Free 173 Best Homemade Tools eBook:  
Remove advertisements
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12

Thread: How pirates stole the metric system from America - photos

  1. #1
    Jon
    Jon is online now Jon has agreed the Seller's Terms of Service
    Administrator Jon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    12,793
    Thanks
    2,402
    Thanked 3,770 Times in 1,541 Posts

    How pirates stole the metric system from America - photos

    According to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), America almost adopted the metric system, were it not for some meddling British pirates in the Caribbean.

    In 1793, Thomas Jefferson sought to introduce the metric system in the United States (this process is called "metrication"). Jefferson requested measurement standards to be brought from France to implement metrication in the American states.

    The French and the Americans were best buddies at the time, while the British were still bitter over their loss in the American Revolutionary War - losing those 13 American colonies marked the end of what we now refer to as The First British Empire.

    Enter Joseph Dombey, a French botanist and physician, and the major participant in what we now call The Dombey Affair.

    Here's a bust of Dombey:



    To answer Thomas Jefferson's requests for measurement standards, the French sent Dombey, a respected scientist and explorer, to America. Dombey carried with him two standards made of copper: a standard measure of length (a meter), and a standard measure of mass (a kilogram, then called a "grave"). Dombey was to meet Jefferson in Philadelphia, and the meter and kilogram were to be introduced to the States as their measurement standards.

    Here's a centuries-old grave now owned by the NIST museum:



    Dombey's ship never made it to America. While in the Caribbean en route to America in 1794, it was boarded by pirates. The pirates were British privateers; they had tacit approval from the British government to plunder maritime vessels and keep a portion of the profit for themselves. Today we would call this state-sponsored terrorism, but in the 18th century, privateering was a common tactic in maritime life, openly utilized by various countries.

    When Dombey's ship was boarded by the pirates, he tried to disguise himself by quickly putting on the clothes of an ordinarily sailor, but he was outed by his unusual accent. The pirates imprisoned him on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, where he died. The ship's cargo, including the copper standards, was auctioned off. The standards eventually found their way into American hands, but by then, it was too late.

    I found this beauty on the NIST website. Looks like a creative NIST graphic designer has added a grave standard to a pirate flag, creating a fine flag for a metric rebel.




    More:

    https://www.nist.gov/blogs/taking-me...metric-edition
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric..._United_States
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grave_(unit)

    Previously:

    English/metric measurement error in the Mars Climate Orbiter

  2. The Following 19 Users Say Thank You to Jon For This Useful Post:

    Al8236 (01-25-2018), Captainleeward (01-29-2018), David Schwartz (01-24-2018), EnginePaul (05-31-2018), Frank S (01-26-2018), gunsgt1863 (01-27-2018), KustomsbyKent (01-24-2018), Moby Duck (01-24-2018), NortonDommi (01-26-2018), olderdan (01-28-2018), Paul Jones (01-24-2018), PJs (05-31-2018), Priemsy (05-30-2018), rlm98253 (01-24-2018), Seedtick (01-24-2018), sossol (01-24-2018), toma (01-24-2018), Toolmaker51 (01-24-2018), yvonf (06-21-2018)

  3. #2
    nhengineer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Posts
    106
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 27 Times in 15 Posts

    nhengineer's Tools
    Frankly Jon, I'm just as happy with Imperial measurement anyway but thanks for the interesting story.

  4. The Following User Says Thank You to nhengineer For This Useful Post:

    Trojan Horse (01-29-2018)

  5. #3
    NortonDommi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    North Island, New Zealand.
    Posts
    238
    Thanks
    502
    Thanked 105 Times in 78 Posts
    Jon,
    Fascinating stuff. Doubly interesting is that the American standards of today for many things Imperial are more accurate than the adulterated ones now outlawed in Britain. I use and like like both systems but if not,(according to a learned friend), for a deliberately introduced error of around 0.004995" in a meter when the Metric system was finalized swapping between the systems would be easy. This would apparently make the Metric system easy to ratio to all the ancient measurement systems,(which can be done with the Imperial system), and a lot of archaeology that is puzzled over by those using Metric would make sense.

