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

#### the doom cannon

##### New member
shootthebandit said:
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 logical
a 64th is half of a 32nd, which is half of a 16th, which is half of an 8th, which is half of a 4th, which is half of a half, which is half of 1. I think it makes perfect sense quite honestly. The other thing is that you only use those tiny fractions on inches, since they are the smallest subunit on the imperial system. If you have a fraction of a mile, use miles still. if you have a small multiple of feet, use yards. if you have a fraction of a foot, use inches. I think imperial is just as logical as metric when it comes to standard sizes as well, since it's just incrementing a fraction by 1 instead of a number.

#### shootthebandit

##### New member
the doom cannon said:
shootthebandit said:
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 logical
a 64th is half of a 32nd, which is half of a 16th, which is half of an 8th, which is half of a 4th, which is half of a half, which is half of 1. I think it makes perfect sense quite honestly. The other thing is that you only use those tiny fractions on inches, since they are the smallest subunit on the imperial system. If you have a fraction of a mile, use miles still. if you have a small multiple of feet, use yards. if you have a fraction of a foot, use inches. I think imperial is just as logical as metric when it comes to standard sizes as well, since it's just incrementing a fraction by 1 instead of a number.
I understand how it works but its needlessly complicated. Lets say your using a 1/32 scale. 1 increment is 1/32 and 2 is 1/16 and 4 is 1/8. Where as in metric 1 increment = 1 unit. Its just massively easier and because the units are base 10 anything less than a unit is simply a decimal rather than a series of different fractions.

As we go to larger units its multiples of ten. Everything from the smallest electron to the biggest planet all use the same scale which is really easy. As you go to larger units its all different multiples 3s, 12s etc which just adds more maths. You say that its only inches that uses fractions. I beg to differ if you get a result of 1.7 feet or 5.23 miles. It doesnt mean anything because feet and miles are not base 10 units. We could easily establish that 1.7 metres is 1 metre and 70 centimetres but 0.7 of a mile is absolutley meaningless as a decimalised number and if we are going expressing non base 10 units as a decimal the next logical step is to move towards a unit which actually translates well into decimal form

As i said before metric units in calculations actually mean something. Such as the aforementioned F=ma equation which makes absolutely no sense in an imperial measurement yet a lot of sense in metric. Couple this with a consistant scale and decimalisation and it makes working anything out a hell of a lot easier. I genuinely feel sorry for kids learning science in america when the unit of mass is a completely useless unit called a "slug"and everything isnt a power of 10

Edit: if you wanted to measure a distance accurately it might be described as 3' 2 3/64" where as we would just say 2.34 meters (the figures dont add up they are just random) the metric way just looks a lot cleaner and is easier to look at an instantly recognise. Looking at 3 feet 2 3/64 inches it just looks messy and the different units dont go well together as they are different scales.

#### ungothicdove

##### New member
Doom-Slayer said:
ungothicdove said:
I'm down for switching. Except for distances. I'm driving a hundred miles dammit, not 160 km. And maybe height too because saying I'm 5'8" sounds better than 1.7018 meters.
Thats just as meaningless as me saying the reverse "I'm driving a hundred kilometres dammit, not 62 miles". And for height you dont use milimetres...thats like using inches to talk about the height of a building.

5 foot 8 inches or colloquially 5 8.

1 meter 70 centimeters or colloquially 170.

Its exactly the same. You just think theres a difference because you use one system more than the other.

OT: Every reason you can come up to use Imperial is preferential, therefore a standardized versus non-standardized is always better.
I'm saying miles because I like the way it sounds. I know there's no difference. I lived on the Canadian border so I was well aware of the conversions. Irrational sure, but I don't really care. You don't hear Robert Plant screaming I'm going to give you every centimeter of my love. He's going to give you every inch because it sounds better. Every other use of the metric system is great, just let me have these two, all right?

P.S. I never said my height in millimeters, I think you misread that.

#### Skeleon

##### New member
Callate said:
A wider range makes for a more accurate description.
That doesn't really work when one can simply avoid talking in 10-degrees increments to be more accurate. Weather stations typically give ranges of 2-4 degrees difference at most, anyway. And believe me, people know the difference between 32 °C and 39 °C on a summer day.

But if I'm making a casserole, there's about 25 degrees difference between "nicely browned" and "burnt" in Fahrenheit, and only about ten to fifteen in Celsius.
I don't follow. Again, this is apparently just about what you're used to.

