Metric/Imperial debate #1133046


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Postby mikli » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:42 am

EPelle wrote:Rather than get into the umpteenth imperial vs metric debate, let:s leave it at this: We who use metric will be able to cheer and clap long before those who don:t. Delayed gratification (imperial) ain:t all it:s cracked up to be.

Of course there is no reason to debate. The benefits of SI-units are so obvious that it does make any intelligent debate.
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Postby Alan Shank » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:51 am

Daisy wrote:I think it comes down to the power of the people as opposed to the power of the government. The UK switched to metric but if the people had been given a chance to vote on the issue, or the politicians monitored gallup polls, it would have never happened.

Just goes to prove that the people don't always know best. 8-)


Do you think many British track fans still translate into feet and inches?
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Postby SQUACKEE » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:56 am

[quote="gh"
This board caters to a broad audience, not just specialists. You're flogging a dead horse here people.[/quote]

3 cheers and 3 beers for GH. :D
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Postby Daisy » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:58 am

Alan Shank wrote:
Daisy wrote:I think it comes down to the power of the people as opposed to the power of the government. The UK switched to metric but if the people had been given a chance to vote on the issue, or the politicians monitored gallup polls, it would have never happened.

Just goes to prove that the people don't always know best. 8-)


Do you think many British track fans still translate into feet and inches?


No one under 45 would do it. I suspect many do in the above 50 years old bracket, although, nowhere near to the extent we see in the US.
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Postby Seeksreal » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:01 pm

gh wrote:
Yes, kids are increasingly comfortable with metric.... IN THEIR OWN EVENT.

American pole vaulters are very accustomed to thinking of their event metrically. Would they have any idea what a 17.02 in the triple jump means? If you asked them how far it was from their house to the corner in meters, could they just tell you?

Why would they need to? In a sports competition it is about a SCORE! There is little excitement in thinking about how far away from my front door someone would get in a triple jump. The true excitement lies in seeing the competition among athletes to beat the score. Pin ball, Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox etc. all have games based on scores which have no relevance in daily life, but still are exciting to follow for those who like the game. Until we start approaching T&F the same way, it will never become a big spectator sport here in the U.S. outside the OG. That is why we have to go metric, despite the obvious difficulty for the elderly to retrain their brains!
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Postby metric moron » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:33 pm

Seeksreal wrote:Why would they need to? In a sports competition it is about a SCORE! There is little excitement in thinking about how far away from my front door someone would get in a triple jump. The true excitement lies in seeing the competition among athletes to beat the score. Pin ball, Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox etc. all have games based on scores which have no relevance in daily life, but still are exciting to follow for those who like the game. Until we start approaching T&F the same way, it will never become a big spectator sport here in the U.S. outside the OG. That is why we have to go metric, despite the obvious difficulty for the elderly to retrain their brains!

Your logic is obscure, to say the least. In fact I'd go so far as to say it is specious.
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Postby Marlow » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:26 pm

mikli wrote: The benefits of SI-units are so obvious that it does make any intelligent debate.


Well, there's the disconnect right there. :roll:
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Postby bad hammy » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:33 pm

Marlow wrote:
mikli wrote: The benefits of SI-units are so obvious that it does make any intelligent debate.


Well, there's the disconnect right there. :roll:

I think Sports Illustrated pretty much uses Imperial marks exclusively . . .
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Postby BruceFlorman » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:52 pm

mikli wrote:Of course there is no reason to debate. The benefits of SI-units are so obvious that it does make any intelligent debate.

There are some powerful concepts provided by the metric system - like the explicit linking of the distance and volume units. I'll gladly grant that. But other aspects still leave me a bit cold, and which I suspect were adopted largely just so the French could give the finger to the old British Empire and not include any of the Imperial measures. I can't recall ever having heard a compelling reason to prefer the Celsius scale over Farenheit for example.

Image
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Postby metric moron » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:57 pm

BruceFlorman wrote:But other aspects still leave me a bit cold, and which I suspect were adopted largely just so the French could give the finger to the old British Empire and not include any of the Imperial measures.

