# Americans, what's so great about the Imperial System?

##### New member
I don't know and neither do I care. It's relatively easy to convert our imperial system to metric through a little math anyways. It's like, one of the first things you learn to do in a science class.

#### shootthebandit

##### New member
the doom cannon said:
shootthebandit said:
except i could just count 1 inch and 3 1/8 inch marks. heck, a lot of precision measuring tapes will give me 32nds.
the mass unit for imperial is a slug, just fyi. And nobody ever uses it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slug_(mass)
acceleration is feet per second per second, no different from meters per second per second.
Thats what im saying. You just count an 8th or 32nd but its still easier (ever so slightly) just to count the number you want. doing anything with these numbers is going to be a lot trickier than working with decimals (also considering calculators dont like fractions). Also 1/32 is 0.9mm and 1/64 is 0.45mm but what about all the measurements in between. The fractions youve given me are only the easy ones. As soon as you go to a scale of 0.1mm or even 0.01 your getting some awkward fractions whereas anything between 0.45 and 0.9 can easily be understood and calculated easily

Thats also precisely my point how can feet per second per second be calculated using pounds and slugs. It cant and thats why the newton is a sensible unit of force (hence why the pascal is based on it to). Its ties all the units together so everything can be calculated from one another without adding needless steps

#### SuperScrub

##### New member
I don't agree with everything the USA does and sometimes I feel embarrassed to be a member of the USA but the Imperial system has served us pretty well for all it's faults and in fields such as Physics we use the metric system when it counts. Besides I get the feeling this is less a "Why doesn't America change to metric" and more a "These dumb Yankees are so fat and dumb because they use Imperial System." But it's just a feeling I get from the OP and some of the people who respond to this thread that's all

#### the doom cannon

##### New member
shootthebandit said:
Thats what im saying. You just count an 8th or 32nd but its still easier (ever so slightly) just to count the number you want. doing anything with these numbers is going to be a lot trickier than working with decimals (also considering calculators dont like fractions). Also 1/32 is 0.9mm and 1/64 is 0.45mm but what about all the measurements in between. The fractions youve given me are only the easy ones. As soon as you go to a scale of 0.1mm or even 0.01 your getting some awkward fractions whereas anything between 0.45 and 0.9 can easily be understood and calculated easily

Thats also precisely my point how can feet per second per second be calculated using pounds and slugs. It cant and thats why the newton is a sensible unit of force (hence why the pascal is based on it to). Its ties all the units together so everything can be calculated from one another without adding needless steps
but when will I ever practically use anything smaller than a 32nd of an inch? If I am going to use smaller measurements, I just use a x 10^b inches. At that point, any physical interpretation is arbitrary. I don't need to have a real world equivalent of a 64th of an inch, or 128th of an inch, etc, in order to be able to utilize it

#### Dr. Thrax

##### New member
Nobody goddamned knows, it's the same damned arguments over and over again, and quite frankly a lot of us just don't give a crap.
We use what works for us, yes, we get it, you think it's stupid/inefficient/dumb/etc., but guess what?
It's not changing anytime soon, so deal with it/get over it.

#### direkiller

##### New member
direkiller said:
direkiller said:
Amaror said:
Ok, then let's get this started. I read up a bit on the Imperial System and i just can't find any great benefits to it.
Quite simply it is good for practical things when building. Wood Frames are 16" center to center, even in places with metric, it's not a number that works out nicely, and quite simply it saves time. Tiles are done in sq feet aswell due to there size.

Also how often do you have to convert? that is all I hear people say when it comes to metric, and i almost never see it even in science, they still want it in base units. So with that the strength of metric is out the window and it just comes down to what numbers you remember more, and quite frankly the imperial numbers are just easier when wood and steel are involved.
40 centimeters is a less convenient dimensional standard for a frame than 16 inches? I'm not sure I see it. Switching from square foot tiles over to 9 square decimeters doesn't seem like too much of a hassle either.

