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using metric or imperial measurements

sunkuwan

While developing and writing my own story, I am unsure how to implement measurements. Do I use the correct metric system from my ancestors or do I cave into the majority of US-readers and use imperial?

The story doesn't take place in the US but the MC is coming from it.

Is it even a big turn-off for US readers or am I overthinking it?

Replies:   AmigaClone
Ross at Play

You might be able to have some fun with your MC asking, "What's that in miles?"
That would seem like a touch of realism to me. :)

Replies:   Jim S
Ernest Bywater

I write a lot of stories with mixed US / non-US people, and I have the people using whatever it is they're used to from their background. So a US person uses the Imperial Measurements, while an Aussie person uses the metric system. However, where I have them in the narrative I'll often show the other in brackets (not always) and will often have people saying them in one, then adjusting it for what the other uses. Just treat it like you do in real life.

AmigaClone

@sunkuwan

The story doesn't take place in the US but the MC is coming from it.


I would say, for the most part, use metric in conversations. When the MC is thinking, perhaps use the imperial system along with something like "or as they would say here ..." with a rough conversion.

If part of the story involves the difficulties in adapting to a new culture, then adjusting to the metric system can be a part of that.

sunkuwan

Well the MC is a college graduate but I don't know which direction she took, yet. I prefer sciences (based on her background, personality, and preferences), so she shouldn't have problems with the metric system.

Geek of Ages

Even scientists here in the US tend to use imperial measures for day-day things. If a US person uses metric, they're seen as a bit of a nerd at best, and thoroughly confusing at worst. A US person abroad may or may not convert appropriately (I've met some people who lived abroad for years and always had to mentally convert back to imperial)

So if you have a US character providing the narration (or being the focus of the omniscient narration), then you should do imperial, in my opinion. But it's based on the character

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

I watch a fair amount of television from the UK, Canada & Australia, and even though they are officially metric, most/many of the characters use imperial in regular conversation.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Joe Long

I watch a fair amount of television from the UK, Canada & Australia, and even though they are officially metric, most/many of the characters use imperial in regular conversation.


With Australian stuff you need to be aware of the age of the show, the age of the characters and actors, and of social inertia.

Metric became legal here in the mid 1970s, so anything prior to 1980 is likely to be imperial. Older people born before 1960 are likely to imperial due to being taught that in school. Also, we have a lot of terms based on the imeprial system still in use - like mileage for car consumption, etc.

Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

Even scientists here in the US tend to use imperial measures for day-day things. If a US person uses metric, they're seen as a bit of a nerd at best, and thoroughly confusing at worst. A US person abroad may or may not convert appropriately (I've met some people who lived abroad for years and always had to mentally convert back to imperial)

U.S. scientists talk imperial, but measure in metric (at least for work). If he/she goes home and says, could you pour me a half-litre, his/her wife is gonna say "What the fuck?"

sejintenej

Kids and shops here learn/use metric almost exclusively BUT public road signs are still imperial. However, in a twist, forced on us by the French back in the 1800's, roads also have distance marker posts in metric.

If that wasn't enough the French slang uses a parallel to imperial. Having a beer a "demi" (half) is not 500ml but 250ml which is very close to half an English pint. In the market you can buy a livre (pound) of fruit which is 500grammes (very close to a UK pound weight). Confusion; thy name is France

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
zebra69347

Here in the United Kingdom many products are sold in metric units, but can be marked with Imperial measure, e.g 1 pint of milk is 568 millilitre. Fuel is sold in Litres, but then car performance is expressed in miles per gallon! Road distances and speed limits are in miles/miles per hour. While lorries record distance travelled in kilometres.
Thankfully paper sizes for printing are now easy, normal office/home printers use A4 paper, not quarto 8 x 10 inches or fulscap 8 x 13 inch. Double the size of A4 is A3, on up to A0 which has an area of one square metre, not one metre square.

sejintenej
Updated:

@zebra69347


Road distances and speed limits are in miles/miles per hour.


Not quite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Apart from dual carriageways main roads generally have a speed limit of 60 miles per hour for cars.

For lorries registered in the European Union (including Britain) the limit is imposed by Brussels and is 90 kilometres per hour or about 56mph. This includes motorways and dual carriageways where cars have a higher limit.

If the lorry is registered anywhere OUTSIDE the EU (and I see some from Russia) the limit is 60mph. Again, they do not get the faster speed limit allowed to cars.

In some cases certain UK vehicles have different speed limits depending on their design (and employers may impose lower limits as well)

Crazy!

Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

However, in a twist, forced on us by the French back in the 1800's, roads also have distance marker posts in metric.

Not so unusual (and probably NOT maintained simply because of the 1800's actions), most U.S. highways have metric road markings (similar to milepost markers). It's making signage more universally useful.

awnlee jawking

@zebra69347

Here in the United Kingdom many products are sold in metric units, but can be marked with Imperial measure, e.g 1 pint of milk is 568 millilitre.


My local corner shop sells milk in metric units, but the chain supermarkets sell it in multiples of pints. The local milkman still delivers it in glass one-pint bottles.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

It's making signage more universally useful.


I'm not sure that's true. A yard is the average stride of an adult male. Expressing a distance in yards or a multiple thereof tells how many paces to get to wherever.

The Imperial system was largely based on practical measurements. The metric system is artificial.

AJ

Replies:   helmut_meukel  Joe Long
sunkuwan

I think I will use Imperial for human measurements and all other measures in metric.

The culture shock of metric vs. imperial isn't really a part of the story. she has other shocks to get used to.

Dominions Son

@zebra69347

Thankfully paper sizes for printing are now easy, normal office/home printers use A4 paper


Just to be difficult, the US uses 8.5 inches x 11 inches as the standard paper size. :)

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

most U.S. highways have metric road markings (similar to milepost markers). It's making signage more universally useful.


Only if you're near the US/Mexico border in my experience. The Canadians get a sign as they enter and that's about it. Of course, the eastern states may be doing their own thing, but West of the Mississippi Imperial still reigns supreme. Metric signage is an extreme rarity.

I remember my home state playing with dual signage back in the 90's, but that has long since been abandoned. Probably due to cost of maintenance.

Replies:   samuelmichaels
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

US uses 8.5 inches x 11 inches


AKA "A4"

Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

AKA "A4"


with a smidgen difference that vanishes in the margins.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

AKA "A4"


No. A4 is 8.27 × 11.69 inches not 8.5 x 11

Replies:   BlacKnight
docholladay

As a reader I only look for consistency in measurements regardless of what is being measured.

As a scientist or geographical expert, those might look for other things in the way of standards.

But some measurements have been mixed up for years. Look at how many mechanics have to have tools for both metric and standard sizes in order to do their jobs.

Replies:   Dominions Son
sejintenej

@zebra69347

Thankfully paper sizes for printing are now easy, normal office/home printers use A4 paper, not quarto 8 x 10 inches or fulscap 8 x 13 inch. Double the size of A4 is A3, on up to A0 which has an area of one square metre, not one metre square.


My run-of-the-mill Canon printer is adjustable from 3.75 inches to 8.75 inches which would take the US width. There are 17 programmed fixed lengths plus envelopes plus custom.

Fulscap (Foolscap) is not a supplied option but it does include "legal" at 11" x 14"

To me the new names are Hageki, Choukei and Youkei optional sizes which I suspect are Japanese.
I think most office and home needs are handled easily enough

Replies:   pangor
Dominions Son

@docholladay

Look at how many mechanics have to have tools for both metric and standard sizes in order to do their jobs.


That's generally not due to a mix up of metric and imperial measurement, but rather so that independent mechanics can work on both US made cars which mostly use nuts and bolts in imperial sizes, and European and Asian made cars which are all metric sizes for nuts and bolts.

Replies:   sejintenej
helmut_meukel

@awnlee jawking

I'm not sure that's true. A yard is the average stride of an adult male. Expressing a distance in yards or a multiple thereof tells how many paces to get to wherever.

The Imperial system was largely based on practical measurements. The metric system is artificial.


ROFL

What's artificial with the original definition of "Metre"?

The metre (also spelled "meter" in some dialects of English) is the unit of length in the metric system and was originally based on the dimensions of the earth, as far as it could be measured at the time. The litre (also spelled "liter"), is the unit of volume and was defined as one thousandth of a cubic metre. The metric unit of mass is the kilogram and it was defined as the mass of one litre of water.


Who defined "the average stride of an aduld male"?
better read:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_and_US_customary_measurement_systems
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_units

HM.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
BlacKnight

@Dominions Son

No. A4 is 8.27 × 11.69 inches not 8.5 x 11


It can make a real difference, too. My scanner software uses metric measurements and its presets are European paper sizes (there's probably an option to switch it, but I scan things so rarely that I haven't made the effort to find it), and defaults to A4, but the actual scanner bed is US Letter size. If I don't change the scan dimensions to 8.5×11 inches (in mm) before I scan, not only do I lose a quarter inch off the left margin, the scanner grinds its gears trying to scan past the physical end of its track.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Dominions Son


docholladay

Look at how many mechanics have to have tools for both metric and standard sizes in order to do their jobs.

