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

#### Valkaris

##### New member
Nothing. Nothing is great about the Imperial System. It is pointless. We ought to switch.

#### IceForce

##### Is this memes?
Legacy
drthmik said:
ar·bi·trar·y
&#712;ärbi&#716;trer&#275;/

1.
based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.
Missing the point a bit, I think.

Imperial System:
Number of inches to a foot?
Number of feet to a yard?
Number of yards to a mile?
Number of ounces to a pound?
Number of pounds to a ton?
Number of pints to a gallon?

All of these numbers are completely arbitrary.

Metric System:
Number of millimetres to a centimetre?
Number of centimetres to a metre?
Number of millimetres to a metre?
Number of metres to a kilometre?
Number of grams to a kilogram?
Number of millilitres to a litre?

In contrast, all of these numbers are either 10, 100, or 1000. Not arbitrary at all.

THIS is why people are calling the imperial system arbitrary.

#### EvilRoy

##### The face I make when I see unguarded pie.
Legacy
Imperial/metric can actually cause quite a bit of trouble for us in structural engineering though. On one hand most materials are produced in imperial units due to my country's attachment to the states, wood and steel for instance, on the other hand every single engineering standard in Canada, and a few I've worked with from the states, uses metric units. Having to convert every single material dimension and spacing to metric so I can actually check construction against local building standards is not fun, made worse by the fact that lumber pulls the rough/planed bullshit where a 2x2 is actually more like a 1.5x1.5 until you get up to chunkier sizes where it goes to either 1:1 or 0.75:1.

Even though I've managed to get used to this crap myself, its actually getting steadily worse for young engineers and tradespeople entering the field. When I was a boy (allow me to check for grey hair now...) my teachers growing up typically knew imperial and then learned metric, so they understood and could explain both to kids. These days, most teachers grew up with the metric system, but nobody bothers to learn imperial anymore because you don't have to and some districts actively frown on it, so the kids getting to junior status in these fields just don't understand imperial. This is made worse by the fact that *I* barely understand what a lb-ft is, for example, and have no intuitive understanding of the permutations of that unit, but I still have to explain it to people.

Then you start to hear horror stories about people converting wrong and a shit-tonne of money and time being wasted because they ordered too much/little of this or that or the moment frames for this whole floor just won't work and you get super paranoid about it.

#### spartan231490

##### New member
oliver.begg said:
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...
It's never just dividing by 1000, it's dividing by 1000 to get your g/mol into kg/mol, then dividing by 6.02X10^23 to get kg/molecule, than multiplying by 3 constants over pi, and raising the whole thing to the 2/3 power, then using the 1/x function and multiplying that by etta, and finally taking the square root. So yes, I use a calculator to divide by one thousand, because I have enough shit I need to think about when doing my physical chemsitry lab/homework/test without worrying that I might accidentally screw up a simple unit conversion.

#### shootthebandit

##### New member
IceForce said:
All of these numbers are completely arbitrary.

Metric System:
Number of millimetres to a centimetre?
Number of centimetres to a metre?
Number of millimetres to a metre?
Number of metres to a kilometre?
Number of grams to a kilogram?
Number of millilitres to a litre?

In contrast, all of these numbers are either 10, 100, or 1000. Not arbitrary at all.

THIS is why people are calling the imperial system arbitrary.
Not to mention one litre = one kilogram of pure water. This means that volume and mass are relatable too therefore densities can be calculated easily

When refueling an aircraft the fuel is supplied by the tanker in litres and the aircraft measures the fuel in Kg. You need to know the density of the fuel (which varies due to temperature and pressure). Its fairly easy to calculate as the density is roughly 0.7 (with respect to water being 1). This could be made even more difficult if land a european aircraft in america or vice versa. Boeing are known to be notorious as they use imperial whereas everything in the UK is metric. Theres actually been a case of someone converting it wrong (seen it on aircraft investigations) and the aircraft had to land early

#### Vivi22

##### New member
Full Metal Bolshevik said:
I think the main reason US doesn't change to Metric system is because it would cost millions to do so.

Still worth it more than spending it on military though.
Indeed. If they're going to fund a jobs program they might as well fund one that's main focus is on killing people in other countries and getting their own citizens maimed and killed.

rudolphna said:
I can agree that the metric system is better in almost all things, except temperature. Maybe it's because we are used to it, but if I go outside and it's oven roasting hot, it seems to make more sense to me to say "man, must be at least 100 degrees outside!" than to say "man must be at least 40 degrees outside!" etc
Imperial makes less sense with temperature because seemingly important benchmarks like 0 and 100 degrees don't coincide with anything that is relevant to daily life. Whereas having 0 be where water freezes and 100 where it boils makes more sense since water is a pretty standard fluid that everyone uses everyday for a variety of purposes including, but not limited to, making ice and cooking.

