TheSonntag
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Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:40 am

Let me make this clear, this thread is not meant as US bashing.

But was the metric system ever considered in the US? I always find it odd that the US still use feet, inches, gallons and so on. Yet I know that you certainly think it is the best system as you are used to it. Equally, I would hate to change to another system as I was born with the metric system.

So a change to the metric system obviously will never happen.

But was it seriously considered? And why are you using Fahrenheit instead of Celsius?

Michael
 
CaptOveur
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:45 am

Quoting TheSonntag (Thread starter):
But was the metric system ever considered in the US?

Yes, and every few years they re-consider it

Quoting TheSonntag (Thread starter):
I always find it odd that the US still use feet, inches, gallons and so on.

So do I.. I know the Metric system is better, as does just about anyone with any kind of a brain, but in the US everything is done to the lease common denominator. Thus, we fear change.
Things were better when it was two guys in a dorm room.
 
cfalk
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:47 am

I remember dual use in the 70s, where speed limit signs and all sorts of things were required to be in both metric and Imperial. It was very silly, and died in the early 80s.
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SlamClick
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:49 am

The last time there was a big push must have been in the Carter administration.

The big problem with that effort was that they kept translating for us. People got the idea that they'd have to use both system always for the rest of their lives.

I'm not that big a fan of the metric system. The math is really simple but it is not based on anything real any more than feet, miles or furlongs are. Maybe we should have some system based on the size of the earth.
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CaptOveur
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:54 am

I think we should express speed in Furlongs per Fortnight

Fuel Economy in Furlongs per hogshead.

Those are all the stupid ones I can think of at the moment.
Things were better when it was two guys in a dorm room.
 
N1120A
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:55 am

Actually, metric is the official system of measurements for the US Government. The reason Imperial measurements (with some exceptions, our pints are smaller than UK pints, as are our gallons) are still used so much is because of the difficulty in converting such a large country en masse. The road system alone would cost billions and take quite a long time.
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Superfly
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:55 am

Quoting Cfalk (Reply 2):
I remember dual use in the 70s, where speed limit signs and all sorts of things were required to be in both metric and Imperial. It was very silly, and died in the early 80s.

I remember seeing both signs as recently as the mid-1990s.

That 1987 Chrysler LeBaron convertible I used to have had US and metric nuts & bolts. That added to the frustration of owning such an unreliable car. It was full of suprises on the road and in the garage.
The digital instrument display like all other cars that come with that option can convert everything to metric with just one push of a botton.
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TheSonntag
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:56 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):

Well, while the definitions itself are pretty strange today, as they needed to be more accurate, the original definitions of the metric system were based on the earth. For example, a cubic decimeter of water at lowest (3.8 degr. Celsius) density is exactly containing 1litre of water, weigthing exactly 1kg).
Of course, these definitions are not the ones used anymore today, but they make it very easy to calculate.

The metre actually was based on the size of the earth, but this definition is not used anymore.
 
kiwiandrew

RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:58 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
The math is really simple but it is not based on anything real any more than feet, miles or furlongs are. Maybe we should have some system based on the size of the earth

actually it is ....or , at least , it was meant to be

http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/meter.html

Thus, the meter was intended to equal 10-7 or one ten-millionth of the length of the meridian through Paris from pole to the equator. However, the first prototype was short by 0.2 millimeters because researchers miscalculated the flattening of the earth due to its rotation.
 
Matt D
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:01 am

But was the metric system ever considered in the US?

Yes, and in some places, that system got the best possible response-the signs were actually shot down.
 
Logan22L
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:04 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
but it is not based on anything real any more than feet, miles or furlongs are.

Not true, actually. The meter was defined in the late 1700s as one ten-millionth of a quadrant of the earth's surface - that is the distance from the north pole to the equator.

The kilogram then became the mass of a cubic "container" of water 0.1 meters in each dimension.
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aloges
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:07 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
Maybe we should have some system based on the size of the earth.