As to how often I have to convert, go look up a couple of intermediate dynamics problems and try to stick with imperial units throughout, I dare you.
40 cm is not equal to 16in exactly so yes it is a problem when you are dealing with the length of a wall, or floors.
there is also 12" and 24"CC frames which are standard for one simple reason, they line up with drywall and plywood which are the same size wherever you go. It's far better to just use imperial units then to have the sheetrock/drywall not line up with the studs,because some dumb ass was .6cm off every time he placed a stud.

As for floor space it's less about the area and more about an estimate on the amount of tiles you need, rounding the room dimensions to the nearest foot gives you a quick and dirty estimate for the cost.

I realize i am saying imperial is easyer because all the building materials match up nicely with imperial units because ameica.
but yea Imperial just leaves you with easier numbers
TLDR: Imperial is easier because people have been using Imperial. The numbers I gave were approximations of what a metric standard size might look like, I know they are not exact conversions of what is being used now.

Let me ask you this, if the companies that supply sheetrock shifted over to a 60 centimeter width, and other dimensional standards in architectural plans adjusted to similar simple standards do you think a building company would really have that much trouble adjusting their frames to match?
Just frames and sheetrock no, for everything that makes up a modern house yes. You are talking changing hundreds of different items and making sure they all still match up and work,costing millions if not billions, simply because you like the units better.

Yea, it's not going to happen.

#### shootthebandit

##### New member
the doom cannon said:
shootthebandit said:
Thats what im saying. You just count an 8th or 32nd but its still easier (ever so slightly) just to count the number you want. doing anything with these numbers is going to be a lot trickier than working with decimals (also considering calculators dont like fractions). Also 1/32 is 0.9mm and 1/64 is 0.45mm but what about all the measurements in between. The fractions youve given me are only the easy ones. As soon as you go to a scale of 0.1mm or even 0.01 your getting some awkward fractions whereas anything between 0.45 and 0.9 can easily be understood and calculated easily

Thats also precisely my point how can feet per second per second be calculated using pounds and slugs. It cant and thats why the newton is a sensible unit of force (hence why the pascal is based on it to). Its ties all the units together so everything can be calculated from one another without adding needless steps
but when will I ever practically use anything smaller than a 32nd of an inch? If I am going to use smaller measurements, I just use a x 10^b inches. At that point, any physical interpretation is arbitrary. I don't need to have a real world equivalent of a 64th of an inch, or 128th of an inch, etc, in order to be able to utilize it
Youve just proved my point for me (x10^) is used excusively in metric because it makes sense for any scale of numbers. You have basically just said if its below a 32nd you will just convert it to metric. x10^ doesnt work well with inches because it isnt a base 10 measurement and thats why we use mm because it works on every possible scale and is designed to be used in situations where x10^ is required.

##### New member
direkiller said:
TLDR: Imperial is easier because people have been using Imperial. The numbers I gave were approximations of what a metric standard size might look like, I know they are not exact conversions of what is being used now.

Let me ask you this, if the companies that supply sheetrock shifted over to a 60 centimeter width, and other dimensional standards in architectural plans adjusted to similar simple standards do you think a building company would really have that much trouble adjusting their frames to match?
Just frames and sheetrock no, for everything that makes up a modern house yes. You are talking changing hundreds of different items and making sure they all still match up and work,costing millions if not billions, simply because you like the units better.

Yea, it's not going to happen.
You are overestimating the difficulty and underestimating the benefits.

I could go point by point, but the easiest way to counteract this argument is simply by pointing out that all of those changes we need to make have already been made, tested, and proven by plenty of other countries around the world. Some things will need to be redesigned of course, but there is very very little in the way of products and design standards that are exclusively produced in the Imperial system, and building components are definitely not among them.

#### spartan231490

##### New member

The math and the science thing are largely irrelevant, since anyone who does large amounts of math and science knows the metric system. Also, in todays day and age, the math isn't any easier in practice. Sure, it's easier to do in your head, but anyone doing calculations today is using a calculator, and typing in /1000 is no harder than /5280

Personally, I prefer imperial because the units are more workable. I toyed with the idea of forcing my mindset to switch to metric a few years ago, but I find that the units are all either unreasonably small or unreasonably large. Also, I refuse to change my mindset for the convenience of others.