And trust me, when you get used to using Celsius, there is absolutely no doubt in your mind that 40 is really damn hot.

#### Vivi22

##### New member
drthmik said:
ar·bi·trar·y
&#712;ärbi&#716;trer&#275;/

1.
based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

Why the length of a pendulum swing?
Answer: Some guy in the 1600s thought it would be a good length

Why 1/10,000,000th the distance from the North Pole to the Equator along the meridian line passing through Paris?
why not London or New York?
Why not the circumference of the earth at the 22nd parallel? Or at the equator?
Why not 1/100,000,000th or 1/50,000,000?
Answer: Some guy though it would be a good length

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!?!

W H Y ! ? !

I'll tell you why
Some
guy
thought
it
would
be
a
good
length

And a lot of other people agreed
if they had not the meter would have vanished having never seen the light of day

You would say that he (and they) had good reasons to do it the way they did
well guess what

some guy thought a foot would be a good length
his reason was that there were too many different lengths and it was too ARBITRARY so he standardized it so that when one person said foot everyone knew what he meant
and map making
and Law
and construction
and many other things

Standardized Measurements are not universal truths no matter how you come up with them
they are practical language and culture
they exist to service understanding
and changing them all for no better reason than a bunch of guys in lab coats(who use the other system ANYWAY) find it EASIER is not a reason to confuse the language of a people for decades
If you look up, you'll notice the point sailing past your head.

#### talideon

##### New member
drthmik said:
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
It's not the length of the swing, it's the length of the pendulum. It doesn't matter so long as the period is the same.

drthmik said:
and pendulums swing at different speeds in different places
Yes, they can. That's why a more reliable mechanism was ultimately chosen, but the original pendulum measurement gave the initial measurement.

However, in a single location, pendulums have a very regular period.

drthmik said:
why a 1/2 swing of 1 second and not a full swing of 1 second?
Because he was proposing what's referred to as a 'seconds pendulum', which is an important kind of pendulum, as it's used in clocks, thus tying the measurement of time to that of length. Also, it was a 1/2 period, which is one swing. But even that doesn't matter: having a reliable derivation mechanism is what mattered.

drthmik said:
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
No. It comes down to this: the metre was intended to be derived from natural phenomena; the foot, on the other hand, was not. The actual *mechanism* used to find that can be wholly arbitrary just so long as the procedure for deriving it yields consistent results: the mechanism can be arbitrary without the measure being arbitrary.

Nobody wanted the original metre to be what we now recognise as a metre: they just wanted a reliable way to produce the measure that would always work so it wouldn't vary.

#### Thomas Oberhardt

##### New member
As an Engineering student, the Imperial system is the bane of my existence. We only use it because people are set in their ways and it would cost a lot of time and money to change it. That being said, we need to change it

#### Quaxar

##### New member
blackrave said:
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.

#### Alex Mac

##### New member
Nothing, really. The question is implementation. It's not terribly impractical but there's some large scale logistical things to consider. And costs. So it makes the country hesitant to consider changing it.

#### blackrave

##### New member
Quaxar said:
Thank you, apparently it wasn't stupidity, but rather incompetence (both mathematical and political)
I would like to believe that times have changed, but...

#### Idlemessiah

##### Zombie Steve Irwin
I'm from a fun land called the UK where:

We measure long distance and speed in miles but when it comes to smaller measurements like a room or your own height it can be in feet or metres depending on who wants to know.

We buy milk and beer in pints but pop, water, juice and petrol in litres. Nobody ever uses gallons though. Nobody buys liquids in a large enough volume to warrant using gallon as a unit any more, it's just a lot.

However metric has really taken over in weights. You cook using grams and millilitres. You smoke grams of tobacco. You drink millilitres of spirits. You lift kilograms at the gym. The only person who uses pounds, ounces and fluid ounces is your nan. Unless of course you're weighing yourself; then use stone.

And lastly a ton is 1000kg. But nobody can remember if ton or tonne is the metric one but either way its a lot.

#### Idlemessiah

##### Zombie Steve Irwin
EDIT: Triple captcha double post bonanza!

Also, as a scientist using metric does not stop me from succumbing to any of those British quirks I mentioned above.

