

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Converting is easy. A foot is 30cm and change. A yard is a metre and less change than anybody cares about. 5 miles is 8 kilometres. Seriously, eight kilometres and four metres - sorry, four yards. If that isn't exact enough for you, what were you doing using imperial units in the first place?

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A thought occurred to me on the drive in to work this morning is that perhaps the biggest impediment to the U.S. using the metric system is converting the existing infrastructure based on the imperial system to the metric. How many homes, apartments, businesses and factories in the U.S. use liters as the unit of measurement for water usage? How many utility meters would have to be replaced? How many tax records show the size of a house in square meters, land in square kilometers? How many people are going to protest when all of a sudden their tax bill starts showing what used to be their 1800 ft2 house as 167.225 m2? How many signs on the highways are going to require replacement? Most of the major highways have a marker every mile, how many markers need to be replaced. What is the cost to do all this infrastructure conversion?

If France suddenly decided to go to the Imperial system how difficult and costly would that be? Texas is roughly the size of France, yet makes up less than 10% of the total land mass of the United States. So I believe the biggest problem to the US fully converting is a matter of scale and economics.

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For this poll, I wonder how many of the votes were american or other nationalities?

Also... what about the concept of people making up measurements that are convenient for them? For instance, although it is archaic and not many people plough fields with oxes any more: "An acre was defined in the Middle Ages, being the amount of land that could be ploughed in one day with a yoke of oxen."

So what if I'm part of a community of farmers, and we like to use bushels as a unit of measurement, since that's the size of the basket we use to hold, say, apples in? Whoa whoa whoa, hold on now - I'm not a bushel expert. Just try to see the point I'm getting at though - what are your opinions about measurements that are made for convenience?

Edited by MunGazer
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Anyone see the latest [posted] Scott Manley video? It shows Stuart Manley (Scott's brother) and his job cutting thin pieces of metal with a laser. The OnTopic part of this is that Stuart routinely refers to all measurements in "thous" (presumably what are typically called "mills" in the US, meaning one-thousandth of an inch. Presumably "mils" is confused for something else in Scotland). I would assume that pretty much any customer building PCBs in the US (or most other US customers for that matter) will be sending gerber plots measured in mils. Quite possibly all his software controls is based in mils as well.

Personally, I am glad that mils are typically the only imperial measurement an electrical engineer is expected to work with (and they rarely need to interact with metric electrical measurements). I'd hate to have to deal with 18 3/4 Edisons to the Franklin every day. I will point out that I had less issues converting everything to metric than most of my classmates in US engineering school, thanks to a high school chemistry teacher who mainly concentrated on the factor label method (google hits it right away). Considering that other 10th grade chemistry topics were (I assume still are) the octect rule and the ideal gas equation (both nearly worthless* in real life), this seems like a great idea.

* worthless in "will not give sufficiently accurate results" (although I think NASA can use the ideal gas equation to model ISS drag. Get the atoms far enough apart and they act "ideal"), not "who needs science anyway".

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Not to mention math is much easier in metrics decimal system than in fractional inches. It's natural to understand and intuitive as opposed to reducing a fraction to the lowest denominator.

That's not true, you are just used to it. Metric is base 10, fractional inches are base 2 (just stop writing it as 1/64th of an inch, instead use 0.00001 inch, where the "decimal" is in base 2). Base 2 is actually more fundamental than the arbitrary number 10 as seen in computer science or by 2 being the smallest number for which using it as a base makes sense; but even computer science students often cannot calculate well in base 2 because they never got used to it.

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If France suddenly decided to go to the Imperial system how difficult and costly would that be? Texas is roughly the size of France, yet makes up less than 10% of the total land mass of the United States. So I believe the biggest problem to the US fully converting is a matter of scale and economics.

That 10% of area has more than 20% its population. All the empty space between cities does not require much signs (maybe one every 10 kilometers of road; yes, kilometers, not miles :sticktongue: ).

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I'd like to propose a 3rd option. Who cares?

I find it humorous that people in countries other than the USA feel so strongly about how things are measured in a different country.

I've traveled throughout the world for 15 years and have had, literally, zero trouble converting between the various systems in the different places I go. Its not just units of measure either. Every place has a different culture and how they communicate measurement is just as different. Even in places where they use, apparently the most wonderful thing to ever happen to humans, metric. People still uses colloquial terms to describe various measurements.

As was mentioned all measurements are arbitrary. Celsius is based on the boiling point of water. What a lame colorless, flavorless compound to base temperature off of. I think it would be much cooler to base the temp off the various states of mercury. Much greater granularity. No confusion either, if mercury boils I'm staying in where it is air conditioned.

All that matters is that everyone in collaboration understand the units. It doesn't matter if it is based on the thickness of a pube or the freezing point of water.

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Google will do the conversion for you on your handheld, while you are texting your girlfriend updating your facebook page, swiping your tinder, and playing your spotify.

You got to get with it man, multitask allows you to do everything, just not anything very well.

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lol ... I'll admit I do text, but I don't use Facebook (dumped it) nor Spotify nor etc. No Thank You. I'll stick with email and Skype. I'm a very 'social' creature - it's called getting off your arse and getting out of the house and living life.

A long, long time ago, inside of an IBM headquarters & development shop, hung a sign which read: "Manual Is Better"

I meet young people nearly every day who can't manage the simplest of tasks; Spelling, punctuation, (proper pronunciations), basic math, calculating the tip for a bill, writing a check or reconciling a ledger of their own finances*, the list goes on ... but they do know how to push a button or swipe their phone/screen and take selfies. It's the same crew that think they should be paid an executive's salary for flipping burgers.

* Yes, I know checks are outdated, everyone uses plastic. But not everyone using that plastic is conscious of their spending (fiscally responsible) and think that in-indebtedness is an ok way to live life.

/rant off

Back on topic. Our money utilizes a metric / base-10 system. Does that count for anything?

Yea, Metric is ok.

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Randazzo already won this thread I believe lol. I'd rep that post if I currently knew how to =|

That being said I initially said yes, because metric system is most commonly used globally and relatively simple.

However, as earlier stated, the attempted change over would be an enormous and costly mess that would draw so much negative press, ruin any politicians career even before it began and even if completed it would take a generation or longer to settle in.

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This is literally eight pages of debate? Talk about going in circles... Converting over to metric is a no-brainer.

OP - should we stop? I was just wanting to conversate for the fun of it despite the poll results but if all the additional converstation is considered "stupid" then I'll refrain.

LordFerret - about the money, imo yeah. And cool tunes btw. Sawyer, someone won the thread? lol. I didn't know there was a competition going on.

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