Skip to comments.Why we won’t kill the Imperial System
Posted on 11/05/2012 2:14:59 PM PST by null and void
Back in grade school, we were told that the Imperial System was a thing of the past, that eventually wed be living the Metric System life, with all its base-10 logic built right in. Wed be just like the rest of the world. But those predictions have proven about as accurate as the flying cars and moon colonies that we all imagined wed be enjoying in the year 2012.
Occasionally, the issue bubbles up and people argue back and forth about why we havent gone Metric, but I think its all about inertia. There would be a huge intellectual cost in moving to a new systemtraining ourselves to think of temperatures in Celsius when were leaving home and trying to decide on whether to grab a jacket. Straining to remember what kilometers per liter really comes down to, when were used to a lifetime of miles per gallon. Attempting to determine whether youre losing enough weight, as you stare at the scale showing a strange number of kilograms.
While there are economic costsheck, just think of the signage issues on our roadsthey should be lower today than they would have been a generation ago. Many consumer products in this digital age already allow us to toggle between Imperial and Metric units. And the prevalence of smartphones means that no one has an excuse not to have a conversion app (or at least a calculator) on them at virtually all times.
What this issue comes down to is, as I said, inertia. Its laziness. No one wants to be the generation that has to juggle two systems in their heads all the time. If we switched today, my kids would grow up pretty much thinking in Metric and would have no problem. But I feel like Id forever be doing that calculation in my head. Even if I knew 28° C was a nice warm summer day, I think Id always be converting it back to 82° F just to make sure I knew exactly how warm it was, based on my past experiences. We dont want to be the ones straddling the two worlds, dealing with parts in both sizes or wondering how to deal with machinery that still had Imperial components that were no longer allowed to be manufactured.
Besides, who has the guts to push an idea like this forward in the country today? If Republicans championed the cause, Democrats would rail against it. And vice versa. And unfortunately, engineers, scientists and the like dont have the kind of lobby that would be needed to get politicians interested. Even a public relations disaster like losing the Mars Climate Orbiter (due to a conversion mishap) didnt move the needle on fully switching to Metric. So I guess Ill just wait with you for that long-off day when we get the first flying carand wonder what kind of miles per gallon that thing will get.
I find your lack of faith...disturbing...
I think the Canadians have been on the metric system for decades. A couple months ago we visited up there, everyone we talked to talked in miles, feet, pounds.
I don’t think the metric system took very well up there.
Volume? Area? Distance? Density? Temperature? Speed? ; I'm good with the current system.
Americans do not use the Imperial System, they use the US Customary Unit System. The Imperial System did not come into being until 1824 and the Americans, for obvious reasons, did not adopt it...
The wife recently converted to the metric system .. her concealed went from a .380 to a 9mm.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And kilometers to go before I sleep, And kilometers to go before I sleep.
I kind of like our system -— it sets us apart, makes us unique. Of course, it also means that american vehicles, machinery, etc is a less competitive export because foreign buyers also need to purchase american tools to service them.
No, it went to a 9mm “Kurz” as opposed to a 9mm Luger or Parabellum. Big difference.
All the cool countries use metric so we should too. I grew up in the metric push in the 1970s, but most of that for every day measurements has disappeared except through conversion. But because of work some very small measurements are natural for me in metric and the equivalent imperial measurements are the ones I have to convert to use. I think in miles, feet, inches, millimeters, microns and nanometers.
Interestingly, one of the few enumerated powers the federal government that have been explicitly enumerated in Article I, Section 8 is "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;" The government could state that all legal measurements are in metric and outlaw gallons, pounds, feet and acres as legal measurements in commerce.
A lot of the “less painful” conversions to metric have already taken (and/or are taking) place—specifically things such as parts, metric sized bolts, screws, liter bottles of soft drinks, etc. Those types of transitions will continue almost “under the radar”. The more “painful” transitions such as driving distance might not take place in our lifetimes.
If I were paying $3.50 per Imp. Gal. for gasoline, I wouldn’t feel as bad as I do...
I think the Ford Pinto was designed using the metric system, at least the engine was.
The United States has been officially under the metric system since 1893. All our fundamental units are defined by metric system units.
It hasn’t ‘taken’ very well here either...
Most American Companies worth a damn are metric capable. The have systems that convert back and forth at will.
Americans plagued with unions are the ones at risk of being noncompetative because the unions won’t change.
I personally use only the metric system in my daily work. It is better, it is easier.
The metric system is already used extensively in the American engineering profession — in fact, more so than the Imperial system.
It took off fine up here. Canadians are equally comfortable using both systems. We’ve had it for abou thirty years.
It’s not laziness so much as understanding there’s no gain for all that work. Metric might be better for scientists, but for normal people both systems are equal, whatever you know is good enough. If you grew up in imperial you know 100 degrees is hot, if you grew up in metric you know 37 is hot, there’s nothing to be gained in retraining.
Add Mocrons and Ångstroms and I'm right there with you...
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