On a large scale, it's still used because they're is no benefit to switching. People who feel the need to use metric are trained to do so, but on an everyday scale, metric and imperial both work just fine. The cost of switching would be enormous: tools, manufacturing equipment, education, road signs, gas tanks, and so much more would need to be converted.

#### the doom cannon

##### New member
shootthebandit said:
Youve just proved my point for me (x10^) is used excusively in metric because it makes sense for any scale of numbers. You have basically just said if its below a 32nd you will just convert it to metric. x10^ doesnt work well with inches because it isnt a base 10 measurement and thats why we use mm because it works on every possible scale and is designed to be used in situations where x10^ is required.
what? since when was x10^ whatever exclusively metric? you can break anything you want into powers of 10. When conceptualization isnt an issue, 0.000438 inches is a perfectly acceptable number to come up with. In fact, that's a pretty good number for the deflection of a steel beam per inch of length. please tell me what 0.000483 mm looks like. You can't, and I can't tell you what 0.000483 inches looks like either. When it comes to doing calculations, units don't matter as long as you keep them consistent. When dealing with physical applications, inches and feet are a lot easier to conceptualize than mm, cm, and m because they were designed that way.

#### Sean951

##### New member
The US has been breaking the foot in to decimals for decades, if not longer. Surveyors don't even use inches, preferring to use Stations (100 feet), feet, tenths (~10/8 of an inch), and hundredths (~1/8 of an inch) because it makes the math easier, especially when finding percent fall of a road. You would also have to come up with a new standard size that fits existing buildings, car, toilets, machinery... Either way, it really would be a nightmare at this point in time, especially when most people either know how to do what they want with Imperial (most tapes are marked down to the 1/16," for the earlier person) and those who can't just use metric.

#### remnant_phoenix

##### New member
Amaror said:
First of all. I know this i probably going to be a pretty difficult discussion. Everyone here has grown up with one or the other measurement system, so nobody can be really objective about this.

Ok, then let's get this started. I read up a bit on the Imperial System and i just can't find any great benefits to it.
I am an American, and ever since I learned the metric system in a special-placement math class when I was ten years old, I have always felt that it was superior and the fact that America doesn't use it is nonsensical.

The only argument I've heard that has any reasonable substance (and not much substance, just a little) for keeping the Imperial system is "that's what we've always used and it would be too much trouble and too costly to make the change." So, the only benefit of the system, as far as I can tell, is that it allows America to maintain the status quo and not go through the not-completely-insignificant-but-completely-manageable-and-worth-it difficulty of restructuring educational materials, redoing all the speed limit signs to KPH, etc.

Seriously, that's it. American complacency and respect for tradition, though in this case it is a completely meaningless tradition; there is nothing sacred about our measurement system. On that note though, you may be interested to know that here they're not referred to as "imperial" and "metric." They're called "standard" and "metric." Harmless enough labels on the surface, but the semantic implication is that imperial is normal and metric is deviant, even though from a broader perspective the opposite is more accurate.

I appreciate your consideration of differing cultural and social norms, but, as an American, I say that the imperial/metric issue is an instance where it is perfectly fitting to say that America is being silly and backwards.

#### Sean951

##### New member
remnant_phoenix said:
Amaror said:
First of all. I know this i probably going to be a pretty difficult discussion. Everyone here has grown up with one or the other measurement system, so nobody can be really objective about this.

Ok, then let's get this started. I read up a bit on the Imperial System and i just can't find any great benefits to it.
I am an American, and ever since I learned the metric system in a special-placement math class when I was ten years old, I have always felt that it was superior and the fact that America doesn't use it is nonsensical.

