Metrication matters - Number 22 - 2005-03-10
Metrication matters is an on-line metrication newsletter for those actively involved, and for those with an interest in metrication matters.
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1 Feedback - notes and comments from readers
3 Oddities - measurements from around the world
4 Tips - pointers and methods to make your measurements easier.
5 Signs of the times
7 Q&A - readers' questions and answers
8 Rule of thumb
10 Hidden metric
Feedback from the recent questionnaire suggests that most readers are happy with the current format and frequency of 'Metrication matters'. I must say I am relieved; I was not looking forward to having to write a weekly 'Metrication matters'! My wife, Wendy, put it a little more forcefully; she said that I was stark raving mad even suggesting a weekly edition of 'Metrication matters'.
Only a few more sleeps till I'm off to the USA – whee! I will be visiting Phoenix AZ, Denver CO, Boulder CO, Fort Collins CO, Salt lake City UT, Midland TX, Charleston SC, and Los Angeles CA. I will be away for the best part of two months so 'Metrication matters' will be sent by auto-pilot and I will give you a full report of my metrication doings in the USA when I return.
Boiling soup takes about 45 seconds to cool from 100 C to a tolerable 75 °C while it is simply sitting in your soupspoon. However, if you blow on it, it will drop to this temperature in about 20 seconds. Even babies know this and blow quite heartily on any hot food.
When I am fertilising my garden, I remember that my hand can hold about 70 grams of fertilisers such as 'Blood and Bone' and that this is about the right amount for a square metre of garden. You can calibrate your own hand by weighing the amount you can hold in it.
5 Signs of the times
The changeover of speed signs in Ireland (on January 20) went smoothly and was completed within the planned time scales. All the rhetoric about the disasters and carnage that were to happen on Irish roads proved to be just so much hot air. This quote, by David McKittrick, is from the 'The Independent', a UK newspaper.
'Ireland goes metric - fast
'There was some head-scratching and perplexed mental arithmetic for the first few days, but the Republic of Ireland has just smoothly and successfully brought in major changes to its roads. All speed limits in the country have been changed from miles per hour to kilometres per hour, and in the process many roads have had their legal speeds adjusted' (2005 February 8).
When we try to bring about change in our societies, we are treated first with indifference, then with ridicule, then with abuse and then with oppression. And finally, the greatest challenge is thrown at us: we are treated with respect. This is the most dangerous stage'.
A.T. Ariyaratne (Sri Lankan community organizer)
Harry Wyeth wrote to ask, 'Are you sure about the whales? 70 m/minute seems really slow. I have seen whale sharks up close diving, and with a small flick of the tail they zoomed off at a seemingly great rate of speed. These were fish, not mammals, but the principle seems the same. But maybe you are correct. Water offers a lot of resistance to forward motion.
Further research suggests that the speed of whales varies quite a lot according to their species and their circumstances. For example a gray whale might feed at about 30 metres per minute; travel normally at about 60 metres per minute; and speed away from danger at up to 120 metres per minute. A humpback whale is somewhat faster: feeding at about 50 metres per minute; travelling at about 150 metres per minute; and speeding at up to 300 metres per minute.
8 Rule of thumb
At rest your body runs at about the same power rating as a 100 W light bulb. Like the 100 W light bulb, you use 100 joule of energy per second; 6 000 J per minute (6 kJ/min); 360 kJ/h; or 8 640 kJ/d. Of your power rating of 100 W: 25 W goes to muscles including your heart, 25 W goes to your liver and spleen, 20 W goes to your brain, and 30 W is for all other organs and for digestion.
In the early 1970s, the Australian Metric Conversion Board surveyed countries that had preceded Australia in converting to SI and found that it was always the case that the benefits were quickly apparent and that the problems were always 'much less than anticipated'.
10 Hidden metric
I have recently read 'The Da Vinci Code' by Dan Brown and it is a delightful detective story romp through history. However, its approach to measurement was a little muddled when, for example, a height (presumably of 10 metres) of an upper window was hidden behind the words 33 feet. Even more interesting, was the gradual transition from pre-metric (inch-ounce) measures at the front of the book and a greater predominance of metric measures at the back – presumably the sub-editors got tired of doing all the conversions needed to hide the metric measures – I know that I got tired trying to guess what the original measures were so that I could change them back again.
Please contact for additional metrication articles and resources on commercial and industrial metrication'.
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