One very humorous reason I find it hilarious that the Brits and Canadians are the biggest proponents of the metric system around here.
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Postby Daisy » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:34 pm

BruceFlorman wrote:I can't recall ever having heard a compelling reason to prefer the Celsius scale over Farenheit for example.


Because the definition of the farenheit scale is bizarre. And a degree on the Kelvin scale (the actual SI unit) is the same as a degree on the celsius scale.

metric moron wrote:
BruceFlorman wrote:But other aspects still leave me a bit cold, and which I suspect were adopted largely just so the French could give the finger to the old British Empire and not include any of the Imperial measures.

One very humorous reason I find it hilarious that the Brits and Canadians are the biggest proponents of the metric system around here.


Maybe its because we understand that the system sucks having had to live with that version too. Did you know the British gallon is different to the American gallon, and hence the volume of pints are different too?
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Postby mikli » Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:51 pm

Daisy wrote:Did you know the British gallon is different to the American gallon, and hence the volume of pints are different too?

You are in the heart of the problem. About every nation used to have their own measuring units based on everyday life. Unfortunately, they were not identical.

mikli wrote:The wide variety of different units caused a lot of trouble for scientist, who, at the late 1700s made the only right decision to create a uniform system of measurement. This was the origin of the metric system, later expanded to what is now called the International System of Units (SI). A major character in creation of the metric system was a French chemist, Antoine Lavoisier, a member of the French Academy of Sciences. To a great unfortunate, France and England were at war at that time. As a consequence of the war, England did not adopt the metric system, and thereby did not the US either. The consequences have been detrimental.


Also Finland had its owns. For example, our feet, jalka, was 29.69 cm, and our inch, tuuma, was 2.474 cm. Our mile was virsta, 1069m. We got rid them them at the late 1800s, nowadays none even considers using them. The SI-units are so much more practical in every way. In particular, they are that in science.
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Postby Kurt Francis » Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:29 am

Daisy wrote:
BruceFlorman wrote:I can't recall ever having heard a compelling reason to prefer the Celsius scale over Farenheit for example.


Because the definition of the farenheit scale is bizarre. And a degree on the Kelvin scale (the actual SI unit) is the same as a degree on the celsius scale.
Yes, however, Kelvin is the accurate measurement of actual temperature. As for Fahrenheit, it offers MORE precision of temperature measurement without having to resort to decimals!
metric moron wrote:
BruceFlorman wrote:But other aspects still leave me a bit cold, and which I suspect were adopted largely just so the French could give the finger to the old British Empire and not include any of the Imperial measures.

One very humorous reason I find it hilarious that the Brits and Canadians are the biggest proponents of the metric system around here.


Maybe its because we understand that the system sucks having had to live with that version too. Did you know the British gallon is different to the American gallon, and hence the volume of pints are different too?
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Postby BruceFlorman » Thu Jul 31, 2008 5:59 am

Daisy wrote:
BruceFlorman wrote:I can't recall ever having heard a compelling reason to prefer the Celsius scale over Farenheit for example.

Because the definition of the farenheit scale is bizarre. And a degree on the Kelvin scale (the actual SI unit) is the same as a degree on the celsius scale.

The word "compelling" was key, and I still haven't heard one. :D

If you want to go all "Mr. Science" on us, then why not just go ahead and adopt the Kelvin scale for everything? You think maybe it's because 99.9% of the human population would be put off by hearing "it's 290 °K today, so better wear a sweater"? Let's face it. For the vast majority of people in the world, temperature figures are useful primarily with regard to the weather.

Sure, I've got numbers on the dial on the front of my oven too. But for all I care, it could just say "low", "medium" and "high" and be just as useful. I doubt I'm alone in that opinion.

