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Thread: A glimmer of hope

  1. #21

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    Absolutely WELL SAID. I have no problem with those that choose to use the imperial system and the same can be said for most imperial devotees. There is no need to critisize one or the other. Having been raised on and used the imperial system until Australia changed to the metric system, I can use either but much prefer the metric system.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyfoale View Post
    take pressure as another example. p.s.i is the common unit but the compatible unit should be poundal/sq. ft. so we need a conversion factor if we are using pressure in other calculations with other units. This conversion factor would be g/12^2. What an absolute mess?
    I wrote that passage yesterday in the hope that someone would spot the obvious error and pull me up on it. Nobody has, and that's a symptom of the problems of the system, very few people will spot if a conversion factor is right or obviously wrong. The conversion factor in this case should be g*12^2 not g/12^2 as I wrote. Just another example of the problems caused by the use of ad hoc imperial units, even experienced engineers get mixed up and confused with the weird conversion factors necessary.
    As Marv and I have pointed out the difference between the two systems goes way beyond the difference in length measurements. I am fairly ancient and grew up with the imperial system although I always used it with compatible units rather than the common ones to eliminate a huge potential for error. Never had to worry about where or whether to use g or how, nor apply nonsensical conversion factors. I changed to metric as soon I was made aware of its, in general, use of proper units.

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  4. #23
    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Stan View Post
    It's probably three decades ago when I wrote a letter to the editor of Popular Mechanics responding to a slur regarding the metric system. The heat I took was absolutely ridiculous. My patriotism was questioned along with my education (had a Masters at the time and taught machining at a vo-tech). Even the editor took issue simply saying "I don't like the metric system" or words to that effect. I had a lot of trouble understanding just how "educated" people could be so ignorant, and still do.

    Here we are 30 or so years later and the same issue is still around. All I can say is What The ____? Just how hard is it to stomp out ignorance?
    As is obvious from some of the responses in this thread, the resistance to metric borders on the irrational in many of the old guard who treasure tradition above utility.

    The only solution I can see is to teach metric exclusively in schools, enact laws to only label in metric, and then wait for the dinosaurs to die out.

    In my broadside I neglected to mention two other hollow arguments that crop up frequently...

    "I can't visualize what 25 mm looks like but I can visualize an inch." If you used metric measure daily, just how long do you think it would take to develop a feel for the system? Assuming some mental acuity, I would guess a few weeks. Certainly no longer than it took you to be able to visualize the size of a 'Q' drill.

    "I'm a homeshop guy and I'm not going to trade in all my inferial machines and retool just because we switched to metric." Do you really think anyone cares what you do in your home shop? Do you think a change in the way we label milk is going to force you to buy new tools?

    A common language on Earth would go a very long way toward cooperation and learning. For obvious reasons, it must be a new language, not one of the existing ones. Esperanto was designed with those constraints in mind. It's a good idea, but the irrational "I don't need no steenkin' metric" arguments are a bellwether of why a common language is a doomed concept.
    ---
    Regards, Marv


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  6. #24

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    Marv - Your essay covers a lot of valid points. I could get into the minutia of some; but would prefer to comment in general terms. I have two complaints with the metric system of measurement, complaints that arise out of my situation as an American.
    The first is immediate. In my life of making things and dealing with a variety of other parts of everyday life (housekeeping) the metric system and its local derivations are simply a nuisance. This week I'm in the middle of an effort to either quarantine or ID mark every metric piece in my shop with the color red (an old personal practice). Hex wrenches are a particular challenge. So too are the endless variations of metric threaded fasteners.
    The second issue I have with the metric system revolves around the long standing imperative in the world of science of uniformity in methods of measurement and taxonomy. There is a very evident (in the USA) departure in personal beliefs from proven science to the just so stories that support some other framework of understanding. This "alt facts" doctrine is helped along by a separate and unfamiliar "language" spoken by the proponents of scientific truth when a discussion involving numerical measurements arises. We do our democracy no favors when we encourage our logical thinkers to speak a strange language people don't understand.
    Some very current research into how our brains work suggests that we are hard wired to think in only the simplest of numbers and anything beyond that is learned behavior. I feel this lends credance to the concept that a measurement system is best tailored to a human scale and avoid base measurements like the meter, gram, pascal and newton none of which are easily visualized by the average person in everyday life or readily applied in small readily recognized numbers. While this concept seems unimportant one must recognize that the most disruptive human activities usually grow out of emotional behavior more likely guided by deep instincts rather than complex logical thought.
    Ed Weldon
    I am a longstanding believer in the concept of "if I can measure it I can make it". When the efficacy of numerical measurement comes into question the very foundation of civilization as we know it begins to crumble.

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  8. #25

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    I usually just use which ever side the of ruler comes up 1st,unless I am following a blueprint with a designated system of measurement. Maybe when humans move off world common system/language will evolve.In the meantime will just enjoy the nonsensical arguments and justifications metric/imperial,imperial/metric . Prejudice will show!!!

    Why hasn't the world/countries adopted METRIC money???? Hmmmm!!
    Last edited by rick9345; 06-04-2017 at 11:58 AM.

  9. #26

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    Hmmmmm. Marv and Tony make valid and eloquent rational arguments, as always, and I agree wholeheartedly with them. There are, however, significant areas where inertia rules:

    Metric time, anyone?

    hours per day
    hours : minutes : seconds
    days per week / fortnight / month / year
    light-years (a distance)

    How about angular measure?

    degrees : minutes : seconds
    degrees divided decimally
    grads
    radians

    I am comfortable with common imperial conversions, but the more esoteric units don't mean much to me - ergs, firkins, rods, chains, furlongs, Cape square roods, long tons, short tons, carats, etc. How about Oil barrels: - how many gallons? Whose gallon? Aviation uses feet for altitude, nautical miles for distance. Nautical charts show depth of water in fathoms.

