I think it says a lot about my level of ultra-nerdiness that I had a dream about the Metric vs. the American system and that I woke up MAD ABOUT IT.
This is what I don’t understand:
The American Customary system has no obvious or quantifiable advantage over the metric system.
So why are we using it?
I’ve been living in the US on and off for 15 years, and I’ve somewhat managed to adapt to Farenheits. That’s been a struggle too, because I’m still perplexed about a system where water freezes at 32 instead of zero degrees and boils at 212 degrees instead of 100 in the Celsius scale.
I ask you this, America:
What is WRONG with neat numbers like zero, ten, one hundred and one thousand?
Don’t you see the beauty of ten milliliters in one centimeter, one hundred centimeters in one meter, one thousand meters in one kilometer?
Instead, sixteen sixteenths of an inch in one inch, 12 inches in one foot, 3 feet in one yard and 1760 yards in one mile.
THIS MAKES NO SENSE!!!!!!
And here are my favorite tidbits from what I’ve been reading online:
- The US and Imperial systems are more “humanistic” because they are derived on from classic measurements of human anatomy such as our feet, arms and thumbs.
- According to the US CIA World Factbook in 2006, the International System of Units is the official system of measurement for all nations except for Burma, Liberia, and the United States. (but some sources identify Burma and/or Liberia as metric…).
- The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not use the metric system in its commercial and standards activities. The metric system is, however, universally used in science, and increasingly in medicine, government and industry.
- In the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 the US Government desginated the metric system as the “the preferred system of weights and measures for U.S. trade and commerce.”
- The metric system is an internationally decimalized system of measurement first adopted by France in 1791 (though the idea is attributed to John Wilkins, an Englishman).
So, my now educated conclusion is that these are the reasons the US won’t use the metric system:
- Why change?
- Apparently, in the carpentry and building trades it’s easier to remember a integer number and a fraction than a measurement in millimeters.
- Wikipedia quotes that “inch measurements are more suitable when distances are frequently divided by two,” but I have no idea what this means.
- It’s “European” as opposed to “American.”
- The entire rest of the world is doing it, so not using it makes us exceptional, in the same way that Baseball and Football make us stand apart.
This is the map of the world’s adoption of the metric system by year, from Wikipedia :-)
Finally, because I started on such a nerdy note, I’ll stay true to myself and end on that note. Here’s an awesome Reddit thread on Obama bringing us to the metric system. I’ve pasted my favorite replies below:
Q: Who thinks Obama should switch us over to the Metric System?
I’m with you every inch of the way!!
Changing signs is expensive. Who’s gonna foot the bill?
- It would have to be a metered response, one sign at a time.
But we’ve been using the imperial system furlong time!
I don’t have an ounce of respect for your stance.
If you don’t respect him, I might have to pound you in the face…