Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Metric System

The Good, Bad and the Ugly

France (1786)

(France wants to be the center of the universe, as usual)

When the French Revolution came around, a bunch of French intellectuals (oxymoron) were sitting around “DOING” measurements. These intellectual types aren’t sitting in labs or making things, they’re just drinking wine and looking at measurements.

At the time it was decided that the metre (French spelling) should be one Ten Millionth the measure of the distance from the equator to the North Pole along the Paris meridian. Baa! Baa! Baa!

In order to reinforce their theory on where the center of the universe is located, they made a metal pole called the “Official Meter Rod” (The pole was made with platinum-iridium alloy with two hairline markings indicating the length of the official meter, when the pole is at 0 deg. Celsius) (A lot of wine went into the creation of this pole)

About the time the French adopted the Metric System, sentiment in the US was pro-French and anti Great Britain. (That’s that whole King/Religion/Church of England thing)

It was about this time that Noah Webster wrote his Dictionary which changed American spellings away from British standards (“Colour” became “color”, “Theatre” became “Theater”, etc…) (just a little filler)

The US had the opportunity to adopt the Metric system in the early 1800’s, but failed to do so. (God Bless our Founding Fathers)

The official use of the Metric measures alongside traditional English measures was actually authorized by Congress in 1866, and the US was an original signatory party to the 1875 “Treaty of the Meter”
(Go figure…and WAKE UP!!! If I had to write this you need to stay awake to read it)

In 1959, the US set its own standards based on the Metric system. A yard is officially 0.9144 meters exactly, and an inch is 2.54 centimeters exactly (It’s the American way of life to be different). Congress also passed a law in 1975 to work toward making the metric system the standard system in America. This was amended in 1988 when it was decided that the Government itself must be metric before it can start asking the private sector (us) to follow suit.

Ok, if you are still with me (and I can’t see why) we come to what I like to call the:

THE METRIC KILLER” (The Decimal Inch)(Snore….)

Manufacturing and some engineering disciplines have abandoned traditional measures as well, but not in favor of metrics. (yeah!)

The better system is called the “Decimal Inch” (If you aren’t already confused!!)

It has been discovered that the smallest distance of separation visible to the unaided eye is 0.01 inches, or 0.26mm (Must be the girls, because the guys see 6 inches as a whole different measuring system)

What this means is that being accurate to within a hundredth of an inch is better than being within a millimeter. Four times better as a matter of fact (mmmmmmmm!!!! More beer on this one)

The only way metrics can be better is if rulers used half and quarter millimeters, but adding fractions defeats the whole purpose of decimal measurements. So now manufacturing and engineering have embraced the decimal inch, a standard inch divided into tenths and hundredths. This has set off a chain reaction, if manufacturing does not have to convert to metrics, why should we?

(Hey Frenchy Frenchman…)

Some reasons to convert to Metrics:

Gas will seem cheaper at .50 a liter.

Being 22 kilos overweight does not sound as bad as 50lbs.

Arizona summers will not seem as hot when it’s only 40c outside.

Imagine all the exciting math you will do converting your favorite recipes to milliliters.

Less fractions to deal with like, “Do I need a five eights socket or nine sixteenths to loosen this nut?

Half a liter is more then a pint, which means “MORE BEER FOR EVERYONE

People will finally understand about driving “Attoparsecs per Nanocenturies”. (mmmmmmm!!!!...Need more beer on this on)

And lastly it was the French that invented the Metric System and all of this confusion. So the next time you need 1/5 of a liter know that the French made this wonderful system, and if you see a French guy walking around with a very cold rod in his pocket …Slap Him!!!