Dominions Son answered

That's generally not due to a mix up of metric and imperial measurement, but rather so that independent mechanics can work on both US made cars which mostly use nuts and bolts in imperial sizes, and European and Asian made cars which are all metric sizes for nuts and bolts


Although things have changed I have a set of US Army spanners from WWII (huge great things off a DUKW) which are not the same as the BSI British Imperial sizes

I don't know if my modern Imperial tools are BSI or ASA

awnlee jawking

@helmut_meukel

The metre (also spelled "meter" in some dialects of English) is the unit of length in the metric system and was originally based on the dimensions of the earth, as far as it could be measured at the time.


Wow, now I hate Wikipedia (spit) even more. The metre existed before 1795 and was defined by royal decree but that part was been wikiwashed.

What's practical about the dimensions of the earth? I take thousands of paces but I rarely care about the earth's dimensions.

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


The metre existed before 1795 and was defined by royal decree but that part was been wikiwashed.


I've check a number of different sources.

http://www.surveyhistory.org/the_standard_meter1.htm

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

http://www.french-metrology.com/en/history/metre-adventure.asp

http://gizmodo.com/the-evolution-of-the-meter-1512246022

All give a French Revolution origin for the meter. Post revolution, the French Academy of Sciences adopted the basic definition of the meter as the ten millionth part of one quarter of the terrestrial meridian in 1791. Though the actual determination of that measurement would not be completed until 1795.

Can you cite any source for a metre unit that pre-dates the French Revolution?

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

Can you cite any source for a metre unit that pre-dates the French Revolution?


No :(

I was taught at school that a French king decreed the size of a metre according to one of his physical characteristics. Different kings would have different lengths so an independent standard was required.

Wikipedia does actually mention that before the standard, standard measurements were by royal decree but doesn't name them. Your other cites are vague about the length standard in operation before the standard metre was defined, and I don't think the French would have been using yards, feet and inches.

AJ

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

Wikipedia does actually mention that before the standard, standard measurements were by royal decree but doesn't name them.


They are listed here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Units_of_measurement_in_France_before_the_French_Revolution

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Can you cite any source for a metre unit that pre-dates the French Revolution?


Got a medical appointment today, so I'll go looking when I get back. However, when I was in school, way back in the 1960s we were taught a bit about metric, despite the legal measurements still being imperial, and it mentioned the metric system was first laid out for the King of France and it was being tried out in the province Paris was in. Later, during the Napoleonic period, Napoleon decreed it to be the standard for all of France and the lands they conquered.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

I was taught at school that a French king decreed the size of a metre according to one of his physical characteristics.


You have to be confusing something else with metres, nothing in human physical characteristics would approximate either a metre or a yard.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

nothing in human physical characteristics would approximate either a metre or a yard.


standard tailors quick measurement for a yard for many centuries, from the tip of their nose to the fingers of their outstretched arm.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


it mentioned the metric system was first laid out for the King of France and it was being tried out in the province Paris was in.


All of the sources I listed above put the origin of the meter and the entire metric system to the French Academy of Sciences post French Revolution.

Note: Unless you come up with a non-French origin of metre and the metric system, I would put the French-Metrology.com link I posted above fairly definitive and that agrees with the French Revolution origin.

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

That's bizarre - it seems to say there was a non-meridian definition in 1799, which is after the meridian definition.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

A yard is the average pace size of an adult male. I can't remember what a metre was supposed to be, only that it originated from a French king.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

Unless you come up with a non-French origin of metre


No, I was taught the metre was of French origin. We both agree on that.

AJ

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

That's bizarre - it seems to say there was a non-meridian definition in 1799, which is after the meridian definition.


You misunderstood. The platinum bar standard meter deposited in 1799 was based on the meridian definition.
It took that long to get a precise enough measurement of the meridian before the standard 1-meter length bar could be produced.

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

A yard is the average pace size of an adult male.


You keep saying that but you have produced nothing to back it up.

Both US and British systems of measure, the inch was the base, a foot was 12 inches and a yard 3 feet. All the sources I can find agree on this.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

All of the sources I listed above put the origin of the meter and the entire metric system to the French Academy of Sciences post French Revolution.