The only argument I've heard that has any reasonable substance (and not much substance, just a little) for keeping the Imperial system is "that's what we've always used and it would be too much trouble and too costly to make the change." So, the only benefit of the system, as far as I can tell, is that it allows America to maintain the status quo and not go through the not-completely-insignificant-but-completely-manageable-and-worth-it difficulty of restructuring educational materials, redoing all the speed limit signs to KPH, etc.

Seriously, that's it. American complacency and respect for tradition, though in this case it is a completely meaningless tradition; there is nothing sacred about our measurement system. On that note though, you may be interested to know that here they're not referred to as "imperial" and "metric." They're called "standard" and "metric." Harmless enough labels on the surface, but the semantic implication is that imperial is normal and metric is deviant, even though from a broader perspective the opposite is more accurate.

I appreciate your consideration of differing cultural and social norms, but, as an American, I say that the imperial/metric issue is an instance where it is perfectly fitting to say that America is being silly and backwards.
It's not just signs that would have to be changed though. Literally every material good manufactured and used in the US would have to find a new standard that also matched the existing buildings/machines/every thing out there.

#### searron

##### New member
Rainbow_Dashtruction said:
Why does America use the Imperial system? Same reason they change the spelling of a bunch of words, because America likes being the special child who eats all the glue but everyone goes "Oh don't worry, that's just little Timothy working his creative brain again"
The British has arbitrarily changed words as well. For example, "Aluminium." The word, with out spelling reforms should be "alumium."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-language_spelling_reform
There is a large amount of spelling reforms that were suggested and attempted by the English.

The US system is due to Noah Webster's reforms.
So until you start spelling things like nyce(nice), fisc(fish), and cyning(king)[the orginal spellings of these words), you don't get to complain about spelling changes.

#### Amir Kondori

##### New member
People are used to it and an object in motion tends to stay in motion, an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Momentum, that is it. Ask any American, no one speaks with glowing nostalgia about growing up with Imperial system.
"Oh I remember measuring out quarts into my mixing bowl, made several pounds of cake that day! Imperial system is just the greatest" said no one ever.

#### shootthebandit

##### New member
the doom cannon said:
shootthebandit said:
Youve just proved my point for me (x10^) is used excusively in metric because it makes sense for any scale of numbers. You have basically just said if its below a 32nd you will just convert it to metric. x10^ doesnt work well with inches because it isnt a base 10 measurement and thats why we use mm because it works on every possible scale and is designed to be used in situations where x10^ is required.
what? since when was x10^ whatever exclusively metric? you can break anything you want into powers of 10. When conceptualization isnt an issue, 0.000438 inches is a perfectly acceptable number to come up with. In fact, that's a pretty good number for the deflection of a steel beam per inch of length. please tell me what 0.000483 mm looks like. You can't, and I can't tell you what 0.000483 inches looks like either. When it comes to doing calculations, units don't matter as long as you keep them consistent. When dealing with physical applications, inches and feet are a lot easier to conceptualize than mm, cm, and m because they were designed that way.
Its not exclusively metric sorry that was bad wording but it is the fundamentals of metric. You are correct anything can be broken into powers of ten however metric is designed to be broken into powers of ten. You mention not being able to conceptualise certain numbers such as the 483 nano metres (or 10^-9 metres, can you tell me what 10^-6 inches is equivelant to in feet, yards or miles of the top of your head?). trying to conceptualise something as a fraction is ridiculous, what is 1/64 of anything? 63/64" is an absolutely rediculous way of saying 25mm. I could describe 1.25mm as 1/8cm and so on but i dont because it just doesnt make sense and its completely illogical compared with a logical increment of 1mm for every one increment of the scale. If i want a spanner 1 increment smaller than a 10mm spanner i select a 9mm whereas with imperial its not that logicaly

Edit: TLDR
on a metric scale 1 increment = 1 mm and 10 of these is 1cm. (Logical 1 = 1)
Imperial every 1 increment = 1/32" and every 32 of these is an inch (illogical 1 = 1/32)

on a metric scale 100 cm = 1m (logical scale simply x10^)
On an imperial scale 12inches = 1 foot (illogical)

On metric scale 1000m = 1km (again we see consistancy)
Imperial 1 yard = 3 feet (again inconsistency)

#### remnant_phoenix

##### New member
Sean951 said:
remnant_phoenix said:
Amaror said:
First of all. I know this i probably going to be a pretty difficult discussion. Everyone here has grown up with one or the other measurement system, so nobody can be really objective about this.

