[LMB] OT: measurements was pizza dough
martinsgill at gmail.com
Tue May 29 19:04:43 BST 2007
> Peter H. Granzeau wrote:
> Switching from one system to another is *hard* (says she who, after 7
> years in the USA, still doesn't have a feel for Fahrenheit, and can't
> spell the word either). France changed its currency in the late 50s,
> where one "old" franc became one hundredth of the "new" franc. In 2000,
> as France was gearing to switch to the Euro, most people over the age of
> 50 still counted using the old system (especially amounts over 1000).
Despite how comfortable you might or might not be with a specific set
of units, the simple truth is that the imperial system puts anyone
that uses if at a disadvantage internationally. Didn't someone lose a
space probe recently because they failed to convert metric/imperial
Of course, that won't bother you if you never leave home, but if
you've not grown up with the metric system and are comfortable with
it, how will you know if you are being conned the first time you need
to use it?
Of the industrialised nations only the US still uses imperial. Much as
many in the UK like to think we are still imperial it's simply not
true. All schooling is done in metric (only PE measures our weight in
stone, and I think that was more a feature of the scales being 100
years old than deliberate policy). Everything is measured, sized,
designed and built in metric. The only time I have to resort to metric
is when I drive or order a pint. Only in "common usage" are imperial
measures still used and on road signs (although that's strange as
well, I've often enough come across a road sign that says 10m to some
turning sitting next to a 30mph speed limit sign).
While we still serve drinks in pubs in pints, most people wouldn't
notice if the pint suddenly became a half litre over night. Given the
stupid pint glass design, I've usually spilt that extra 25ml before I
reach my table. Measures for shots (whiskey and the like) are already
metric, 10ml and 25ml. No one seems to mind, they still order a single
or a double regardless. I fully expect that by the time I drop dead
people will be ordering a "pint" and getting a half litre. It works in
other countries; my German grand-mother still orders meat over the
counter by the pound (pfund) which has legally been defined at 500g.
In a world of 6.4 milliard people (6.4 giga-people?) , the 0.3
milliard that aren't metric aren't really numerically significant.
We can't even agree on what constitutes a billion. giga-people despite
sounding a bit pretentious, is much more reliable. US billion is 1000
million (or a milliard), the UK is mostly confused over it, officially
a billion in the UK is still a million million, although slowly
falling in line with the US, as a result of US TV shows. In most
european countries a billion is still a million million.
"Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum."
- Titus Lucretius Carus (Roman Poet), De Rerum Natura
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