Metrication matters - Number 53 - 2007-10-10
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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
Ezra Steinberg wrote to say:
Just want to say "thanks" again for your visit to Google and your fine lecture.
I quite agree that metrication is inevitable. Let's hope a new UK government sees the light and follows the Australian example.
You can view my Google presentation at: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3850801238563505476&q=metrication&total=1965&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0
Since I gave this presentation at Google, almost 2000 people (averaging 30 per day) have viewed it and they have been kind enough to give it a 5-star rating.
Mike Palumbo reported to the USMA maillist a conversation he had in a grocery store.
A woman and her young son were buying fruit next to me. I was picking up several packages of blueberries, which were all, unfortunately, labelled as "1 dry pint".
Her son, who couldn't have been more than 6 years old, asked what a "dry" pint was. The mother said, "It just means it's a pint that isn't holding something like water. Just ignore it, they're all the same size."
I caught her eye when she said that and replied, "Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhearing. Actually, a dry pint is about 16% larger than a liquid pint, it's the same with quarts & gallons too."
The look on her was priceless. She thought about it for a second, and then said, "Wait, so we have 2 of each?!"
"Yep, one dry and one liquid."
She stared at me and then finally said, "Well that's just stupid."
Tell me about it.
Today is the tenth day of the tenth month and it is the day of the year that many celebrate as 'International metric day' because it is the most decimal day of the year.
Perhaps now is the time for you to be planning which metrication targets you would like to achieve before the tenth day of the tenth month in the year 2010. That is the day when all calendars in the world can be written as:
Guy Le Couteur sent me this note:
Here's something extremely Irish for you.
I particularly like the idea of changing the size of an acre depending on the proximity of that land to a fairground.
Here is the relevant quote:
It is evident too that different standards of measurement were applied according to the quality and situation of the land, and its proximity to such things as mills, fairgrounds, routeways, woods etc. Indeed, the whole question of land survey in Ireland down to comparatively recent times seems a confused tangle unless it is borne in mind that land was reckoned in terms of its economic potential rather than in absolute units of measurement.
And some folk call them 'the good old days'!
Take care when you scan recipes. My wife was recently making a paste for a lamb curry using these ingredients: 1 large onion, 3 fresh small red chillies, 25 mm piece ginger peeled, and 4 cloves of garlic. Coarsely chop all ingredients then add ¼ cup white vinegar and 14 cup water in food processor until a paste forms.
14 cup ??
Wendy suddenly registered that using 14 cups of water would hardly make a paste. She'd need a snorkel! The scanner had blithely omitted the / sign between the 1 and the 4 changing 1/4 cup to 14 cup.
5 Signs of the times
This sign was posted on the United States Metric Association (USMA) maillist at http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/listserv.htm
The following 4-letter
Words are forbidden here:
Please keep it clean and
Everett Baugh, the executive engineer in charge of the General Motors metrication program in 1975, told the New York Times,
'To date, we cannot identify any increase in cost or delay in delivery because of metric dimensioning'.
Reif, Rita, 'The Quiet Revolution: The United States Goes Metric' New York Times, December 7, 1975.
What are the masses of the world’s smallest and largest baby ever recorded?
The world’s smallest baby was 280 grams when it was born on June 27, 1989, in Maywood, Illinois.
The heaviest baby ever documented was born in 1879 when a woman in Ohio gave birth to a 10 900 gram boy.
A wall chart in a maternity hospital to give a new mother a scale to judge the mass of her new baby might look like this:
By the way the average mass of a human head is about 3500 grams the same as the mass of an average newborn baby.
Smallest baby ever: 280 grams
Small baby: 2 500 grams
Average baby 3 500 grams
Big baby: 4 500 grams
Biggest baby ever 10 900 grams
8 Rule of thumb
Atoms in space
At sea level, atoms and molecules in the Earth's atmosphere are about a nanometre (one millionth of a millimetre) apart.
At the height where the Space Shuttle orbits (about 300 kilometres) atoms and molecules are about a millimetre apart.
Between the planets of our solar system the atoms and molecules are about 10 millimetres apart and out in deep space, between our solar system and other planetary systems, the atoms are about 100 millimetres apart.
Recently, I was able to confirm that the initial idea for a 'universal measure' that led to the development of the metric system and the International System of Units (SI) was invented by an Englishman called John Wilkins in 1668. I have now been able to write an article about my findings on this important issue.
UK readers will be interested in the fact that the original idea for the metric system came from England and readers in the USA might be interested in the extremely important contributions of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington, to the early development and promotion of the French decimal metric system in the 1780s and 1790s.
You can download a copy of my 'Commentary on Wilkins' 'Of Measure.' from: http://www.metricationmatters.com/docs/CommentaryOnWilkinsOfMeasure.pdf
10 Hidden metric
Jim Frysinger has moved to Tennessee where he intends to live the life of a gentleman farmer. However, not all is what it seems. Jim reported several examples of hidden metric:
My Massey Ferguson 1540 tractor is all metric.
I noted a trailer tongue jack that turned out to have all-metric fasteners.
A couple of weeks ago I put together a mitered kitchen countertop that I bought from Lowe's and the miter clamps that are installed underneath to hold it together (at least until the glue caulking dries) turned out to be metric. A metric wrench fit the nuts exactly with just enough slop to slide it on easily. What may cause some folks not to recognize that the fasteners are metric is that an SAE wrench that is slightly bigger will do the job, though with danger of rounding the corners on the nut flats. As with the tongue jack, no tools or parts descriptions were provided that would have revealed the (metric) truth.
Pat Naughtin is a writer, speaker, editor, and publisher. Pat has written several books and has edited and published many others. For example, Pat has written a chapter of a chemical engineering Encyclopedia, and recently he edited the measurement section for the Australian Government 'Style manual: for writers, editors and printers'. Pat has been recognised by the United States Metric Association as a Lifetime Certified Advanced Metrication Specialist.
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