#### LordLundar

##### New member
drthmik said:
Why the length of a pendulum swing?
Answer: Some guy in the 1600s thought it would be a good length
Umm no. It's a scientific calculation. The length of a meter is the length of a non-elastic string where a 1kg mass can swing from a 45 degree angle to straight down in one second. There is no guesswork or "I like it like that" behind it. Contrast to the foot which, prior to the metric system, fluctuated between people. One is scientific experimentation (and calibrated annualy) and one is "because it's my foot".

drthmik said:
Why 1/10,000,000th the distance from the North Pole to the Equator along the meridian line passing through Paris?
why not London or New York?
Why not the circumference of the earth at the 22nd parallel? Or at the equator?
Why not 1/100,000,000th or 1/50,000,000?
Answer: Some guy though it would be a good length

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?
All of those are referential definitions. The length of all of those you mention are defined by reverse engineering (a meter in reference to light speed for example is the reverse formula for calculating a light year as an example.) Though such definitions MAY (and I stress the may) be used for formulaic work in scientific research, they are not the proper definition as defined by scientific discovery.

drthmik said:
WHY!?!

W H Y ! ? !

I'll tell you why
Some
guy
thought
it
would
be
a
good
length

And a lot of other people agreed
if they had not the meter would have vanished having never seen the light of day
Those "lot of people" you mention were the scientists of the age who created a system based off scientific research and experimentation that would not fluctuate. This became the scientific standard BECAUSE it was unwavering and could be measured consistently.

drthmik said:
You would say that he (and they) had good reasons to do it the way they did
well guess what

some guy thought a foot would be a good length
his reason was that there were too many different lengths and it was too ARBITRARY so he standardized it so that when one person said foot everyone knew what he meant
and map making
and Law
and construction
and many other things
Go find someone who wears a size 5 shoe and someone who wears a size 12. Now tell me that those are the exact same length. Not going to happen.

You're convinced that the metric system was devised because a bunch of people grouped together and said "this looks about right" when that is not true.

drthmik said:
Standardized Measurements are not universal truths no matter how you come up with them
they are practical language and culture
they exist to service understanding
and changing them all for no better reason than a bunch of guys in lab coats(who use the other system ANYWAY) find it EASIER is not a reason to confuse the language of a people for decades
Standardized measurement ARE universal truths because they do not change. In fact, the current Imperial standards are even based on the metric system, otherwise they would change between person to person. Prior to the SI system, there was no method of accurate and consistent measurement. A measurement was decided through tradition (usually based around a royal figure, hence the term "Imperial") and only maintained through that tradition. When tradition changes, so does the measurement. the SI system is based on scientific research and experimentation and does not change unless the laws of physics themselves change.

SI and Metric is better not because it's easier for scientists, but because it's more accurate and consistent.

#### Maze1125

##### New member
Maze1125 said:
You only imagine it's easier because it's got the same name as the unit of mass
Actually, it does not.
Yes it does. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pound_%28mass%29]
Callate said:
To put it still another way- if you're looking for shoes that fit, would you rather go to a shoe store that offers small, medium, and large, or sizes one through fourteen?
The one that offers small medium and large but then is willing to break each of those up into categories of 10 if I want, and then those into even further categories of 10 until I am satisfied. Rather than the one that offers size 1 to 14 but refuses to categorise any more precisely when asked.

As for smaller units of degrees, I think you'll find that many scientists that study temperatures close to absolute freezing use them quite often, and scientists that study the cores of stars and other such things. It just isn't used in every day life because it isn't needed. You never need to know the temperature down to even 1 degree in every day life.
Think about it, when is the last time you ever cared about the difference between a temperature of 76 degrees and one of 77 degrees?

#### ViridianV6

##### New member
As someone has probably said before, Metric is more precise, but Imperial is easier to use when estimating. Also, I've found that Imperial measurements are used more in informal contexts i.e. telling your friends that you are 6' 3" but stating that you are 190cm when you are asked to fill out a physical.

As an Aussie, I rarely have trouble with either system as it isn't that hard to convert Metric units to the equivalent Imperial measurement, though I find Fahrenheit is more useful in applications for cooking.

But, I believe that the convenience of each system comes down to the user's familiarity of it, and that the existence of the either system isn't particularly detrimental to anyone.

#### Maze1125

##### New member
kiri2tsubasa said:
I'm sorry but I will NEVER accept the day month year system that the Europeans use. It makes no fucking sense at all. Seriously how does it make more sense to say "It is the 2nd of July 1998" as opposed to "It is July 2nd 1998"? Seriously explain that! Takes more time to say the d/m/y system.
Having a sensible way of writing the date down doesn't preclude you from saying it how ever you want.

Plus, the most sensible way of writing the date is YYYY/MM/DD anyway, that way you can line it up with the time and keep absolute descending order through successive time units: YYYY/MM/DD HH:MM:SS.

#### JarinArenos

##### New member
There's really no actual rational argument for the superiority of the Imperial system. It only exists through inertia. Thing is... it's a LOT of inertia. Craptons of inertia... just don't ask what units that's calculated in.