From a practical standpoint, the Farenheit scale does a pretty nice job of characterizing the temperature range that most human beings are likely to encounter normally. 0 °F is pretty cold, but most people experience it from time to time in their lives. 100 °F is pretty hot, but again, most people have experienced a hundred degree day at some point or another. The Celsius scale provides no compelling advantage that I can see.
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Postby Marlow » Thu Jul 31, 2008 6:06 am

BruceFlorman wrote:From a practical standpoint, the Farenheit scale does a pretty nice job of characterizing the temperature range that most human beings are likely to encounter normally. 0 °F is pretty cold, but most people experience it from time to time in their lives. 100 °F is pretty hot, but again, most people have experienced a hundred degree day at some point or another. The Celsius scale provides no compelling advantage that I can see.

I never thought about it before, but the F-scale is MUCH more human-centric. 0 is about as cold as anyone gets (and below-zero is a big deal) and 100 is about as hot as anyone gets (and above 100 is a big deal). Plus, the F-scale has a little more nuance with degrees equaling smaller units than C-degrees.
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Postby BruceFlorman » Thu Jul 31, 2008 6:50 am

Marlow wrote:I never thought about it before, but the F-scale is MUCH more human-centric.

Bingo!
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Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:02 am

Marlow wrote:I never thought about it before, but the F-scale is MUCH more human-centric.


Only from a weather perspective. Don't humans experience boiling water fairly frequently? What is the range of numbers that you feel makes a scale more user friendly? Personally, I see little difference between the celsius and farenheit scales in terms of usability from a non science perspective.
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Postby Mennisco » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:13 am

I still tare the scale at the gym to display in pounds, and it keeps saying "We don't do groups."

The single most appealing thing about using Imperial measurments in athletics is that they give us barriers, the surpassing of which provides opportunity for delight and celebration - not much of that left in this day and age of impossible world records and incremental metric advances.
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Postby Marlow » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:23 am

Daisy wrote:Only from a weather perspective. Don't humans experience boiling water fairly frequently? What is the range of numbers that you feel makes a scale more user friendly? Personally, I see little difference between the celsius and farenheit scales in terms of usability from a non science perspective.

Do you care what temperature water is when it boils? Not really. Our world only 'exists' (I don't mean that in the pure existential sense) as we perceive it by our senses, so 0-100F is perfect. Everything above and below that is not something we experience; it's just a number. Science doesn't matter in this sense, because to science any number is good, so all that matters is how WE deal with it. Sure Celsius is 'better' because of its transposition into other measurement scales, but the computer that calculates them doesn't care what scale it's in either. :D
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Postby imaginative » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:28 am

What it boils down is that different people grew up with different
systems, and many of them are reluctant to adapt to something else.

Meters are not inherently better than feet, nor Celsius better than
Fahrenheit---and vice versa. Running a debate on a superiority basis
will lead nowhere. An incidental argument pro-meter is its greater
international acceptance. (Note that the foots used earlier
internationally had a variety of sizes.)

I would suggest a few general guidelines:

1. Results are always measured and _officially_ kept in metric: This is
consistent with how measurements are done outside of the US and, in my
impression, what many US competitions already do. It ensures that only
one conversion with rounding ever takes place. Easy comparisons
between and keeping of statistics lists is possible.

2. Results are _reported_ in the most appropriate form based on the
reader group, or in both systems. In the case of mixed readership, as
with TFN, results are always reported in both systems. Readers are
kept happy, and may over time gain a better grasp of the alternate
system.
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Postby JRM » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:29 am

Marlow wrote:I never thought about it before, but the F-scale is MUCH more human-centric. 0 is about as cold as anyone gets


The people of North Dakota and Wisconsin would beg to differ with you. I think you mean the imperial temperatures are "Floridian-centric". :)

And don't forget the other benefit of the SI system: metric beers. Double it, and add 30. So, a 6 pack of American beers becomes 6x2+30 = 42 beers! See why Canadians switched? Take it from the experts:

http://www.losergeek.org/~niklas/boband ... rcbeer.wav
Last edited by JRM on Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:40 am

imaginative wrote:Meters are not inherently better than feet, nor Celsius better than Fahrenheit---and vice versa. Running a debate on a superiority basis will lead nowhere. An incidental argument pro-meter is its greater international acceptance. (Note that the foots used earlier internationally had a variety of sizes.)


Right. The SI system is about everyone using the same units. For the same reason the Euro is preferred in Europe. As usual the Brits are slow to switch to that standard too.