In the Wikipedia article on the history of the metre they put the concept as being over a hundred years earlier:

In 1670 Gabriel Mouton, Bishop of Lyon, also suggested a universal length standard with decimal multiples and divisions, to be based on a one-minute angle of the Earth's meridian arc or (as the Earth's circumference was not easy to measure) on a pendulum with a one-second period. In 1675, the Italian scientist Tito Livio Burattini, in his work Misura Universale, used the phrase metro cattolico ("universal measure"), derived from the Greek μέτρον καθολικόν (métron katholikón), to denote the standard unit of length derived from a pendulum.

However, it seems it was the French Academy of Science that came up with the exact length of the modern metre. They did so because there were dozens of different measurements and measurement systems within France at that time, although there doesn't appear to be a ready list of them all on the Internet. Since then the metre has been redefined a few times.

Due to the naming system, and the fact the modern metre closely resembles what was promoted back in the mid 1600s it's clear that's what they started from. Was the system in use somewhere at that time? - that question is not answered anywhere I can readily find on the Internet.

Even the link to NIST you give says the metre name and definition going back before the 1791 definition by the French Academy.

So it's clear the FAS did not invent the metre, they simply came up with a new length by a way of giving it an exact measurement based on the earth, a method promoted over a century earlier. Yes, the FAS promoted it's use across France, but one has to wonder if it was already in use somewhere for them to know about it a century after it was first proposed.

I'm off to the doc now.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

You keep saying that but you have produced nothing to back it up.


It's the reason why the British Army used a yardstick for their marching stride length, it was close to the average adult male pace, so they standardised it with the yard stick.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

In 1670 Gabriel Mouton, Bishop of Lyon, also suggested a universal length standard with decimal multiples and divisions, to be based on a one-minute angle of the Earth's meridian arc or (as the Earth's circumference was not easy to measure) on a pendulum with a one-second period.


A proposal only that there is zero record of anyone adopting prior to the French Revolution.

The French Academy of Science considered and rejected the pendulum based definition.

Geek of Ages

@awnlee jawking

I can't remember what a metre was supposed to be, only that it originated from a French king.


I'm pretty sure you're thinking of the foot, and an English king (or the story was corrupted by the time it was told to you). I heard the same several times in elementary school

That said, this would seem to imply that it's a bunch of hogwash.

The meter was intended to be 1/40,000,000 of the circumference of the Earth—but because their measurements were off, and the Earth is not actually a sphere, the actual circumference of the Earth at the meridian is a shade over 40,000 km (and at the equator is a tad more than a shade over). To claim otherwise means implying a hell of a coincidence.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

It's the reason why the British Army used a yardstick for their marching stride length, it was close to the average adult male pace, so they standardised it with the yard stick.


1. Do you have a cite for that?

2. Even if true that does nothing to prove that the stride length had anything whatsoever to do with the definition of a yard as a unit of measure.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Even the link to NIST you give says the metre name and definition going back before the 1791 definition by the French Academy.


Can you quote what you are referring to?

The closest I can find would be this:

The origins of the meter go back to at least the 18th century.


Sorry, but that is referring to the 1791 work by the French Academy of Science, not something that predates it.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Can you quote what you are referring to?


On NIST they say - The origins of the meter go back to at least the 18th century. At that time, there were two competing approaches to the definition of a standard unit of length. Some suggested defining the meter as the length of a pendulum having a half-period of one second; others suggested defining the meter as one ten-millionth of the length of the earth's meridian along a quadrant (one fourth the circumference of the earth). In 1791, soon after the French Revolution, the French Academy of Sciences chose the meridian definition over the pendulum definition because the force of gravity varies slightly over the surface of the earth, affecting the period of the pendulum. - Both of the suggested definitions are from the 1670s, which shows the definitions and concepts were around for a hundred years before the FAS got involved and chose which they'd use. NIST makes no mention of any other option to choose from, just the two from 1670 and 1675. Thus it's clear the FAS did not invent the metre, but simply chose how to define it, then promote it. Even the term metre was first used in the 1670s by those involved from France, England, and Italy.

Joe Long

@zebra69347

Road distances and speed limits are in miles/miles per hour.


I got fooled last month when I drove in Canada for the first time. Speed limits were easy. If it said "100", even if the "kph" was omitted, it was clear they weren't referring to mph.

On the other hand, I got fooled by distances. When the road sign said "Toronto 100" I added it to the trip distance on my odometer and thought the distance was further than what I remembered looking up on Mapquest, accusing myself of bad memory. Turns out the 62 additional miles was slightly less than expected, as my GPS had found a slightly shorter route (although through a neighborhood.)

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

most U.S. highways have metric road markings


Not east of the Mississippi where I drive.

