Science by Adam on 2009-02-10 03:33

A map of countries that don’t use the metric system:

People give me funny looks when I state distances in kilometers or the temperature in centigrade, but dammit, they’re better.

5 comments per 'Metric'

  1. Dave says:

    Define “better” please?

    I think if one is used to a system, then it works for them.

    I do think standards are a good thing and standards work best when everyone adopts them.

    But other than for scientific and engineering applications, I don’t think there is any inherent difference in what units of measure are used.

    I would be curious if you could point to a study showing that metric units are more naturally intuitive to the way human perception works.

    Perhaps then I might agree that they are objectively “better”.

  2. Adam says:


    Metric units are in increments of 10, which makes quick arithmetic easy. A kilometer is 1,000 meters. A mile is 5,280 feet. Which is saner?

    Standard prefixes: kilo = 1000, centi = 1/100, milli = 1/1000, and so on. So centimeter, meter, and kilometer are normalized and predictable; inch, yard, and mile require memorizing odd multipliers. (A yard is 36 inches, a mile is 1760 yards.)

    The base values are derived from logical sources. For example, a kilogram is defined as the weight of one cubic meter of pure water. Centigrade is defined as 0 degrees at the freezing temperature of water, and 100 degrees at its boiling temperature. Compare that to Fahrenheit, which puts water freezing and 32 degress and boiling at 212 degrees.

    Standardization: it’s what science and most of the planet use. Conforming to standards is valuable for cooperation and compatibility.

    The one good argument I’ve seen for the imperial measurement system is that inches are useful in carpentry, where you very often want to bisect a length. Since inches typically break down by halves (1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16) this makes it easier to bisect things at small sizes than a decimal system like centimeters / millimeters.

  3. Adam @ Dusk » Scandinavia, Day 1: Flight says:

    […] ime; and two, because (even though it didn’t specify) I knew that temperature was in Centigrade. Some stats: Expenses: $500. $465 for half of my $930 round trip ticket, $5.25 for Bart, $30 in various […]

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