Which would be... the metric system!  Wink
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Fokker Lover
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:40 am

I had the most difficulty converting to metric time.
Working for an airline on 3rd shift with metric weekends is a real killer.
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redngold
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:42 am

The metric system failed in the U.S. when, upon conversion of the length of I-90 (The U.S.'s longest interstate highway) from miles to kilometers, it was found that while its eastern terminus would remain at Boston, MA, its western terminus would be relocated to Humboldt, South Dakota - a thoroughly unacceptable alternative.


redngold
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DfwRevolution
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:44 am

Quoting Aloges (Reply 11):
Which would be... the metric system!

The metric unit for distance (meter) is no longer represented by any earthly quantity:

"The metre (or meter) (symbol: m) is the SI base unit of length. It is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in absolute vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second."
 
aloges
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:48 am

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 14):
The metric unit for distance (meter) is no longer represented by any earthly quantity:

Nowadays, you're correct. However its roots are very much down to earth:

Quoting Logan22L (Reply 10):
Not true, actually. The meter was defined in the late 1700s as one ten-millionth of a quadrant of the earth's surface - that is the distance from the north pole to the equator.
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TheSonntag
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:55 am

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 14):

No, but that doesn't change the fact that the original definiton still is correct. The kg, for example, is defined as the weight of the international kilogram prototype, but 1 cubic decimetre of water at 3,8 degrees still weighs a kilogram.

So unless you are a physician, the definitons are still pretty straightforward.

However, I personally really hate Kilonewton. 500000lbs of thrust is something I understand. 250kn not. But this does not change the fact that I never would want to change from the metric system to another system. And therefore I also understand that people in the US don't want to change, either.

For example, the power of car engine in Germany officially must be measured in kW. Nobody cares, everybody wants to know how many horsepower (the German unit, PS, I guess every country had a slightly different definition of horsepower) it has.

If you changed it today in the US, I guess it would take 40 to 80 years until everybody uses the new units.

But I still think the metric system is better  Smile
 
srbmod
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:15 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 6):
I remember seeing both signs as recently as the mid-1990s.

They still have them on several highways in Newton County east of Atlanta.
 
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PA110
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:22 am

If I recall correctly, the reason why the Metric system failed was the cost. At the time it was introduced by the Carter Administration in the 70's, the U.S. economy was experiencing high inflation. Neither private industry nor the federal government was willing to underwrite the pretty hefty costs associated with converting to metric.
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yooyoo
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:29 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
The last time there was a big push must have been in the Carter administration

Quick, Canada, lets adapt it before the US does......

....the rest is history !  Wink
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N1120A
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:35 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 6):
I remember seeing both signs as recently as the mid-1990s.

They are still in some parts of the US, including our home state of California.
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TheSonntag
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:44 am

Does Canada have the metric system?
 
prebennorholm
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:48 am

Quoting Aloges (Reply 11):
Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
Maybe we should have some system based on the size of the earth.

Which would be... the metric system!

Aeh, that was in the good old days. Some 30 or 40 years ago the UN redefined the meter to be the length of a certain number of emission waves of gamma rays from a certain radioactive isotope. I don't remember the details.

That makes the meter a constant thing while the Earth is growing bigger at sea level as the sea rises due to global warming.

Edit: Wrong! Read reply #14 instead. I was mixing up with the modern definition of the second (time unit). Sorry.

[Edited 2005-11-23 01:53:38]
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RayChuang
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:56 am

Actually, the US automotive industry has heavily used the metric system for a number of years. Note that nowadays engine displacement is defined in cubic centimeters or liters and tire width is defined in millimeters (though for some strange reason automotive wheel size is defined in inches even in metric countries; the Michelin attempt to definite automotive wheel size in millimeters with the TRX tire wasn't adopted by anyone else).

Also, the food industry has both metric and English measurements for weight, dry capacity and liquid capacity since the late 1970's. That's why you see soda bottles in 1 and 2 liter sizes all over the USA.

One thing that I find puzzling is the fact that even now flight altitude for commercial airliners are still defined in feet and not meters (per current ICAO rules).
 
yooyoo
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:58 am

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 21):
Does Canada have the metric system?