Joe Long

@awnlee jawking

The metric system is artificial.


Right.

They tell me it's so logical that water freezes at 0 and boils at 100, but who the hell cares about water?

In Fahrenheit, 0 is fucking cold and 100 is fucking hot. It is a pretty good representation of the distribution of actual temperatures in a temperate climate such as Europe or North America. Any place that has both summer and winter.

Geek of Ages

@Joe Long

Any place that has both summer and winter.


What percentage of the world's population does not live in a temperate climate?

Replies:   Joe Long
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

2. Even if true that does nothing to prove that the stride length had anything whatsoever to do with the definition of a yard as a unit of measure.


Like a lot of old things there are conflicting historic reports, due to the dimming of the ages. However, the wikipedia article on the yard has this to say:

Both the Romans and the Welsh used multiples of a shorter foot, but  2 1⁄2 Roman feet was a "step" (gradus) and 3 Welsh feet was a "pace" (cam).

They also mention an account where the yard was said to be the breadth of an adult Saxon male - which seems a bit odd to me. It then goes on to a lot of later measurements and how they came about. It also speaks of the process of standardisation.

As to the marching, I can't find anything on line and have to rely on discussion I had with retired Australian and British Army Drill Instructors I knew, and the way I was taught to march in the NSW Police Academy (an ex Aust Army DI).

Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

most U.S. highways have metric road markings


Having driven on highways in a dozen or so states, I can't say I've ever seen them.

samuelmichaels

@Not_a_ID

Only if you're near the US/Mexico border in my experience. The Canadians get a sign as they enter and that's about it. Of course, the eastern states may be doing their own thing, but West of the Mississippi Imperial still reigns supreme. Metric signage is an extreme rarity.

I remember my home state playing with dual signage back in the 90's, but that has long since been abandoned. Probably due to cost of maintenance.

I have seen kilometers right at the Canadian border, once or twice. Otherwise, it's all miles, from Sea to Shining Sea.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@samuelmichaels

I have seen kilometers right at the Canadian border, once or twice. Otherwise, it's all miles, from Sea to Shining Sea.


Interstate 17 in Arizona from the US/Mexico border up through its meeting with I-10 is posted in Kilometers(and MPH), but that's the only one that comes to mind for me.

Grant

@awnlee jawking

A yard is the average pace size of an adult male.

So about as useful as Cubit then.
The base unit depends on the size of the person doing the measuring.
Just a bit variable.

Ernest Bywater

@Grant

The base unit depends on the size of the person doing the measuring.
Just a bit variable.


much like an early foot where the bossman said it's the size of my foot, someone cut a piece of wood to match, and then they passed it around until a later bossman said it was now different.

Joe Long

@Geek of Ages

What percentage of the world's population does not live in a temperate climate?


I admit it's a fair percentage, but that doesn't invalidate 0 being the low range and 100 the high range of human habitation. Likely 90% of the temps experienced by humans worldwide fall between 0 and 100.

Dominions Son

@Joe Long

but that doesn't invalidate 0 being the low range and 100 the high range of human habitation. Likely 90% of the temps experienced by humans worldwide fall between 0 and 100.


But that has nothing to do with the basis for the Fahrenheit temperature scale.

As for who would care about water? Everyone as it's a basic necessity of life.

As for basing a temperature scale on the freezing and boiling points of water, if you don't want to be completely arbitrary, using phase changes of a common substance makes sense. At that point, water is about the only substance for which both phase changes occur at readily obtained temperatures.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Joe Long

If you think the phase changes of water are an arbitrary choice for defining a temperature scale, you should look up the original basis for the Fahrenheit scale.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fahrenheit

Fahrenheit proposed his temperature scale in 1724, basing it on two reference points of temperature. In his initial scale (which is not the final Fahrenheit scale), the zero point is determined by placing the thermometer in a mixture of ice, water, and ammonium chloride (salis Armoniaci).[6] This is a frigorific mixture which stabilizes its temperature automatically: that stable temperature was defined as 0 °F (−17.78 °C). The second point, 96 degrees, was approximately the human body's temperature (sanguine hominis sani, the blood of a healthy man).[7]

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

Dominions Son @Ernest Bywater

It's the reason why the British Army used a yardstick for their marching stride length, it was close to the average adult male pace, so they standardised it with the yard stick.