#### Jacco

##### New member
Caiphus said:
Speaking for the engineers that have to convert all this mess into a usable format, the vast majority of us loathe the imperial system from the bottom of our nerdy hearts. The reluctance of the American populace at large to switch to the more efficient and easier to learn ISU standard is incredibly annoying, and there is a very strong sentiment that we should simply swap over to doing everything in metric, to hell with anyone not prepared to finish switching with us.

Unfortunately that sentiment is not quite strong enough, its a bit like organizing a strike, either everyone's on board or the few involved just get screwed.

Ok, yes, there's more to it than that, it will take a lot of free capital to switch things over that no one wants to spend, and a lot of people don't have a clue how to deal with metric units.
I think the majority of Americans would be fine with switching. I would have no problem. The only reason I don't know the metric system that well (in terms of distances, weights, etc) is because I simply don't have occasion to use it in my daily life. The military does though. Exclusively.

The problem would be the education and cost of replacing all our signs with it. It would be an enormously expensive task and it would cause a lot of confusion at first while everyone turned to thinking about "liters of gas" instead of "gallons of gas" or "kilometers to go" instead of "miles to go." Add to that that all of our measurement devices use the imperial system. If cars suddenly switch to using kilometers per hour on their spedometers instead of miles, imagine the confusion that would cause for YEARS until all of the old cars were off the road.

So it's not really reluctance out of a sense of superiority. We recognize that the metric system is better as a standard. But it's simply infeasable to suddenly decide to switch.

#### Sean951

##### 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.
You seem to have a rather inflated view of who would be most inconvenienced. Engineers already us a scale based on base 10 for feet, or at least the ones I have worked with, but construction workers will suddenly need to find pipe in odd increments to fit existing infrastructure, and since "standard size" tends to be nice whole numbers, like 4'x8', that would pose a problem. I mean, we could just go with the direct conversion from a 16" pipe to .41m/41cm pipe, but if the whole reason is to be compatible with Europe, then we still have 2 standard sizes, changing nothing, really.

#### Something Amyss

##### Aswyng and Amyss
Superlative said:
What, you never got yours? Mine came with an anti-mater cannon and a cappuccino machine.
Damn it! I had to buy my anti-matter cannon on the black market and it's strapped to my car!

thanks, Obama!

#### Synyster

Trek1701a said:
Whereas, if you took the transition with gasoline, that conversion went abyssmally. We pump and price by the gallon. However, when the switch was tried, it was done by liters, so for the savvy types, it was just basically times everything by 4, to get close to what it was..
(Before you judge this comment know that I am speaking for the majority of people I know and not entirely on my own behalf)

Which is one of the reasons that other countries get so angry at the USA, I'm Australian and you guys pay only marginally more (I think it's around 50 cents although I could be wrong) per gallon then we do per litre, and if you consider that our dollar exchange rate is fairly even right now that means that others are literally paying 4 times as much for gasoline then the US and you still complain about it..... I know the prices very ARE high at the moment and I understand why you complain but you guys have it better than most.

##### I prefer the term "Zomguard"
We do use the Metric system in trade, scientific study and construction. We're taught the metric system in school along with the Imperial system (Though, we stop using the imperial system long after elementary.) and mostly use the latter for personal and non-commercial needs (And even then, we're usually presented with the metric equivalent along with it whenever we weight something or take a measurement.). We also kinda have 100 years of isolationists ancestors who kinda built a large foundation for this systems use during the industrial revolution and early 19th century it would be far cheaper and less work intensive to just leave the foundation in place then to commission work crews to remove hundreds of thousands of miles worth of Road Signs just to change them to Kilometers.

#### Alarien

##### New member
Yeah... summary: Nothing wrong with Imperialism.

#### Ryotknife

##### New member
Synyster said:
Trek1701a said:
Whereas, if you took the transition with gasoline, that conversion went abyssmally. We pump and price by the gallon. However, when the switch was tried, it was done by liters, so for the savvy types, it was just basically times everything by 4, to get close to what it was..
(Before you judge this comment know that I am speaking for the majority of people I know and not entirely on my own behalf)

Which is one of the reasons that other countries get so angry at the USA, I'm Australian and you guys pay only marginally more (I think it's around 50 cents although I could be wrong) per gallon then we do per litre, and if you consider that our dollar exchange rate is fairly even right now that means that others are literally paying 4 times as much for gasoline then the US and you still complain about it..... I know the prices very ARE high at the moment and I understand why you complain but you guys have it better than most.
isn't that because your government taxes the hell out of it? Not to mention, Americans have long commutes to work and we don't have a public transportation system we can use in the vast majority of the country (nor would it be feasible to do so). If gas was 4x more, many people would be paying more for gas than healthcare. The gas bills for working americans would be like 1k a month.