Sure do and loving it !!
I am so smart, i am so smart... S-M-R-T... i mean S-M-A-R-T
 
Logan22L
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:11 am

It's funny in the US, because I use the metric system every day at work (micrograms, millgrams, liters, cubic meters, degrees Celcius) and then use the Imperial system everywhere else. For me it has become common to think about how a value in one system relates to an equivalent value in the other system. Kind of like speaking a second language in a "here's what this means in English" way, rather than just as a language on its own.

I also carry around a number of conversion factors in my head, such as 1 gallon = 3.785 liters, 1 kg = 2.2 lbs. It becomes second nature after a while, but for most "non-work" units, I still think of Imperial units and how the metric units relate to them, rather than just understanding the metric units on their own.
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usflyer msp
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:14 am

In the late 80's - early 90's, the school district I attended until the 8th grade in New York State declined to teach the imperial system of measurements thinking that by the time we were grown up the US will have switched over to the metric system. Needless to say, this never happened and I still have to keep a conversion chart with me to this day. So obviously, someone thought that the US was going to switch.

USFlyer MSP
 
irelayer
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:22 am

Because we can? :P

I honestly learned Metric (science) and Imperial (everything else) pretty randomly throughout school and to this day Metric is much easier to think about. Too much to memorize with Imperial...

-IR
 
L-188
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 11:54 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 6):
That 1987 Chrysler LeBaron convertible I used to have had US and metric nuts & bolts. That added to the frustration of owning such an unreliable car

My 81 Ford Pickup was the same way...Body built in Windsor Ontario and the engine from the USA.

And for those of you who pay taxes in this country. The Federal Goverment in the US still pays a guy to promote the conversion to the Metric System.
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Basas
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 12:12 pm

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 21):
Does Canada have the metric system?

Half...most people use feet/inches/yards/acres/miles, etc.etc. just as (if not more often) than metric...
 
MHTMDW
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 12:20 pm

The US military is metric. Every body knows what a liter is. Drugs both legal and illegal are metric,and everybody knows what the units mean. Booze is metric. Engine displacement is metic, in fact when a teenager asked about the displacemnt of my vintage truck and I told him 392 cubic inches he had no idea what I was talking about, when I told him 6.5 liters he said, wow thats big.
 
N1120A
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:34 pm

Quoting L-188 (Reply 28):
My 81 Ford Pickup was the same way...Body built in Windsor Ontario and the engine from the USA.

Did it have a 351? If that is the case, it was likely a 351 Windsor.

Quoting Logan22L (Reply 25):
1 gallon = 3.785 liters

Isn't it 3.685?
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L-188
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:58 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 31):
Did it have a 351? If that is the case, it was likely a 351 Windsor.

Nope, it had the 300ci straight six.

Great motor, most baggage tugs in the US still use that motor.

But I had to have a set of standard wrenches for the engine, but the body used metric bolts.

damm hermaphadite.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
N1120A
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:04 pm

Quoting L-188 (Reply 32):
Nope, it had the 300ci straight six.

Great motor, most baggage tugs in the US still use that motor.

Straight Sixes are always great motors, the inherent balance means even Ford can f' it up.

Quoting L-188 (Reply 32):
damm hermaphadite.

sic, but damn funny way of putting it
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TheSonntag
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:46 pm

Thank you all for your great replies.

What I find odd is the fact that russia uses metric altitudes, while most other parts of the world use feet. I am no pilot, but somehow I don't even think feet are that bad in aviation. At least the designation of flight levels seems to be easier.

If I remember correct, we still use nautical miles and knots for ships.
 
Logan22L
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Thu Nov 24, 2005 1:27 am

Quoting N1120A (Reply 31):
Isn't it 3.685?

No - perhaps you were thinking of your IQ?  Wink
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Superfly
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RE: Did The US Ever Consider The Metric System?

Thu Nov 24, 2005 1:42 am

Quoting MHTMDW (Reply 30):
Engine displacement is metic, in fact when a teenager asked about the displacemnt of my vintage truck and I told him 392 cubic inches he had no idea what I was talking about, when I told him 6.5 liters he said, wow thats big.

I prefer to say 7.5 or 460 cubic inches instead of 7500cc.
A friend of mine frome India asked how big my engine was in matric. He had no idea that there were car engines bigger than a Chevy 350.
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