1. Do you have a cite for that?


If the entry on Wikipedia is anywhere like correct (and in this case I think it is) a pace stick is hinged and can be set according to the length required for ordinary marching, double pace, slow march etc. It is not necessarily a yard

On top of that light infantry usually has a faster pace than other units so a shorted length would apply

helmut_meukel

@awnlee jawking

That's bizarre - it seems to say there was a non-meridian definition in 1799, which is after the meridian definition.


No, there were 3 proposed definitions for the metre, see the french Wikipedia at
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anciennes_unités_de_mesure_françaises

Naissance du mètre en 1791
Les cahiers de doléance rédigés lors de la Révolution de 1789 réclamaient une mesure universelle pour s'affranchir de l'arbitraire des unités de mesure seigneuriales. Le climat de réforme qui suivit les événements révolutionnaires permit de précipiter le choix d'un étalon.

Une commission est instituée le 16 février 1791 pour définir cette unité universelle. Elle est composée de Jean-Charles de Borda, Nicolas de Condorcet, Pierre-Simon de Laplace, Joseph-Louis de Lagrange et Gaspard Monge. Le choix doit être fait entre trois références possibles : la longueur du pendule simple à secondes à la latitude de 45°, la longueur du quart du cercle de l'équateur ou enfin la longueur du quart du méridien terrestre. C'est cette dernière mesure qui est retenue le 26 mars 1791, date de création du mètre qui est défini comme la dix millionième partie du quart du méridien terrestre.

Le système métrique décimal est alors institué le 18 germinal an III (7 avril 1795) par la loi " relative aux poids et mesures " mais celui-ci ne s'impose pas immédiatement dans la population.


BTW, look at the date of the law using the new revolutionary calender.

HM.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Joe Long

They tell me it's so logical that water freezes at 0 and boils at 100, but who the hell cares about water?


Water is probably a good base for a temperature scale since all life we know about depends on it. Adopting a base 10 scale just because we have five fingers is anthropocentric and isolationist.

AJ

Replies:   helmut_meukel
awnlee jawking

@Grant

The base unit depends on the size of the person doing the measuring.


That's true, and it required standardisation. But the origins of the measure were practical.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@helmut_meukel

Thank you. French wikipedia (spit) trumps English wikipedia (spit).

AJ

helmut_meukel

@awnlee jawking

Water is probably a good base for a temperature scale since all life we know about depends on it. Adopting a base 10 scale just because we have five fingers is anthropocentric and isolationist.


So how about the Réaumur scale? (80 degrees between freezing = 0°Re and boiling = 80°Re)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Réaumur_scale

Or the Rømer scale? (freezing = 7.5°Rø, boiling = 60°Rø)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rømer_scale

The Rømer scale is no longer in use but is of some historical importance. Alongside the Newton scale, it was the first calibrated scale.


BTW, if you insist on the Fahrenheit scale, you shouldn't use Kelvin, use Rankine instead.

HM.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@helmut_meukel

Logically, the difference between freezing and boiling should be a power of 2. I'm not sure using Earth's atmospheric pressures in the baseline is the right way to go.

BTW, if you insist on the Fahrenheit scale, you shouldn't use Kelvin, use Rankine instead.


I still think in Fahrenheit because that's what I learnt when I was young :(

AJ

Geek of Ages

@awnlee jawking

I'm not sure using Earth's atmospheric pressures in the baseline is the right way to go.


This is why Kelvin (and therefore Celsius) is actually defined as a fraction of the thermal energy difference between the triple point of water and absolute zero: neither of those are Earth-specific

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

I still think in Fahrenheit because that's what I learnt when I was young


So do I, but I don't try to pretend that it has a less arbitrary, more logical, more sensible basis than Celsius.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

I don't try to pretend that it has a less arbitrary, more logical, more sensible basis than Celsius


Neither do I - the Fahrenheit scale is a measure that does not have a practical basis. But then the Celsius scale as originally specified - boiling = 0, freezing = 100, wasn't so wonderful either.

AJ

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

elsius scale as originally specified - boiling = 0, freezing = 100, wasn't so wonderful either.


That's backwards. it was at sea level, freezing=0, boiling=100.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
MarissaHorne

@awnlee jawking

Neither do I - the Fahrenheit scale is a measure that does not have a practical basis.

I beg to differ.

The scale was defined by reference to two easily reproducible points; the temperature of a mix of equal weights of ice and salt, and the internal temperature of the human body. (Presumably the latter was some sort of average.)

Fahrenheit is now defined in terms of the freezing point and boilling point of water at standard pressure and temperature.

Dominions Son

@MarissaHorne

I beg to differ.


