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Author Topic: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?  (Read 3378 times)

1995hoo

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2021, 03:19:18 PM »

Part of whats stupid about the whole debate is that regardless of what Congress sets as the standard for road signs or products sold in stores, there is nothing stopping anyone from using whatever measurements you want in your daily life, nor is there anything stopping any store from having a chart to tell them how much, say, cold cuts to give you if you ask for a pound of corned beef (indeed when Ive been to grocery stores in English-speaking parts of Canada, they often have reference charts for employees for that very reason, both because of American visitors and because of Canadians who dont bother to use kilograms in their daily life). Its not like youre going to throw out all your old cookbooks and such just because the standard changes, right? Of course it would make grocery shopping mildly more challenging in terms of figuring out how much you might need, but thats already a nuisance for the reason I mentioned in an earlier comment.

(Heh, I was actually looking at a pasta recipe I found in a magazine I picked up at Heathrow Airport, so most of the measurements are in grams and Ill have to convert them before going to the store.)
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US 89

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2021, 07:47:10 PM »

I didn’t understand the difference between liquid and dry ounces.

Nobody ever taught me there even was a difference between liquid and dry volume measurements.

Random question: how many basic metric-imperial measurements do you know off hand?

2.54 cm = 1 inch
30 cm ~ 1 foot (thanks, rulers!)
1 m ~ 39 inches ~ 1 yard
1 km ~ 5/8 mile

5 cm = 5 ml ~ 1 tsp
1 L ~ 1 quart
3.78 L ~ 1 gal

2.2 lb ~ 1 kg

101.325 kPa = 1013.25 mb = 1 atm = 760 torr (~mmHg) ~ 29.92 inHg ~ 14.7 psi

-40C = -40F
273.15 K = 0C = 32F
10C = 50F
20C = 68F
298.15 K = 25C = 77F
30C = 86F
37C = 98.6F
40C = 104F
373.15 K = 100C = 212F

(Why do I know all these temperature conversions off the top of my head? Turns out in the meteorological field, the C-F conversion is probably the most common unit conversion you'll do.)
« Last Edit: February 21, 2021, 09:33:31 PM by US 89 »
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kkt

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #27 on: February 21, 2021, 08:38:24 PM »

Nautical vs statute mile are not going anywhere, though

You're right.
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US 89

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2021, 09:17:12 PM »

Another note on meteorology: while the scientific side of it is almost entirely metric, a significant amount of the public-facing side is aviation - which uses quite a mishmash of units. In the US, a routine aviation weather report will contain:

- Wind in knots (1 kt = 1 nautical mile per hour = 1.15 mph)
- Visibility in statute miles (sometimes also runway visual range in feet)
- Cloud heights and ceilings in hundreds of feet
- Temperatures in degrees Celsius
- Altimeter setting pressure in inches of mercury, and often also a sea level pressure in millibars

International formats have all pressure readings in millibars and report visibility in meters ... but they still use hundreds of feet for cloud height and knots for wind speed.

If I could pick one unit I want to get rid of forever, it would be the inch of mercury for pressure. If American pilots can use Celsius for temperature, they definitely can use millibars for pressure like the rest of the world - and the general public doesn't use pressure units often enough to justify keeping inches of mercury around.

bing101

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2021, 09:29:06 PM »

Metric at least in the USA is confined to science, mathematics and engineering fields. 
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Big John

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #30 on: February 21, 2021, 09:36:45 PM »

^^ The Civil Engineering use of metric system was compulsory for US roads plan in 1996.  It over like a lead balloon so they went back to English in 1998.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2021, 09:40:09 PM by Big John »
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kkt

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2021, 10:24:13 PM »

Metric at least in the USA is confined to science, mathematics and engineering fields. 

Which of those are soft drinks?
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formulanone

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #32 on: February 22, 2021, 05:42:55 AM »

Metric at least in the USA is confined to science, mathematics and engineering fields. 

Which of those are soft drinks?


The fizzy lifting drinks are still in development.

Medicine has also mostly switched over to metric, though some over-the-counter liquid products still use tablespoons.
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kalvado

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #33 on: February 22, 2021, 06:18:00 AM »

Metric at least in the USA is confined to science, mathematics and engineering fields. 

Which of those are soft drinks?


The fizzy lifting drinks are still in development.

Medicine has also mostly switched over to metric, though some over-the-counter liquid products still use tablespoons.
Believe it or not, but there are customary and metric tablespoons for measurement purposes.
Metric is 15 ml, US tablespoon is 1/2 fl oz = 14.8 ml.
Since tablespoon measurements are used in low accuracy measurements to begin with, 1.3% difference is within the tolerance and usually ignored.
The moral of the story, I guess, is that mouth size is about the same regardless of measurement preferences
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kphoger

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2021, 02:58:46 PM »

Random question: how many basic metric-imperial measurements do you know off hand?