#### Zyxx

##### New member
Nothing. I hate the Imperial System, despite being an American who has grown up with it, is used to it and can't eyeball anything in metric.
But it's what everything here is in, so until I manage to get out of the country again, I'm more or less stuck with it.

#### oliver.begg

##### New member
spartan231490 said:

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.
you need a calculator to divide by 1000? okay...

#### Yeager942

##### New member
Honestly, I have to say as an American that I have no idea. The metric system is without a doubt better. It's just one of those things that no one feels bothered enough about to actually make the change.

#### drthmik

##### New member
talideon said:
drthmik said:
Why the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1 / 299,792,458 of a second?
Why not 1/300,000,000 of a second?
or even 1/299,792,450 of a second?

WHY!?!
Because then you'd be changing the physical length of a metre from existing standard measurement.
Exactly my point

I've seen pendulums that swing further than a meter
and ones that swing less than a meter
and pendulums swing at different speeds in different places
why a 1/2 swing of 1 second and not a full swing of 1 second?
all your "reasons" are BS invented after the fact to justify the length of your stick
Our "reasons" are just as BS but we don't care

#### GundamSentinel

##### The leading man, who else?
I don't think anyone can argue that Imperial is an easier system, though some people will try very hard.

But I can't blame people for hanging onto the Imperial system. If you grew up with it, it's what you work with. And while I grew up with just metric I sometimes find more practical use for imperial measurements. It's the big difference between defining the size of your measurement and the relation between your sizes.

#### Quaxar

##### New member
Alarien said:
TLR: I skipped this entire discussion because:

WE THE FUCKING PEOPLE ARE UTTER FAILURES

The imperial system is nothing more than an extension of conquest basis monarchy.

If you want to know why monarchy works, READ (PLEASE GOD READ) Aristotle. If you want to know why democracy (and Republic, by extension) are failures) FUCKING READ ARISTOTLE.

I hated Aristotle when I was 17. Then I grew up. I am now 37. Aristotle was a fucking genius.

Imperial systems are not failures. They are not great. They are recognition that conquest is a natural part of human society. Might is Right is a natural TENET of human society. There is nothing wrong with Conquest... so long as it incorporates the Conquered.

Right now, if America conquered Mexico and incorporated it into American society, with American protections and laws (and restrictions), eliminated the local drug warlords, instituted a national wage level and full-time benefits, and put a Wal-Mart and McDonalds on EVERY corner.... how many Mexicans do you think would complain with any serious-ness?

Conquest and Imperialism are natural. Don't try to pretend otherwise or you are deluding yourself.
Uh... do you think maybe you mixed something up here? This is about the imperial measurement system, not Imperialism. I doubt Aristotle had much to say about metric.

#### blackrave

##### New member
BigTuk said:
Actually the reason is simple. There'd be too much resistance because the imperial system is so ingrained not just in american culture but in thought patterns. That and you'd have to get 50 states to agree on that and we know how impossible that will be.. so long as texas is texas. Remember we're talking about the country actually tried to have Pi legally redefined as 3.2 and got a surprisingly far way along with that plan.
O_O
WHAT!?
I just..
What???
Why?
No, really, why?
You can redefine anything, but it won't change the reality.
Fuck, while they are at it, they should redefine Earth gravity constant to 10 m/ss, it would make calculations super easy
And when bad things will happen due to wrong results, they can always blame witchcraft.

#### SnakeSpawn

##### New member
Amaror said:
I am a computer scientist. You don't have to tell me of the beaty of a system based on the number 2. However the decimal system is way better to calculate more complex stuff in advanced mathmatics and physics, etc.
But come on you have to agree that those numbers are pretty ugly to deal with. 12 inches in a foot, 5280(!!!) foot in a mile. Come on, who wants to memorize that stuff. Just take a meter and calculate with thousands in the metric system and your good to go.
I am an aerospace engineer, so I deal with advanced mathematics and physics. I use both Metric and Imperial Systems on a regular basis. I've found that rounding errors can be greatly reduced when using the Imperial System, at least in university where work was often done by hand. In industry, we use software for all of that, so which system you use doesn't matter as much (as long as we all agree on the same system, aero engineers don't have the best track record with that).

I brought up my experience with construction because it affects a larger group of people. Most people, have, at the very least had to use odd jobs around the house, and it's easier (opinion) to work with Imperial because we often use fractions (or at least I do).

I admit that 5280 (even though it's a great number) seems a bit 'odd' when people are used to 10's, but so is dealing with decimal points that often come up when you want to take a third of something in metric. For some reason, it seems like people are better at memorizing whole numbers than decimal numbers.