  6. #4
    Carpenter & blacksmith Philip Davies's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Reading, Berks, UK
    Posts
    115
    Thanks
    51
    Thanked 205 Times in 62 Posts

    Philip Davies's Tools
    In what respects are the outlawed imperial standards adulterated? Are you perhaps aware of John Neale’s published works on metrology?

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to Philip Davies For This Useful Post:

    Priemsy (05-30-2018)

  8. #5
    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    LA, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,478
    Thanks
    101
    Thanked 2,763 Times in 955 Posts

    mklotz's Tools
    Quote Originally Posted by NortonDommi View Post
    Jon,
    ... if not,(according to a learned friend), for a deliberately introduced error of around 0.004995" in a meter when the Metric system was finalized swapping between the systems would be easy. This would apparently make the Metric system easy to ratio to all the ancient measurement systems,(which can be done with the Imperial system), and a lot of archaeology that is puzzled over by those using Metric would make sense.
    Do you have a reference for this? I'm particularly interested in learning how one introduces an "error" into a standard, since a standard is the, um, standard by which other things are measured.

    I'm also interested in how it interfered with identifying a ratio to other systems. Ratios are established by division and it's hard to see how one can "interfere" with arithmetic.
    ---
    Regards, Marv


    Home Shop Freeware
    http://www.myvirtualnetwork.com/mklotz

  9. The Following User Says Thank You to mklotz For This Useful Post:

    Priemsy (05-30-2018)

  10. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    56
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 19 Times in 17 Posts
    I personally like the metric system, and the imperial system. I did work with engineers from Russia and Romania and one of them asked me how in the world we could put up with fractional measurements. He said he had a hard time wrapping his head around it.
    I guess it's whatever you grew up with. As far as I am concerned, numbers are numbers. The only problem is that most of us Yanks have to have a set of metric tools and a set of SAE tools. Is that true with Europe and Asia as well?

  11. #7
    Priemsy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Posts
    22
    Thanks
    84
    Thanked 4 Times in 3 Posts
    [Q The only problem is that most of us Yanks have to have a set of metric tools and a set of SAE tools. Is that true with Europe and Asia as well?[/QUOTE]

    Yes unfortunately here in Australia. Metric is a much superior system.

  12. #8
    nhengineer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Posts
    106
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 27 Times in 15 Posts

    nhengineer's Tools
    Actually Owen, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) had exactly nothing to do with the creation of the Imperial (inch-foot-yard-mile-ounce-pound-ton) measuring system.

  13. #9
    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    LA, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,478
    Thanks
    101
    Thanked 2,763 Times in 955 Posts

    mklotz's Tools
    The USA uses what are termed United States customary units (USCU), which derive from the British Imperial system as described in this Wikipedia article...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United...ustomary_units

    A quote from the above article...

    Tools and fasteners with sizes measured in inches are sometimes called "SAE bolts" or "SAE wrenches" to differentiate them from their metric counterparts. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) originally developed fasteners standards using U.S. units for the U.S. auto industry; the organization now uses metric units.

    touches on the use of "SAE", which has become something of an unofficial, erroneous synonym for the more correct United States customary units.

    USCU is ponderous enough to argue strongly for a one word descriptor. I prefer my own portmanteau, inferial, a combination of infuriating and Imperial.
    ---
    Regards, Marv


    Home Shop Freeware
    http://www.myvirtualnetwork.com/mklotz

  14. The Following User Says Thank You to mklotz For This Useful Post:

    Priemsy (06-01-2018)

  15. #10
    nhengineer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Posts
    106
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 27 Times in 15 Posts

    nhengineer's Tools
    Quote Originally Posted by mklotz View Post
    The USA uses what are termed United States customary units (USCU), which derive from the British Imperial system as described in this Wikipedia article...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United...ustomary_units

    A quote from the above article...

    Tools and fasteners with sizes measured in inches are sometimes called "SAE bolts" or "SAE wrenches" to differentiate them from their metric counterparts. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) originally developed fasteners standards using U.S. units for the U.S. auto industry; the organization now uses metric units.

    touches on the use of "SAE", which has become something of an unofficial, erroneous synonym for the more correct United States customary units.

    USCU is ponderous enough to argue strongly for a one word descriptor. I prefer my own portmanteau, inferial, a combination of infuriating and Imperial.
    Thanks for that Mklotz.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •