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

#### blaize2010

##### New member
Well, the tip of your thumb is about an inch, so it's nice to be able to shorthand measure things. That's about all I've got though.

#### lacktheknack

##### Je suis joined jewels.
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
On our vacation to Hawai'i, you have no idea how much this tripped us up.

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/10_day_forecast.png

#### MorphingDragon

##### New member
Kalezian said:
Because I would rather say I was 6'4" or 76 inches instead of saying I'm 193.04 centimeters tall.

That just makes me sound tall as fuck.....
1.9m also makes you sound tall as fuck.

Maybe its because you are tall as fuck. I'm 6'and already seem tall as fuck compared to most other people.

#### Xanarch

##### New member
Having flipped back and forth between school in Europe and the US, I bake in grams and weigh myself in pounds, measure distance in miles and do carpentry in centimeters, drink pints of beer and take cough syrup in millilitres (and don't get me started on US vs British spellings), wear a sweater at 10C and shorts at 80F. Metric is great for precision and imperial is nice (for me at least) for knowing how big something is. There is something insane about a system that requires a person to know how many gills are in a hogshead when used for scientific purposes, but it's rather charming, in an archaic fashion, when used discussing Jules Verne over a flagon of ale. I also find it amusing that the cost of switching to metric would be expressed in a decimalised currency. Should it not be quoted in guineas?

My grandmother lived through three currency changes, currency decimalisation and the switch to metric and she still knew at 90 that she wouldn't pay ?2 for 500 grams of bruised tomatoes. People can adjust to pretty much anything.

Added xenophobia, just for laughs: Yanks use imperial because they beat the Brits, so they feel they've earned it; the metric system is French, and there's no way they're buying their Freedom Fries by the gramme. Damned if we Irish will ever accept the US pint though - 473 mL vs 568 mL?? Now yer just taking the piss.

#### Vegosiux

##### New member
drthmik said:
Look at that
Wikipidia agrees with you! sort of...

"The metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1 / 299,792,458 of a second."

... Wait that's not divisible by 10
On that point, I've often said that inventing an entirely new metric system, stil a decimal one, but with quantities defined so that all natural constants would be simply some power of ten instead would be kind of awesome.

Say, the speed of light defined to 10^8 bloits/second, so one bloit would be the distance light travels in 0.00000001 seconds.

I'm sure it would also be fun to calculate the average airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow in bloits.

##### New member
drthmik said:
drthmik said:
Really it's all arbitrary anyway!
a Meter is just a length of a rod based on some BS reason, same as a foot or a yard
Truth is we couldn't care less what stick you use to measure with
both work equally well and do a fine job of measuring things

so here's the REAL question;
Why do you Europeans get so bent out of shape that we Americans don't use your arbitrary definitions of measurement?
Actually, the meter is defined using the speed of light, it is a decidedly non arbitrary constant.

In fact, the only SI unit that is not tied to a universal constant of some kind is the Kilogram, and that is only due to a lack of easy measurements to link it to
Look at that
Wikipidia agrees with you! sort of...

"The metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1 / 299,792,458 of a second."

... Wait that's not divisible by 10

And since meters were developed by the french after the french revolution you can't say that the meter is BASED on the speed of light
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_metre
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light

and light travels 1 foot in 1 nanosecond
so what?
You carve up the distance light travels into a certain number of chunks
We cave it up into a different number of chunks
that is the definition of arbitrary
Uh, you seem to have missed a detail when you asked wikipedia about this, namely "Its value is exactly 299,792,458 metres per second, a figure that is exact because the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time"

Meanwhile, the foot comes from a variety of different sources. Before it was standardized as exactly one third of a yard (which in turn was arbitrarily declared to be 0.9144 meters in an agreement between various countries, this value was a rounded average of the previous ratios), the measure of a foot varied by as much as 3 to 4 inches

P.S. light travels approximately 0.98357105643 feet in one nanosecond, the exact value is a nonrepeating decimal that goes on forever, they just rounded up for your convenience.

#### Maze1125

##### New member
Vegosiux said:
I'm sure it would also be fun to calculate the average airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow in bloits.
African or European?

##### New member
I only really tend to use imperial for things like weight, where the advantages of metric are irrelevant for anything non-technical.

For example, if I'm thinking to myself..

I weight 89 kg.

Okay, how heavy is a kilogram?

1000 grams.

Alright... How heavy is a gram?

1000 milligrams.

Great, how heavy is that?

I don't fucking know, I have no sense of what these weights actually are. The words mean nothing to me beyond the numbers.

It's great for math, but as for as having any conceptual sense of those weights in my head, I've got nothing. Now, Imperial measurement isn't any better with this, but having grown up talking about weight in 'pounds', I have a sense of how heavy a given number of pounds actually is. So, yes it sucks, but the only advantage of metric is in math, and since I don't need any complicated math in my life for weight, metric holds no benefit to motivate me into switching.

#### Luke Bean

##### New member
The differences between imperial and metric just don't matter for most everyday purposes. Obviously the metric system is dramatically superior for anything involving science or engineering, but most people don't deal with that on an everyday basis, and Americans who do all use the metric system for it anyway.

For several common uses, imperial works well BECAUSE it's slapped together based on measurements humans can readily grasp. Using both feet and inches for height rather than just centimeters is sort of like pinpointing where you are in the year using both months and days rather than just saying "it's the 212th day of the year"-- the feet / months give us a sense of the general scale, and the inches / days make it more precise.

Volume measurements are simpler for keeping track of cooking ingredients. "Two cups of flour, half cup of sugar, and a teaspoon of baking soda" is simpler than keeping track of measurements in milliliters.

These advantages are pretty trivial, of course, and the real reason America uses imperial measurements is inertia. Theoretically, use of imperial measurements could cause illiteracy in metric, causing a disadvantage in scientific education. But in practice it doesn't really seem to have had that effect. American science and engineering are still very well developed, and as far as I can tell most Americans can use both systems. Making the switch seems like more pain than it's worth.

#### MorganL4

##### Person
Well the US was GOING to switch to the metric system with everyone else back when Thomas Jefferson was president. He even sent a representative to a scientific meeting in France where the whole idea was being put forth. But then the US representative sent the measuring units to New York on one ship, and chartered a different one for himself. The ship he was on got stuck in the Caribbean. I can't remember if it was disease that killed him, or natives but the end result was that the measuring units showed up in New York where there was going to be a scientific presentation on them, but because the guy who was going to explain what they were didn't show up (for lack of being alive) they were sent off to an auction house... So ended the US flirtation with metric.

#### drthmik

##### New member
Vegosiux said:
drthmik said:
Look at that
Wikipidia agrees with you! sort of...

"The metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1 / 299,792,458 of a second."

... Wait that's not divisible by 10
On that point, I've often said that inventing an entirely new metric system, stil a decimal one, but with quantities defined so that all natural constants would be simply some power of ten instead would be kind of awesome.

Say, the speed of light defined to 10^8 bloits/second, so one bloit would be the distance light travels in 0.00000001 seconds.

I'm sure it would also be fun to calculate the average airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow in bloits.

LOL that would be hilarious!
But seriously the speed of light HAS NO MEANING in every day life
every measurement is just a stick of a length that everyone agrees is that length
Celsius is based on 0 being the freezing point of fresh water
Fahrenheit is based on 0 being the freezing point of Sea Water (and being from a northern state it is rather convenient knowing that around 0 degrees salt won't melt the ice on the roads anymore)

Yet it all has nothing to do with science or math
it's culture

as a culture we have agreed that we will use feet and miles and degrees Fahrenheit and pounds and gallons for our measurements. Then along comes France and later the rest of Europe saying YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR CULTURE TO MEET OUR STANDARDS!
As Americans, our gut reaction to that as a culture has long been; "Fuck You! We don't HAVE to do anything you say!"
truth is we probably would have switched all on our own LONG ago had Europe just quietly used their metric system and allowed us to figure out it's superiority for ourselves. We were well on our way! When I was in school Metric was the only measurement used in my middle school. they had completely switched over and had to switch back a few years after I was in High School so that kids could also learn the Imperial system they HAD to know to FUNCTION in society!

but they had to push it, force it, insist we follow them. Mock us for being different. call us stupid or ignorant or backwards.
Now? We'll almost certainly NEVER change
Why?
Fuck you that's why
And I find the whole situation HILARIOUS! XD

#### quantumsoul

##### New member
The only advantage is being able to get approximate measurements without a measuring device. Using cups for cups and feet for feet. Otherwise I think it just makes us Americans look a little backwards.

##### New member
It would probably save a lot of time if we wrote documents in Japanese. It takes less words on average to communicate the same idea than saying something in English(at least from what I've studied of it so far).

Though it'd be pointless sense everyone already is use to one and not the other. Math units are just as arbitrary.

#### SacremPyrobolum

##### New member
Absolutely jack all, it's just that changing over will be far too expensive and disruptive to commerce, industry, sciences etc, etc...

#### TK421

##### 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.
Let's start with the obvious advantage of the metric system, as that it is not only the international standard, but also the System of SCIENCE (Which kinda is an instant win right there).
It's easy to calculate with and is just perfect for Mathmatics, Physics and so on.
I heard from some people that the imperial system is easier to use in day to day life, but i can't see why.
It's obviously better in day to day life, if you have grown up with it and used it your entire life.
But if we look at both systems and how we would use them in day to day life, i still think the metric system to be far superiour.
First of all, you just have to learn 3 units of measurement. Meter, gramm and litre. Any larger or smaller units you might need, you just use the appropriate word before it. kilo for a thousand, mega for a million and so on.
In the imperial system you got yards, feet, miles, pinch, pounds, tons and so on, and so on.
It's just way more to memorize, for practically no benefit in day to day life.
Well, first of all, I don't care about SCIENCE, but I do agree with your other points. The metric system is much easier to use and makes more sense, but I grew up with the imperial system and I can easily eyeball all of the units. Since the imperial system is still far more widely used here, I will continue to use it as it is just easier for me personally at this point in time.

#### SacremPyrobolum

##### New member
Atmos Duality said:
Apart from a couple of handy conversions, there's not much that's all that great.
As a meteorologist, (mostly Celsius, though it's not like it's hard to convert between the two since they have the same degree ratio)
Oooooo! Are you on local TV. You must be, like, a celebrity or something!

#### hermes

##### New member
drthmik said:
Really it's all arbitrary anyway!
a Meter is just a length of a rod based on some BS reason, same as a foot or a yard
Truth is we couldn't care less what stick you use to measure with
both work equally well and do a fine job of measuring things

so here's the REAL question;
Why do you Europeans get so bent out of shape that we Americans don't use your arbitrary definitions of measurement?
All of them are arbitrary, but the point of difference is what you do with it and how using them helps you.

For every measure in the metric system, to express it in the immediately next unit you only have to multiply or divide it by ten, always. Just move the decimal point... simple. For the imperial system, if you want to express a distance to the next scale, you have to multiply it by 1/12 (inches to feet), 1/3 (feet to yards), 1/220 (yards to stadia) or 1/1760 (yards to miles)

#### Hero of Lime

##### Staaay Fresh!
Honestly, does it really matter? We use different languages, laws, and a whole lot of other systems, what is one more added onto the pile. Even if metric is better/more convenient, (I'm not sure, nor do I care) if imperial is still perfectly functional, why bother changing it? It's like saying "our language is easier to speak, and more people use it, so you should stop speaking yours, and speak the correct way."

This response may sound like I really care about the debate, but I don't. I just feel like the sentiment sounds condescending and and petty.

#### SacremPyrobolum

##### New member
drthmik said:
Really it's all arbitrary anyway!
a Meter is just a length of a rod based on some BS reason, same as a foot or a yard
Truth is we couldn't care less what stick you use to measure with
both work equally well and do a fine job of measuring things

so here's the REAL question;
Why do you Europeans get so bent out of shape that we Americans don't use your arbitrary definitions of measurement?

Edit: I'd also like to point out that by simply doing nothing we can piss off millions of people and that amuses us to no end! XD
Well, speaking as an American I can see why it would make more sense for a system to be based off of multiples of ten rather than having a different amount of numbers needed to make it to the next tier of measurment.

Also, having only three words to represent the base types of measurement (gram, meter,liter) with universal sufixes applied to each makes a lot more sense than the mish-mash of Imperial terms used to define thing (an inch is in a yard is in a mile).

A lot easier to work with for the sciences and would be more than adequate for everyday life if you get a sense for how big a meter is.

#### SacremPyrobolum

##### New member
hermes200 said:
drthmik said:
Really it's all arbitrary anyway!
a Meter is just a length of a rod based on some BS reason, same as a foot or a yard
Truth is we couldn't care less what stick you use to measure with
both work equally well and do a fine job of measuring things

so here's the REAL question;
Why do you Europeans get so bent out of shape that we Americans don't use your arbitrary definitions of measurement?
All of them are arbitrary, but the point of difference is what you do with it and how using them helps you.

For every measure in the metric system, to express it in the immediately next unit you only have to multiply or divide it by ten, always. Just move the decimal point... simple. For the imperial system, if you want to express a distance to the next scale, you have to multiply it by 1/12 (inches to feet), 1/3 (feet to yards), 1/220 (yards to stadia) or 1/1760 (yards to miles)
This guy put my point across a lot more clearly.