Temperature

1C = 1.8F or 1F = 5/9C (for doing conversions, and I find the first one much easier to do in my head)

-10C = approx. 15F (between cold and uncomfortably cold)
0C = 32F (freezing point)
10C = 50F (between windows open overnight and windows shut overnight)
20C = 68F (supposed room temperature, as determined by those with more body fat than I have)
30C = 86F (between swimming weather and shivering at the poolside weather)
40C = somewhere above 100F (really hot weather)

Distance/Length

1 km = 0.621 miles or 1 mile = approx. 1.6 km
1 inch = 2.541 cm
1 meter = approx. 3'3"

Highway speed

60 km/h = somewhere around 35 mph
70 km/h = ??? somewhere between 60 and 80!
80 km/h = 50 mph
90 km/h = 56 mph
100 km/h = 62 mph
110 km/h = 68 mph
120 km/h = ??? somewhere between 110 and 130!
130 km/h = 80 mph

Liquid volume

1 gallon of gasoline = 3.785 liters of gasoline

Weight

1 kg = 2.2 pounds



I highlighted in bold the only few conversions I know from US customary to metric equivalent.  Almost all the conversions I know are the other way around.  I think that's because I rarely ever have to figure out a customary→metric conversion in real life.  It's always a metric→customary conversion that I end up having to do.

As for C to F, here's how I do it in my head:

1.  Multiply by 2.
2.  Subtract one tenth of the total from the total.
3.  Add 32.

So, to pick a random temperature....  17C:

1.  17C x 2 = 34
2.  34 - 3.4 = 30.6
3.  30.6 + 32 = 62.6F
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SkyPesos

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #35 on: February 22, 2021, 03:14:24 PM »

I dont mind seeing km used on our roads, because higher numbers and less exit suffixes, two things I like. Imagine a speed limit of 140 km/h instead of 85 mph on TX 130 and Exit 1235A instead of Exit 768A for I-10s exit to I-45 North.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2021, 03:17:18 PM by SkyPesos »
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kkt

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #36 on: February 22, 2021, 03:57:20 PM »

0 Celsius = 273 Kelvin
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #37 on: February 22, 2021, 04:07:48 PM »

The United States almost got in on the ground floor of the Metric System.  It was born out of the French Revolution and we were tight with them after they helped us secure victory at Yorktown.  A ship bound for America was carrying 'official' kilograms and meters to set us up while Thomas Jefferson was Secretary of State.  But as luck would have it, that ship hit terrible weather, was blown off course and captured by pirates.  I guess there was no follow up on the whole Metric thing so it fell by the wayside.

Amazing to think, though, that we could have been the second country in the world to adopt the Metric System if not for a maritime mishap.  The square mile grid of the township and range system of the Northwest Ordinance that dominates the western 2/3rds of this country would be a square kilometer grid. The speed limit would 100 kph.  A football field would be a hundred meters.  The size limit for walleyes here would be 38 centimeters.
Instead, we're one of the last hold outs clinging to our feets and ounces.  Too bad.
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kphoger

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #38 on: February 22, 2021, 04:08:16 PM »

0 Celsius = 273 Kelvin

That's one I've told my kids.  Except one of them was a bit confused, apparently.  When we told him the temperature was going to drop below zero recently, he thought that meant all life would stop and the universe would fall apart.
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PHLBOS

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #39 on: February 22, 2021, 04:37:27 PM »

There was a push to adopt SI in the 1970s.  Products started to be labeled with metric sizes in parallel with the customary measures, and schools started teaching it.  I think it was the Reagan Administration that decided to abandon the governmental push, but nevertheless more and more sectors of the economy have used it anyway.  It's hard to be the only country using a system of measure.
The likely reason for abandoning such was on the grounds of the conversions being an unfunded mandate.

It's worth noting that there was an attempt to revive metric/SI conversions (the then new-DE 1 had its mile-marker based interchange numbers converted to km-based ones at the time) in the U.S. during the first 2 years of the Clinton Administration.  However, such was shot down in 1995 when the new Congress implemented a temporary moratorium on unfunded mandates.

I remember the metric push in the 70s, not the 80s.
While there was a push for it in the 70s; the intent was to make such official in the US by 1985.  Needless to say, such didn't happen per the above.
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kkt

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #40 on: February 23, 2021, 01:16:55 AM »

They had a long phase-in period, so manufacturing plants could just adopt hard metric sizing the next time their tooling wore out and had to be replaced anyway.  They may have claimed it was an unfunded mandate, but the issue was misplaced American exceptionalism.  If they'd ripped off the bandaid it would have been over 30 years ago.  Instead we're still dealing with it.

