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Metric Vs. English in America
 

Metric Vs. English in America
by Dam_Man on 12/01/04 at 15:11:22

I think this website makes a good case for why the whole idea of converting to the metric system is a farce.  Although I am all for consistency, it seems to me there are some units that are more conveniently reported in one system over another.  Maybe I am just an old dog, not wanting to learn anything new.  

I must be a nerdy old dog, because I enjoyed reading some of the threads on this unique forum. ( I is an engineer.)

Thanks to the adminstrator for his diligence.


Re: Metric Vs. English in America
by Robert Fogt on 12/01/04 at 15:46:34

It is not that one system is better than the other, it is just a matter of all countries using the same.

If all countries measured in hands and weighed in stones, there would be no problems. Neither within each country, nor between each country.

The problems arise when a US citizen wants to buy rope from Japan in inches, or when a Australlian doctor wants insulin in mg/dL.

But as time has shown us, any country could use any measurement system and easily function within itself.


Re: Metric Vs. English in America
by Dam_Man on 12/01/04 at 16:49:21

Great reply, thank you very much.  So my follow up question (the answer which seems obvious) is this:  As a matter of courtesy and respect, when one person is trying to do business in another country, shouldn't that person adopt the units of the country in which such business is being conducted?  

It seems to me that the burden of conversion should be on the guest.  Is this an issue of pride?  There is certainly a lot of opportunity for misunderstanding.  Who has the liability? ???


Re: Metric Vs. English in America
by Robert Fogt on 12/02/04 at 10:40:37

I bet there are hundreds of different circumstances.

If I were buying a Japanese made car, I would expect them to have a speedometer that displays in my local units, miles per hour.

But if I were selling an American car to a Japanese citizen, it would be expected that I would provide them with a speedometer that displays in their local unit.

Neither of those cases puts the conversion on the guest, but on the person delivering to the guest.

If I were a doctor and wanted information on a Japanese medical study, then it would be expected that I would receive it in their units. It this case the burden would be on the guest.


Re: Metric Vs. English in America
by Albert on 12/02/04 at 13:47:17

[quote author=Dam_Man link=board=general;num=1101942684;start=0#0 date=12/01/04 at 15:11:22]I think this website makes a good case for why the whole idea of converting to the metric system is a farce.  Although I am all for consistency, it seems to me there are some units that are more conveniently reported in one system over another.  Maybe I am just an old dog, not wanting to learn anything new.  

I must be a nerdy old dog, because I enjoyed reading some of the threads on this unique forum. ( I is an engineer.)

Thanks to the adminstrator for his diligence.[/quote]

Ha ha ha ha

No arguments, no objective view, just American conservatism.

Relic from ancient times.

Engineer

:P


Re: Metric Vs. English in America
by Dam_Man on 12/02/04 at 18:28:41

I am glad that Mr. Fogt is not the only one carrying the load on this forum, although he obviously carries the Lion's share.

The conservative American label does not offend me, but the implication of being a relic from ancient times... How long ago is ancient?  

As for objectivity, how does conversion from one unit system to another improve the quality of the end product?  The quality of the product is acheived by consistency and attention to detail.  

Say a manufacturer of gizwidgets in America is accepting bids to purchase component parts from whomever meets specifications, which are in English units.  Say Albert has a company in Quebec and wants to sell components to the manufacturer, and has access to three different parts that the manufacturer needs to assemble the gizwidgets, but one part is metric, one is English and one is Chinese.  Any bids from Albert would be rejected, and for obvious reasons. :-*


Re: Metric Vs. English in America
by Albert on 12/03/04 at 10:40:55

Your reply and argument just shows that you don't understand th essence of units and conversion between them.

The quality of a part is not dependent on the units used for its measurements, but on the accuracy it is produced with and the tollerances of the dimensions.
Both are not dependent on units used.

The metric system is much more convenient since units are scientificly interconnected and are easier to calculate with.

I don't understand why people like to stick to a system based on the dimensions of bodyparts.


Re: Metric Vs. English in America
by Robert Fogt on 12/03/04 at 10:51:20

Switching now would not be easy as you might imagine. It will take time, a long time.

All of our measurements are based on the foot. Everything from the height of our buildings to the dimensions of our city blocks. Think of all the houses built on standards of a certain number of inches between the supports, these houses even built with lumber measured in inches.

Switching from feet to meters will not be overnight. It will take a couple generations. I think we will eventually switch over, as students are being taught the metric system in schools. Plus the U.S. is such a diverse country with most immigrants coming from countries that do use the metric system. Eventually we will be metric, it will just take time.


Re: Metric Vs. English in America
by Dam_Man on 12/06/04 at 14:05:17

I geuss the "essence" of units is best embodied by hands and horses.   What is the story about the space shuttle based on the width of a horse's ass?  I am pretty sure that a Ford pickup is the same width as a standard railroad track.  Not sure how many hands wide that is converts to, but it smells like some good barnyard talk to me.

Seriously, I think all three of us in this dialogue have valid points.  Albert is right regarding accuracy and tolerance contributing more to quality than the units, but consistency and attention to detail help avoid costly mistakes.  I used manufacturing as an example to be objective, but in my business, the tolerance may be a tenth of a foot, or an order of magnitude.  Accuracy is always a challenge when dealing with earth sciences such as geotechnical or hydrologic engineering.  And with respect to the big change, I suspect it all boils down to economics, since laws, codes, and standards across the nation, as well as infrastructure from dams to buildings to machines are written, designed and built in English units.  There may be some significant incursion by the metric system (I have had two sets of wrenches for decades), but a wholesale conversion does not seem likely before this old relic becomes an actual fossil.  Until then, I am sticking to the ways of the ancients. :)


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