# Metric vs. other measurement systems - chart

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• Dec 28, 2020, 09:34 AM
mklotz
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nick79
When I taught Physics years ago we used metric - almost exclusively. Occasionally I needed to explain a concept using the "other" system to help a few students understand what was happening. I enjoyed challenging my students and once- tongue-in-cheek told them America was going to shift to "metric TIME" they didn't know what to do after that suggestion....

"Metric Time" is a misnomer. The unit of time in the metric system of measurement has always been the conventional second - 1/86400 of the rotational period of the earth.

However, during the French revolution, the French. in excessive eagerness to rid themselves of everything associated with the monarchy, introduced the concept of "Decimal Time". The day was to be divided into ten hours, each hour into 100 minutes and each minute into 100 seconds. This scheme was popularized briefly at the time of the revolution but never caught on outside France. Later, other schemes were tried including dividing the day into 100 hours with decimal divisions into minutes and seconds.

A more detailed description can be found in Wikipedia...

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

Decimal Time did last long enough for the clockmakers to make clocks that displayed it. This image from the above article shows one...

Attachment 37664

If you ever run across one in a garage sale, buy it no matter the price; they're worth a small fortune in the antique market due to their extreme rarity.
• Dec 28, 2020, 10:09 AM
hemmjo
Let us not forget about the gradian, also known as the gon. 1/400 of a turn, 9/10 of a degree, or pi/200.
• Dec 28, 2020, 11:14 AM
TheElderBrother
The Canadian "government", such as it is, actually distributed a metric clock to each household in Canada at one point, presumably so collectors would have something to ignore at flea markets.

I have an app on my phone that sounds bells according to ship's clock time. Really annoys my wife when she asks me what time I want to have dinner I tell her about midway through Second Dog Watch.

She smartened up, though. She went online and learned it so she could play back at me. "We have to leave the house no later than seven bells into Forenoon Watch."
• Dec 28, 2020, 02:25 PM
mklotz
Quote:

Originally Posted by hemmjo
Let us not forget about the gradian, also known as the gon. 1/400 of a turn, 9/10 of a degree, or pi/200.

Fortunately, it never became part of SI though. I've never seen it used here in the USA.

Worse are the machinists who term a thousandth of an inch a "mil".

One has to be careful with "mil" since it's one of the common terms for milliradians. an SI unit...

Also the artillery setters use it as an angular measure. However, to maintain the spirit of inferial confusion, they've "rounded" the 6283... milliradians in a circle to 6400. I suppose the (admittedly slight) error so induced is compensated with more explosive shells.
• Dec 28, 2020, 04:44 PM
Jon
Nice Simpsons bit on metric time.

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• Dec 28, 2020, 06:14 PM
rgsparber
Why is it that we cling to such an awful system of time? I guess it doesn't help that a year is not an integer number of days and a day is a variable number of hours, minutes, and seconds. We have been stuck with grouping 7 days together and calling it a week for many millennium. When we have colonies living outside of the earth, this system is going to make even less sense.

I have heard discussion of doing away with time zones. Now, wouldn't that be interesting.

I bought this watch a few years ago:

Attachment 37680

I was surprised how quickly I got used to it. However, switching between having one hand and two drove me nuts.

Rick
• Dec 28, 2020, 06:47 PM
Karl_H
Quote:

Originally Posted by rgsparber
I have heard discussion of doing away with time zones. Now, wouldn't that be interesting.
Rick

From my perspective, we don't really need them.
I have lunch time, nap time, dinner time and bed time!
And Marv, if I didn't lose a finger to the table saw, I would have to come up with another time!

(Just kidding - I still have all 10.)
• Dec 29, 2020, 04:22 AM
DIYSwede
Scored one of these odd looking things in a flea market in Moscow 1992:

Attachment 37682

Raketa #2623 , 24h "Submariner's watch" with major time zone cities marked on a rotatable inner ring.
Haven't used it since the nineties, as the glass cracked and I've not yet gotten around switching it...
Guess Marv would call it a "Tetravigesimal" watch? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaugel_language:)

Always fun to show people asking for the time... It is 9:41:33 a.m.
• Dec 29, 2020, 10:00 AM
mklotz
Quote:

Originally Posted by rgsparber
Why is it that we cling to such an awful system of time? I guess it doesn't help that a year is not an integer number of days and a day is a variable number of hours, minutes, and seconds. We have been stuck with grouping 7 days together and calling it a week for many millennium. When we have colonies living outside of the earth, this system is going to make even less sense.

I have heard discussion of doing away with time zones. Now, wouldn't that be interesting.

Why do we cling to outdated, over-complicated systems?

The major reason seems to be the Old-Fart Factor (OFF). OFFs are resistant to any change, often mysteriously claiming it's an intrusion on their freedom. This coupled with the old-stuff-is-always-better-than-new-stuff idea that is a product of change resistance seems to develop with age so society never loses its collection of OFFs. There will always be a cadre of OFFs shaking their fingers at any suggested change.

Sometimes the OFFs can be overcome. When Sweden switched from driving on the left to driving on the right in the 60s, some 80% of the people voted to not do it, yet it was accomplished in one day - a mind-boggling logistical effort. The British finally decimalized their impossibly complicated currency (though, despite pretending to be metric, they continue to measure distances in miles and beer in pints).

Beyond the OFFs, there is the dumbing-down factor (DDF ?). A population that can't read a ruler to better than inch precision is going to go into neural paralysis if faced with a 24 hour clock. Even time zones are a mystery to many people. When a large segment of the population believes in angels, devils, ghosts, aliens and a flat earth, convincing them to make logical changes doesn't stand a chance.
• Dec 29, 2020, 12:33 PM
mklotz
Quote:

Originally Posted by DIYSwede
...
Guess Marv would call it a "Tetravigesimal" watch? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaugel_language:)
...

Tetravigesimal doesn't have quite the ring I'd like.

I'd love to see a redneck trying to get his mouth around Octoquadragesimal. (Sounds like a eight-armed alien.)

OTOH, Quinquagesimal reminds me of Queequeg, Ahab's harpooner.

Heck, if you're going to pick a dumb base, it might as well sound cool. ;-)
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