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View Diary: Measurement as a Way to Understand the World (121 comments)

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  •  the advantages of metric are greatly exaggerated (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, elfling, RiveroftheWest

    You can use decimals[and confine yourself to one unit for each measure] with the US units as well.  Personally I think it is whatever you are used to much like a mother language.   One difference that is material for daily use is the granularity of the various measures.  I like Fahrenheit over Celsius because I think I can tell the difference between 1 degree F, so 1.8 degrees seems like to big of a granular difference.  Similarly I like the pound more than the kilogram because the kilogram seems to big.  On the flip side, the gram is better than the ounce, because once you decide to measure small things the smaller unit is preferable.  You can't really say it makes sense that the basic unit of mass for daily use is one thousand of another unit.  I don't really use liquid measures so I tend to default to liters there.  I of course also use ounces/gallons, but never in situations where I have to mix more than one unit.  I prefer the foot to either the meter or the yard for granularity reasons.  I also prefer the mile to the kilometer, but I can't really articulate a good reason for that.  

    Of course what we use for cooking is rather silly, but it works. It mostly has to do with granularity.  You pretty much always use 1/2, 1, or 2 of each unit.  What even is the metric alternative to dry measures?  cubic centimeters?  Yes I know that is the same as a mililiter, but you aren't supposed to measure dry stuff the same as liquid stuff.

    There are certain constants I only know in metric since they derive from science which uses metric.  Density of water, speed of light, acceleration under earth's gravity, atoms in a kilogram of hydrogen.  But really I don't use those on an every day basis.

    I also was looking over the wiki page on metric and they seem to be using the british spelling of meter and liter which just makes me want to barf.

    •  In theory, the units don't matter. The conversion (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foresterbob, RiveroftheWest, BYw, kyril

      to and from some original units to whatever units the calculation gets made in is a trivial step.  However, the problem is that this is one more step in which a catastrophic error can be made, particularly where complex systems are involved.  Let's take health care as an example.  Doctors still measure their patients' weight in pounds using scales show only pounds (in the US).  Any calculation for a drug dosage is going to require a conversion to kg because it is pretty much universal that dosage recommendations are scaled to standard units such as mg/kg of lean body weight, etc.  Now imagine that someone in the chain of custody misses that pound/kg conversion.   The patient could end up with a double dosage which depending on the medication could be toxic.  So there are definitely valid reasons why the metric system should be extended to more parts of the layperson's daily life.

    •  You are exactly right (0+ / 0-)

      Think of it in terms of cooking. When you want to double a recipe if you can do so to accommodate the size of pots or pans and instantly know how it is related to time and  things like doubling cubes and squaring circles and trisecting angles easy to do in your head, ordinary people like cooks and bakers, and brewers  can figure how many bushels of grain or hops and how many oz of yeast they need to make how many loafs of bread or casks of ale.

      Carpenters and masons can use the tables on a framing square to instantly determine  unit rise and run or figure out what the circumference of a circle is from its diameter using a formula for Pi that instead of 3, which is inaccurate or 3 1/7 which is hard to measure 3, 1/8, 1/64 which is both easy to measure and accurate.

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Wed May 29, 2013 at 04:53:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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