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US 89

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #41 on: February 23, 2021, 01:21:05 AM »

1 inch = 2.541 cm

Wait, what? An inch is currently defined as exactly 2.54 cm (as a result of an international agreement defining a yard as 0.9144 meters).

TheStranger

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #42 on: February 23, 2021, 03:32:22 AM »

This thread makes me wonder:

What has kept miles firmly in use in the UK over the years?  Similar reasons to why we use them here?
--

Continuing with the theme of "which metric/SI equivalents do you know off-hand"...
Going to the Philippines as often as I have since 2016, I've learned to do the distance conversions rather easily, all based off knowing 1.6 km (actually 1.6034 more exactly, according to Google) is a mile.  I've done those conversions before in following auto racing (where NASCAR has used both 500km and 500 miles for event lengths, and the old Group C sports car formula of the 80s commonly used 1000km/625 miles).

400m = approximately 1/4 mile
500m = approximately 1/3 mile
1km = approximately 5/8 mile

37C = 100F
0C = 32F
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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #43 on: February 23, 2021, 06:54:14 AM »

This thread makes me wonder:

What has kept miles firmly in use in the UK over the years?  Similar reasons to why we use them here?
--

Continuing with the theme of "which metric/SI equivalents do you know off-hand"...
Going to the Philippines as often as I have since 2016, I've learned to do the distance conversions rather easily, all based off knowing 1.6 km (actually 1.6034 more exactly, according to Google) is a mile.  I've done those conversions before in following auto racing (where NASCAR has used both 500km and 500 miles for event lengths, and the old Group C sports car formula of the 80s commonly used 1000km/625 miles).

400m = approximately 1/4 mile
500m = approximately 1/3 mile
1km = approximately 5/8 mile

37C = 100F
0C = 32F
1mile is 1609 meters, 1609.34 to be precise.
For driving purposes, accuracy is limited by tyre wear anyway...
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1995hoo

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #44 on: February 23, 2021, 07:41:03 AM »

Regarding temperature, theres an old poem to help people get a sense for Celsius that goes something like, "0 is freezing, 10 is not. 20 is spring-like and 30 is hot." I might quibble with whether 30C is really "hot" (its 86F), but its close enough to give the general idea, and in much of the USA you dont see 40C (which definitely is hot) all that often.
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kphoger

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #45 on: February 23, 2021, 11:40:07 AM »


1 inch = 2.541 cm

Wait, what? An inch is currently defined as exactly 2.54 cm (as a result of an international agreement defining a yard as 0.9144 meters).

Well, that certainly makes mental math easier!

I do wonder where that idea came from.  Must have slipped over from the thousandths place of 0.621 miles being a kilometer.
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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #46 on: February 23, 2021, 12:49:03 PM »

I was caught up in the metric push of the 70s in school.  It failed, in no small part, because teachers did not understand what the goal was.  First, not really knowing the system, they thought that any prefix would work with any unit.  While this is technically true, real world usage has some units simply not in common use.  But the main problem is they say it as a way to just make up difficult math problems based on the unnecessary skill of converting normal measurements to metric and v-v, rather than just teaching what the units were and how much they contained.

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #47 on: February 23, 2021, 02:11:16 PM »

Regarding temperature, theres an old poem to help people get a sense for Celsius that goes something like, "0 is freezing, 10 is not. 20 is spring-like and 30 is hot." I might quibble with whether 30C is really "hot" (its 86F), but its close enough to give the general idea, and in much of the USA you dont see 40C (which definitely is hot) all that often.

There's only three Celsius/Fahrenheit conversions that I know off-hand: freezing, boiling, and -40 (the point where the two are equal).

But I do have a general idea of what corresponds: low negatives are like our 20's, low 20's are like our room temperature, and so on, even without knowing the exact conversion.
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NJRoadfan

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #48 on: February 23, 2021, 02:22:11 PM »

Some customary units dominate worldwide due to US influence of the industry.

-TV sizes are measured in inches.
-Automotive tire/wheel sizes are still measured in inches despite Michelin's myriad attempts to metric it (TRX, PAX).
-Aeronautical speed measurements are in knots.
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kalvado

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Re: Why is the metric system associated with the '70s?
« Reply #49 on: February 23, 2021, 03:11:14 PM »

Some customary units dominate worldwide due to US influence of the industry.

-TV sizes are measured in inches.
-Automotive tire/wheel sizes are still measured in inches despite Michelin's myriad attempts to metric it (TRX, PAX).
-Aeronautical speed measurements are in knots.
Sony happily provides screen size in cm(inches) in UK and France (did a quick check for just those two cases): https://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/tv/t/oled-televisions
Common tire size notation - 225/55R17 for my car - contains mm as a first number and inches as a last number  :confused:
Last one is inherited from UK marine dominance. I don't think there is any use for nautical miles outside of aviation and naval navigation in US.
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