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|Subject: There's a reason for that...|
Ed Harris (London)
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Date Posted: 17:07:13 11/14/04 Sun
In reply to: Ian (Australia) 's message, "we went metric in Australia in the 70s" on 13:38:30 11/14/04 Sun
The metric system is based on something abstract: scientific purity. A metre is the exact wavelength of light bouncing of a lump of sodium at a certain temperature (or something like that - I don't pretend to understand), whereas, before we could make such accurate measurements, we had to do with likening a distance to real, tangible things... an inch, the width of a thumb; a foot, obviously; a yard, the distance between nose and finger-tips of a horizontally-held arm; a furlong, previously a 'farrow', the distance which an ox could pull a plough before needing a rest; etc. etc. They are all things to which the mind can readily relate, and so they are much better for use as imagery, and, consequently, in every-day life. I defy anyone to use a gramme (the weight of one cubic centimetre of water) to describe something ordinary. "God, that thing weighs half a ton!" is vague and approximate...
...But, metric is precise, unarguable, and thus better for science. "Mon dieu, that thing weighs four and a half thousand grammes!" necessarily is more specific but less useful in conversation.
Perhaps, then, I should withdraw my objection to using the two systems side-by-side, and instead suggest that we confine one to science and the other to ordinary situations.
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Date Posted: 18:55:42 11/14/04 Sun
No scientist has used Imperial Measures since the 19th Century.
As I said before, if measurement powers are devolved, then each region can decide for itself. Australians can stick with what they use, we can stick with what we use.
Obviously, on food products and so forth, we'll need a standard - but that's already metric here anyway.
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