    In my shop I measure with what I have available - a micrometer doesn't care whether your leadscrew is imperial or metric, and usually I'm making something the same size as something else. If I'm making something to my own sketch, I use metric.

    Personally, I like the metric system, but then I was fortunate to be taught it in school, and my apprenticeship occurred during the industrial transformation in my country.

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  11. #27
    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    In the 1700's the French tried to introduce decimal time - 10 hours of 100 minutes, each minute 100 seconds long per day...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decimal_time

    Obviously not the same hours and minutes we use. It was a grand failure and they quickly abandoned the effort. A very few clocks were built to this standard; they're worth a bloody fortune today in the antique market.

    There are obvious advantages to decimal time but they would only be realized if the whole world changed over and that isn't going to happen. Let's start by working on a simpler problem and promulgate the use of military time designation - the 24 hour clock.

    The year could stand some reshaping. All sensible ancient calendars put leap day at the end of the year to simplify calendrical calculations.

    Light-years make all kinds of sense. Intergalactic distances are so staggeringly large that we need an incredibly large measure to make discussion possible. Within the solar system light-minute is a better measure because distances are shorter. With our satellites, we're interested in knowing how long it will take for a control command to reach them. What we're really doing is measuring their distance in light-minutes.

    deg:min:sec is fine if you're an ancient Babylonian. Most analytic work and orbit computation is done in decimal degrees. Mathematics uses radians because it allows arc lengths to be calculated directly from the product of radius and the angle expressed in radians. For similar reasons the military uses their own butchered version of radians in directing artillery fire while target shooters use it in setting telescopic sights.

    Grads! In 30+ years in the aerospace industry, nobody ever asked me to calculate anything in grads and several of those years were spent working in Paris and Germany. Since I had no contact with this crazy unit, I can't offer an opinion.

    Barrels are one of my favorite inferial units.

    There are seven different barrel sizes used in the USA, with the size being dependent on the contents. Their names and metric equivalents are as follows: US cranberry (95.5 liters), US dry (115.628 liters), US liquid (119.24 liters), US federal (117.348 liters), US federal proof spirits (151.416 liters), US drum (208.4 liters), US petroleum (135 kg.), US petroleum statistical (158.99 liters).

    After all, if one definition of a unit is good, seven must be seven times better.
    Last edited by mklotz; 06-04-2017 at 04:58 PM.
    ---
    Regards, Marv


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  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Weldon View Post
    I agree with you guys a decimal measurement system is better than a system of numbers and letters with archaic meanings or fractions.
    But if you want to argue American (or whatever you want to call it) vs. Metric this is an argument I love. The Metric system is terrible in theory because it is based on a standard that is totally foreign to the human scale and experience (the distance from the equator to the North pole; which when adopted was impossible to measure). OK, we now have standards based on the wavelength of light so the measurement issue is solved as long as humanity retains the technology to make such accurate measurements. But note that it was only a century ago that America had to send a high speed warship to Europe to bring back sets of gauge blocks that insured we made munitions that were measured to the same standards as our European allies. Hopefully the Norwegians have a little cabinet in that seed bank in Spitsbergen where a few lab grade sets of gauge blocks are stored.
    I like measuring in mils. Sorry, I just don't want to deal with 3 digit pieces of millimeters when I have to hold close tolerances or tenths of a milimeter when spacing drilled holes. Besides I have only one metric vernier caliper and no such micrometers. (All those cheap digital things are in a box in my shop along with some dozens of corroded Chinese button batteries).
    And the metric thread systems? Don't encourage me to get started on that. Or metric construction materials.
    Oh yes. I'm a retired mechanical engineer. I trained and grew up in a world where everything we learned was measured in the American system.(1950' and 60's) Now all the engineers are trained in the metric system and that's all they use. Fine. I can handle that. But........... Nobody creates decent conversion charts anymore. They are all on their computers. And search for a decent conversion chart on the net and all you will find is conversion programs that cover the simplest types of measurements one at a time and leaves you to do a derivation if you want to convert some oddball engineering measurement in a product spec.
    Ed Weldon
    And then there is my biggest problem with metric stuff, I don't think in metric.

  14. #29

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    Totally agree with mklotz. Not holding my breath either. I wish they'd also discourage the use of the absurd drill size system. "For this hole, M drill, for that one a 51. Then a 7/64ths". None of those can be visualized in this bizarre system. I feel for the old timers who who "just got used to it" and can't/won't change . For me, a drill bit means diameter, decimal form, mm. I'm 77.
    Last edited by volodar; 06-04-2017 at 09:21 PM.

  15. #30
    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    This recurring implication that the metric system is bad because "I can't think in metric" seems very hollow to me.

    Imagine if I condemned CAD systems because "I don't think in CAD commands when I draw something". Folks who appreciate the benefits of CAD would jump all over me. You're condemning a widely-used utilitarian system because you refuse to spend a few weeks climbing the learning curve? How silly!

    A few weeks is probably longer than needed if one applies oneself. When I worked in Germany I had a car with, naturally, a speedometer calibrated in km/h. At first I would mentally translate km/h to mph but within a few days I could look out the window and estimate my speed within 5 km/h.

    The secret is total immersion. Adjusting to km/h was easy. All the speed limit signs were so-marked. Distances to destinations were shown in kilometers so estimating time to destination was easy if one had speed in km/h.

    Like most compromise solutions, trying to ease into metric by using the two systems side-by-side simply won't work. In fact, it can be downright life-threatening as Canada's Gimli glider incident proves...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimli_Glider

    Presented side-by-side, folks will continue to use the old system because there is no imperative to use the new. Adjusting will happen quickly when there is no alternative.
    ---
    Regards, Marv


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