Ok, then let's get this started. I read up a bit on the Imperial System and i just can't find any great benefits to it.
I am an American, and ever since I learned the metric system in a special-placement math class when I was ten years old, I have always felt that it was superior and the fact that America doesn't use it is nonsensical.

The only argument I've heard that has any reasonable substance (and not much substance, just a little) for keeping the Imperial system is "that's what we've always used and it would be too much trouble and too costly to make the change." So, the only benefit of the system, as far as I can tell, is that it allows America to maintain the status quo and not go through the not-completely-insignificant-but-completely-manageable-and-worth-it difficulty of restructuring educational materials, redoing all the speed limit signs to KPH, etc.

Seriously, that's it. American complacency and respect for tradition, though in this case it is a completely meaningless tradition; there is nothing sacred about our measurement system. On that note though, you may be interested to know that here they're not referred to as "imperial" and "metric." They're called "standard" and "metric." Harmless enough labels on the surface, but the semantic implication is that imperial is normal and metric is deviant, even though from a broader perspective the opposite is more accurate.

I appreciate your consideration of differing cultural and social norms, but, as an American, I say that the imperial/metric issue is an instance where it is perfectly fitting to say that America is being silly and backwards.
It's not just signs that would have to be changed though. Literally every material good manufactured and used in the US would have to find a new standard that also matched the existing buildings/machines/every thing out there.
Does that mean it isn't worth the trouble? That's for each person to decide. I for one believe that it IS worth the trouble, and I work in a field (education) that would be greatly effected by the change, ergo I would have to bear some of that trouble and I still say it's worth it.

I didn't say it would be easy, only that it was, as I said above, "not-insignificant-but-completely-manageable-and-worth-it", meaning that the trouble would be significant, yes, but that the trouble was manageable and that the end result would be worth the trouble.

You are, of course, free to disagree.

#### JambalayaBob

##### New member
The reason that imperial seems so weird is that most countries use base 10, while most imperial units use base 12. A base 12 measurement system is much more logical in a low tech world, because 12 is easily divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6, instead of just 5 and 2 like 10. It's how time is handled internationally as well. Let's not forget that the French did try to push the metric clock, which was a total blunder.

Anyway, instead of changing every measurement system to focus on 10 rather than 12, the French could have changed their counting system from decimal to dodecimal. Maybe this seems weird to us, but there are cultures that do this, and of course, Mesopotamia had a counting system based on 60, which is just 12 times 5. Just try to think about how weird the metric system is for people on base-12 counting systems.

Point is, the imperial system exists as it does for a reason, and it's worth thinking about more deeply than the French did.

##### New member
Sean951 said:
It's not just signs that would have to be changed though. Literally every material good manufactured and used in the US would have to find a new standard that also matched the existing buildings/machines/every thing out there.
For the majority of the goods you mention, that will not be necessary. Most companies that do a significant amount of overseas business will have metric standard versions of their products already.

As for the rest, give me access to the digital plans for the products in question, a copy of the standardized metric codes for the same, and about five minutes per part file. Assign two other engineers to independently check up behind me. There's a bit more to it of course, but it would overall not take much in the way of effort or time.

Seriously, tweaking the dimensions of an already set design by small amounts is not that tough,and our software is already configured to switch between Imperial and Metric values for the same dimensions on the fly.

Well, I should say that it isn't that tough anymore, our tools have improved dramatically in recent decades thanks to the computer age.

In spite of the relative ease, engineers like myself will be the most inconvenienced out of all Americans by the transitional period in between Imperial and Metric. It is primarily our efforts that will allow for the conversion to take place at all. And yet, almost to a man, I and my peers are looking forward to that conversion. Just let that sink in for a while.