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Metric for everyone!

Metric Power

Submitter: This is my fave…so out of date and wouldn’t he be surprised to see the MILES on speed limit signs etc. in the USA?!

Holly: We posted another book about metrication last summer, which you can read about here.  Any book from the early 1970’s that markets the coming of metrics needs to GO!  Even if it was the best idea ever, it didn’t happen.  For those who are interested in the history of how and why it didn’t happen, this is not the book for them.

Check out the sales pitch on the jacket flaps:

0 Responses to Metric for everyone!

  • I remember in grade school being taught the metric system and vaguely hearing something about another system, but not much was said about it (BTW I am Canadian)…
    anyway flash forward to our families road trip to Florida that summer. The news said it was 100 degrees in the shade. I was the most terrified 8 year old on the planet… for those who don’t know the metric system, look it up and you will understand.

  • It took me over 30 years but I am finally comfortable thinking in the metric system. Those km/hr and degrees C don’t bother me any more. Oh, wait…

  • I remember when soda bottles started to come in 2 liter bottles. I think that was the same time that most soda bottles converted from glass to plastic, and the new plastic ones had this weird cap on the bottom, to keep it stable. AFAIK, this is probably the only successful conversion to metric here in the US, even smaller bottles still use Imperial.

  • Here in the UK we evidently made greater strides towards metrication, but I have always believed it was very half-hearted.

    I’m in my late forties. When I first attended school, I was taught in feet and inches. By the age of about 7, they were teaching us centimetres and kilogrames… and yet, in everyday life people continued to used the old Imperial weights and measures.

    And so it continued FOR DECADES: schoolkids being taught in metric, but everyday life being run in imperial. Nobody seemed to consider how confusing this would be for a whole generation of kids.

    Finally, we have switched all measures to metric, at least for commercial purposes. So we buy milk by the litre [note spelling!] and cloth by the metre [ditto!]. But most people over, say, 45 continue to think and talk in the old measurements.

    Outside of commercial considerations, we still doggedly remain imperial. We drive at 30 mph, and all our roadsigns are in miles, with no suggestion that we will ever switch these to kilometres. And some newspapers persist in presenting weather forecasts in Fahrenheit. At least the major broadcasters have switched over to Celsius.

  • I’m Canadian too, and I’ve lived with the Metric system my whole life. If it weren’t for conversion calculators and websites, I couldn’t tell you the length of an inch or a mile. I do know that 4 litres makes a gallon, which comes in handy at times.

    • Then a Canadian gallon must be larger than a US gallon, because here in the states, 4 quarts make a gallon, and quarts are smaller than litres.

      • It might be. I grew up in the States, but my family is Canadian. I always remember my dad saying, when he was calculated the price of gas, that the Canadian gallon of gas was bigger than in the States. I always took him seriously, but now that I read this, I wonder if he was kidding. Time for some Google!

      • 4 quarts make a gallon which is 3.71 liters which is close enough to 4 liters to be a good approximation. 😉

  • “In 1976 California schools will begin teaching the metric system instead of the old one.”

    Maybe some schools did, but my father (who would’ve been in third grade in ’76) didn’t hear about the metric system until nearly two decades later when I came back from second grade cheering about how much I loved it. Still do, it was dead useful when I was the only American study abroad student who didn’t have to mentally convert everything in science courses.

  • Another Canadian here and metric is the system I’m comfortable in, although the old system is still part of my life. I think I slip between them depending on what I’m doing. Cooking with an American cookbook I need to switch, and such, but it works out.

  • You foreign invaders will get our yardsticks and gallons when you pry them from our cold, dead fingers!

  • Oh please go metric, US. I’d love to never have to convert a recipe ever again. 😉

  • The fact is that science does use the metric system, even in the US. Those of us who are American scientists use the metric system daily–and for that reason, I think schools still teach it in math and science. At least, I certainly hope so.

    Therefore, a practical book that teaches what the system is and what its units of measurement are would not be out of date. But books about how the US will be totally metric by 1980 would, of course, be passe!

  • I like how he talks about converting to metrication! If there was a Pope of Metrics, where would he be located? Is America more fundsmentalist than the rest of the world of measurement, or maybe Americans are just more agnostic about it…

  • I entirely endorse all that Phil said about the half-hearted metric “system” here in the UK. Everyone over 45 prefers Imperial. You ask for ‘a quarter’, ‘a half’ or ‘three-quarters’ of anything that’s measured out (meat, coffee, vegetables, expensive chocolates, whatever), i.e. a quarter of a pound… There was a huge fuss a few years ago when a greengrocer was prosecuted for only posting Imperial measure prices, he became a ‘Metric Martyr’ and was eventually forgiven, his fine withdrawn; this persecution being blamed on the European Union.

    One place where Imperial measures still rule is international aviation, thanks to the importance of the USA in every aspect of flying. Altitude (the height you’re flying and that of the airport above sea level) is given in FEET, distances are in MILES, speed in KIAS (Knots Indicated Airspeed), etc. I believe other European countries, especially France, use the metre measurements, but all British aviators prefer the old Anglo-American Imperial measures.

  • OMG, I just had a flashback to 7th grade, when we were told the that EVERYTHING in the US would soon be metric and we MUST learn and adjust. Inexplicably, the only area where it “took” was soda bottles. Go figure. (Or, if it’s not inexplicable, somebody please explain it to me.)

  • Being a chemist, my father was always a big fan of metric, so he was quite happy that I was learning it as a kid. I was in elementary school when they started teaching it, and back then the assumption was that “English” measurements would simply become extinct in a couple of years. I remember road signs cropping up in kilometers as well as miles, and weathermen announcing temperatures in Celsius. But then, instead of the English system fading away, metric just sorta disappeared. The rise and fall of metric in the US would make an interesting book itself, especially for us nostalgic GenXers.

  • Still waiting on this.

  • Here in Arizona, we do have an Interstate, I-19, that uses Metric signage. From Wikipedia: Interstate 19 is unique among US Interstates, because signed distances are given in meters (hundreds or thousands as distance-to-exit indications) or kilometers (as distance-to-destination indications), and not miles. However, the speed limit signs give speeds in miles-per-hour. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), metric signs were originally placed because of the push toward the metric system in the United States at the time of the original construction of the highway.

    However, they are slowly changing the signs out, to US customary units!