How did you know about that link? Hilarious.
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Postby Marlow » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:37 am

imaginative wrote:Meters are not inherently better than feet,

Make no mistake about it, I WISH the USA had been metric all along and I did not have to deal with feet, inches and fractions (1/4, 1/2, 3/4) of an inch; they really are a pain in the butt, but to use the cliche of the decade, it is what it is, and shall continue to be what it is for the short-term foreseeable future at least. :?
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Postby Mennisco » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:44 am

imaginative wrote:Meters are not inherently better than feet


Image

Image
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Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:51 am

Marlow wrote:Make no mistake about it, I WISH the USA had been metric all along


The irony is that you were one of the original 20 signatories of the "Treaty of the Meter".

But you are now one of only three countries (along with Liberia and Myanmar) that rejects metric as a standard (except in science).
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Postby bad hammy » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:07 am

Daisy wrote:But you are now one of only three countries (along with Liberia and Myanmar) that rejects metric as a standard (except in science).

And liquor distribution . . .
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Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:09 am

bad hammy wrote:
Daisy wrote:But you are now one of only three countries (along with Liberia and Myanmar) that rejects metric as a standard (except in science).

And liquor distribution . . .


Even liquor made in the US? Now you mention it, I think Coca Cola sells in liters. Why have they not been boycotted? :P
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Postby bad hammy » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:16 am

Daisy wrote:
bad hammy wrote:
Daisy wrote:But you are now one of only three countries (along with Liberia and Myanmar) that rejects metric as a standard (except in science).

And liquor distribution . . .


Even liquor made in the US? Now you mention it, I think Coca Cola sells in liters. Why have they not been boycotted? :P

As far as I know, beer is the only adult beverage distributed by the ounce. US wines and harder stuff is sold by liter-based volumes.
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Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:24 am

bad hammy wrote:
Daisy wrote:
bad hammy wrote:
Daisy wrote:But you are now one of only three countries (along with Liberia and Myanmar) that rejects metric as a standard (except in science).

And liquor distribution . . .


Even liquor made in the US? Now you mention it, I think Coca Cola sells in liters. Why have they not been boycotted? :P

As far as I know, beer is the only adult beverage distributed by the ounce. US wines and harder stuff is sold by liter-based volumes.


Makes sense if the goal is to export the products. Likewise, I assume GM make right hand drive vehicles when exporting to Japan, Britain, Australia etc.
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Postby mikli » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:09 am

BruceFlorman wrote:The word "compelling" was key, and I still haven't heard one. :D

Then it’s about time to hear. There are compelling reasons for the use of Celsius. Scientists, of course, prefer Kelvins, but they can cope very well with Celsius too and it is frequently used in scientific literature. This is just a question of normalization: where lies the zero. Both Celsius and Fahrenheit are based on the phases of water, the basic ingredient of life. Fahrenheit places the melting point of ice to 32, Celsius places it to 0. Fahrenheit places the boiling point of water to 212, Celsius places it to 100. Because of this, and because the scaling of Kelvin and Celsius is the same, Celsius is compatible with the SI units. It is a SI derived unit, Kelvin being the base unit. Fahrenheit is neither a base unit nor a derived unit.

Then why Celsius (SI derived unit) instead of Kelvin (SI base unit)? The answer becomes evident from practical consideration, i.e. from the same arguments the Fahrenheit-defenders use. Kelvin places zero to the absolute zero, which is quite far from the temperatures we encounter in everyday life. Talking about room temperature, it is obviously more practical to talk about 25 than about 298.15. Celsius is excellent for weather, because it places the melting point of ice to zero. As a consequence, a minus-sign in front of the number means that it’s freezing: Water pours down in the form of snow. In Finland, for example, the temperatures typically range between -30 and 30, definitely practical.

For those not familiar with Celsius, a poem may help:

Thirty is hot
Twenty is nice
Ten is cool
Zero is ice
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Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:43 am

mikli wrote:Both Celsius and Fahrenheit are based on the phases of water, the basic ingredient of life.


