April 7 - Metric System Day

Posted on April 7, 2018

The metric system is way, way easier than the system of U.S. Customary Units. Everything is based on ten and share the same prefixes, so people do not have challenges of trying to remember if it is two cups to a pint and four cups to a quart, or four cups to a pint and two pints to a quart, or what?! 

Or how about 12 inches to a foot, 3 feet to a yard, 1,760 yards to a mile / 5,280 feet to a mile...?! That's just not as easy to remember as 100 centimeters to a meter and 1,000 meters to a kilometer - especially when "centi-" means 1/100 throughout all metric measurement systems, and "kilo-" means 1,000.

It's not just easier to remember, it's easier to add and multiply and convert when you're dealing with 10 and powers of 10. Quick, what's 1,000 times 7? Just as quick, what's 5,280 times 7?

Because the metric system is so much easier, it is used as the measuring system all over the world.

Except in Liberia, Burma / Myanmar, and the U.S., that is!

Of course, scientists and many people who work in international business in those three countries DO use the metric system - they have to in order to fit in and communicate with everyone else!

So why is the United States still one of the lone hold-outs on this important, massively used, and simply better measuring system?

A lot of Americans seem to be resistant to changing to the metric
system for some pretty silly reasons. Either they feel defensive and
insecure if the U.S. joins in with the rest of the world...

...or they insist on some sort of magical specialness that the U.S.
supposedly has and needs to hold on...


This meme is wrong-headed but pretty much correct that,
when the U.S. put astronauts on the moon, NASA was using
a lot of customary units.

However, NASA scientists and engineers
have always used a mix of metric and U.S. customary units,
although the organization IS going more and more to
just the metric system. And having to make those conversions
can and probably has led to some mistakes.

Another question: could it be that many students avoid science partly because it seems "hard" because it uses a less-familiar measuring system? If we truly took the plunge and used the metric system for weather reports and mileage signs (kilometer-age signs?), for sewing and cooking and size charts - would we have more young people going into science fields?

It's not as if people can't change long-standing habits. If we never changed measuring systems, I guess we'd still be using cubits and furlongs, thumbs and palms, hogsheads and butts...

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