The problem is, there is no practical relationship between those two reference points.

sejintenej

@MarissaHorne

Fahrenheit is now defined in terms of the freezing point and boilling point of water at standard pressure and temperature.


At last someone has included the reference to "standard pressure" but the standard pressure I learned was measured in inches of mercury, not centmetres - odd.

Being biased that way I prefer Fahrenheit because it appears more accurate - there are more divisions between freezing and boiling points.

When I was at school we were starting to use Absolute Zero at about -273 degrees Celsius. I don't know what it is in Fahrenheit but I suspect it is at some equally odd number.

Would it not be simpler to have absolute zero at zero, freezing point (at a metric STP) of water at a number in pure hundreds and the boiling point (at STP) also at a nice round figure. As it is now it's like trying to learn details as awkward as the old UK pounds, shillings and pence. (only joking )

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

Being biased that way I prefer Fahrenheit because it appears more accurate


That makes it more precise, not more accurate. Precision and accuracy are different things.

I could state that human body temperature is 96.00001 degrees Fahrenheit. That is very precise, but it is not very accurate.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@sejintenej


Would it not be simpler to have absolute zero at zero, freezing point (at a metric STP) of water at a number in pure hundreds and the boiling point (at STP) also at a nice round figure.


No.

The Kelvin degree is the same size as the Celsius degree hence the two reference temperatures for Celsius, the freezing point of water (0°C), and the boiling point of water (100°C), correspond to 273.15°K and 373.15°K, respectively.


https://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/science-and-technology/physics/physics/kelvin-temperature-scale

If you set zero at absolute zero and make the freezing point of water 100, you get a degree that is 2.7315 Celsius/Kelvin degrees, which makes boiling point of water 136.6099212886692 degrees. You will get into ridiculously large numbers before you make the freezing and boiling points of water both come out to whole round numbers.

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

That's backwards.


That's how Celsius originally defined it!

"
Interestingly enough, Celsius originally designed his scale backwards from its current form. Zero was boiling and 100° was freezing.
"

http://www.indepthinfo.com/temperature/celsius.htm

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
awnlee jawking

@MarissaHorne

the temperature of a mix of equal weights of ice and salt


Not exactly something people create on a daily basis, although human body temperature passes muster.

AJ

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

That's insane.

Try dealing with temperatures of molten metal or the surface of the sun with a backwards scale like that.

Dominions Son

@MarissaHorne

The scale was defined by reference to two easily reproducible points; the temperature of a mix of equal weights of ice and salt


You have to be careful with this, he used ammonium chloride salt, not sodium chloride which is what most people think of when you just say salt.

helmut_meukel
Updated:

@sejintenej


When I was at school we were starting to use Absolute Zero at about -273 degrees Celsius. I don't know what it is in Fahrenheit but I suspect it is at some equally odd number.


It's at −459.67 °F

If you prefer the smaller Fahrenheit degree you should really use the Rankine scale instead of Kelvin. Like Kelvin Rankine starts with 0 at Absolute Zero, but its degree is the same size as Fahrenheit. Boiling point of water is 211.97102 °F = 671.64102 °Ra

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rankine_scale

HM.

Jim S

@Ross at Play

You might be able to have some fun with your MC asking, "What's that in miles?"
That would seem like a touch of realism to me. :)

If you want to take the trouble, it might be fun to play with the confusion of a imperial native being thrust into a metric environment and learning to use metric, which he surely must if put there permanently. Lessening the angst as the story progresses could be humorous if handled properly.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  sejintenej
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Jim S

Well, at least until they become pilots or sailors, where the Nautical Mile(aka "knots" when speaking in terms of speed rather than distance) comes into play. Which, is defined as the distance comprising "1 minute(1/60th of a degree) of latitude" at the equator. (6076.1 ft or 1.1508 statute miles or 1852 meters--side note, when standardized, they were off on their calculation, as it should truly be 1855 meters according to wiki. Of course, it gets worse on the RADAR side where many Naval/Air Traffic Control sets will define the Nautical Mile as being 6080 feet)
http://www.radartutorial.eu/01.basics/Radar%20Nautical%20Mile.en.html

It should also be noted, we don't technically use the "statute mile" any more, and haven't since 1959. The current standard is the "International Mile" which was agreed upon in 1959. (The U.S. ("Survey") Mile was longer than the International standard by about 1/8th inch, while most Imperial ("Staute") versions were shorter by varying degrees. This was corrected by defining the "foot" to be 1200/3937 meters long in '59.)

sejintenej

@Jim S

If you want to take the trouble, it might be fun to play with the confusion of a imperial native being thrust into a metric environment and learning to use metric, which he surely must if put there permanently

Accurately, yes. From a practical point of view most are easy and done in the head. The only ones I'm not sure about are litres/pints and those involving carats.

Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

I'm not sure about are litres/pints and those involving carats.


1 pint is close enough to 600 mils to not worry, but the carrots you feed to the rabbit.

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

I'm not sure about are litres/pints


1 litre ~2 pints (1 quart).

and those involving carats.


Gold carats, gem stone carats or vegetable carrots?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

1 litre ~2 pints (1 quart).


That's the other thing, the US pint and the UK pint aren't the same size, either.

Here in Aust we had UK pints and when we went metric the same glass pint bottles used for milk were used as 600 ml bottles of milk.

UK pint = 568 ml

US pint = 473 ml

so, in the US, you get less for your pint and gallon.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

That's the other thing, the US pint and the UK pint aren't the same size, either.


I was aware of that, but in both countries, a quart is 2 pints and in the UK, a quart would be just over a liter (1136ml) and in the US, it would be just under a liter (946ml).

sejintenej

Gold carats, gem stone carats, stones, hundredweights (which are not 100 of anything), rods, poles and perches (which are the same - I think). (and I wold remind people that in metric a demi (half) is not a half of anything and a livre (pound) is not a pound)

Why did we have all these odd names?

helmut_meukel
Updated:

@sejintenej


hundredweights (which are not 100 of anything),


It's more complicated, the UK (Imperial) hundredweight is 112 pounds, but the US hundredweight is 100 pounds.

OTOH a livre and a german Pfund are 0.5 kg, which makes the german version of the hundredweight (Zentner = 100 Pfund) equal to 50 kg.

1 hundredweight (Imp.) = 50.802 kg

1 hundredweight (US) = 45.359 kg

Because there is no official unit name in the metric system for 100 kg, in the agrarian sector where many prices are set per 100 kg the Doppelzentner (dz) is still in use.

HM.

helmut_meukel

@sejintenej

(and I wold remind people that in metric a demi (half) is not a half of anything and a livre (pound) is not a pound)

Why did we have all these odd names?


After the introduction of the metric system people still used the names of the old units for convenience, eg. 'Halbpfund' for 250 grams. 'Viertel Pfund' was shortened to 'Viertel'(Quarter). In my youth sausage and bacon and meat was still offered and asked in Pfund (or 1/2, 1/4, 1/8) not in grams. Finally the use of Pfund in offers was outlawed with heavy fines, but people still used the old unit name.

BTW, same happend with money. 1871 Germany introduced Mark and Pfennig (1 Mark = 100 Pfennig), but more than 100 years later the names of the old currencies and coins were still wildly in use, eg. 'Groschen'(= 12 Pfennig) for the 10 Pfennig coin and 'Sechser' (= 1/2 Groschen) for the 5 Pfennig coin.
In the 70ties in bars in Berlin the 20 Mark bill was called 1 Pfund in remembrance of the old exchange value of the Pound Sterling: 1 Pfund Sterling (Sovereign) = 20,43 M (London 1913: 20,410 … 20,545 M).

People usually don't like changes and if forced to, they adapt the old names to the new values.

HM.

Replies:   Ross at Play  sejintenej
Ross at Play

@helmut_meukel

In the 70ties

FYI ... There is no ambiguity in writing the plural of anything ending in numerals or more than one capital letter with just a lowercase 's', e.g. 70s, ATMs.
With single letters an apostrophe before the 's' (even though it looks like a possessive) seems necessary for clarity. You still "dot i's and cross t's".
No offense intended. :-)

sejintenej

@helmut_meukel

In my youth sausage and bacon and meat was still offered and asked in Pfund (or 1/2, 1/4, 1/8) not in grams. Finally the use of Pfund in offers was outlawed with heavy fines, but people still used the old unit name.

I THINK that when metric was introduced it was made illegal to sell or offer to sell in imperial units. However I see that many market traders are now marking prices for imperial units and only some of these are also including the metric prices.

I generally buy by the number of (say) bananas or by the volume (usually I will buy a bowlfull which is offered at the fixed price of one pound and I compare the contents of bowls offered by different traders - price per gramme or ounce is irrelevant).

zebra69347

After the discussion I look forward to seeing the story.

pangor

@sejintenej

Hageki, Choukei and Youkei


Hageki size is a postcard (100x148mm), Hageki2 a foldable card (200x148mm). Choukey formats are envelopes for various sizes, opening on the small side (instead of the long side opening western envelopes).

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