Although it is a little more complicated. Freezing (32) and boiling (212) points of water are by definition 180 degrees apart. But why start at 32? The answer is that Farenheits original defined points had nothing to do with water. He defined zero as the temperature of a specific mixture of ice, water, and ammonium chloride. The other reference point was body temperature defined at 96.

Using Farenheits original scale the freezing point of water is 32 and the boiling point of water was close to 180 degrees higher. So the Farenheit scale got redefined to have exactly 180 degrees between the freezing and boiling points of water. With the new scale body temperature is now 98.6.
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Postby mikli » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:56 am

Yes Daisy, I was aware of that, just tried to make it simple (perhaps too simple).

Thanks for the clarification.
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Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:58 am

mikli wrote:Yes Daisy, I was aware of that, just tried to make it simple (perhaps too simple).

Thanks for the clarification.


I suspected you knew, just trying to clarify what a real mess the imperial units are with respect to logic and consistency.
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Postby Marlow » Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:11 am

Daisy wrote: He defined zero as the temperature of a specific mixture of ice, water, and ammonium chloride. The other reference point was body temperature defined at 96. Using Farenheits original scale the freezing point of water is 32 and the boiling point of water was close to 180 degrees higher. So the Farenheit scale got redefined to have exactly 180 degrees between the freezing and boiling points of water. With the new scale body temperature is now 98.6.


I'm sorry, but all that makes NO SENSE whatsoever. Now I've done an about-face and I hate all things Imperial!! :twisted:
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Postby Daisy » Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:14 am

Marlow wrote:
Daisy wrote: He defined zero as the temperature of a specific mixture of ice, water, and ammonium chloride. The other reference point was body temperature defined at 96. Using Farenheits original scale the freezing point of water is 32 and the boiling point of water was close to 180 degrees higher. So the Farenheit scale got redefined to have exactly 180 degrees between the freezing and boiling points of water. With the new scale body temperature is now 98.6.


I'm sorry, but all that makes NO SENSE whatsoever. Now I've done an about-face and I hate all things Imperial!! :twisted:


I knew you'd come around 8-) How long before the US switches to the euro? Or will you be forced to use ren min bi?
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Postby EPelle » Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:18 am

That was a sad state of affairs five years ago when we said "no" to the €uro.
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Postby gh » Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:47 am

Daisy wrote:[...
I suspected you knew, just trying to clarify what a real mess the imperial units are with respect to logic and consistency.


Which is completely true, but also completely irrelevant to our original discussion here. You'd be hard put to find a language less logical and consistent than English, yet we stick with it. Becuase it's what we know.

The use of imperial measure here follows the same yardstick. It's what the (vast) majority of the readers of this board understand. And that's the only parameter that matters.
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Postby dj » Thu Jul 31, 2008 12:12 pm

jeremyp wrote:
Seeksreal wrote:
Marlow wrote:
Seeksreal wrote:
gh wrote:4.77 = 15-7¾
4.83 = 15-10
4.88 = 16-0
4.93 = 16-2

Does anyone really need or care about this translation here?

Yes. 99% of all Americans.

But surely not the T&F fans who are dedicated enough to read this board!!!


Absolutely not! I know 5m is 16'5, and 2.5 cm is one inch. Then I do the math in my head, and ten minutes later I'm within an inch or two!!! 8-)


But to throw the extra fly in the ointment, 5.00 is 16-5 in the long jump, but only 16-4 3/4 in the pole vault. So what we know isn't always what we think it is! (~)
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Postby Marlow » Thu Jul 31, 2008 12:18 pm

dj wrote:5.00 is 16-5 in the long jump, but only 16-4 3/4 in the pole vault.

Yeah, but that's only because Long Jumpers ain't as bright as Pole Vaulters and can't do fractions. Plus they have inflated egos and want more for their efforts.
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Postby mikli » Thu Jul 31, 2008 12:34 pm

gh wrote:The use of imperial measure here follows the same yardstick. It's what the (vast) majority of the readers of this board understand. And that's the only parameter that matters.

I believe it serves the (vast) majority of the readers of this board to make them more familiar with the SI-units.
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