Metric and Standard RulersDate: 04/20/2001 at 16:21:39 From: Janae Subject: Metric and standard rulers In the United States we only use a customary (standard) ruler, and in other parts of the world they use the metric side. Why is it that the United States just uses the standard side of a ruler? Date: 04/20/2001 at 22:42:57 From: Doctor Peterson Subject: Re: Metric and standard rulers Hi, Janae. I wouldn't quite say that we use _only_ the customary units; but the movement toward the metric system has been very slow here. That's just the nature of human systems: we have a lot of inertia. It's important to understand that at one time every country had its own system of units - and often several different systems. What we see in America, with two competing systems side-by-side as your ruler shows, is just a small remnant of what used to be the state of measurement worldwide. America isn't so different, just late in changing. In the rest of the world, it's the metric system that is "standard"; but they still have traditional units everywhere that are hard to forget. I've speculated that America's slowness to change in this area is due to several factors. We're a large country, geographically isolated from much of the world, so we can do things the way we want to without worrying too much about how the rest of the world wants them done. We have a large investment in technology based on the old units, so it would cost a lot to change over. We tend to think of ourselves as apart from the rest of the world, and do not want to follow anyone's authority but our own. But as the world grows more interrelated, and markets become worldwide, there will be more motivation to make more and more of our measurements metric. Here are a few sites that talk about this change: The Metric System in the United States, in How Many? -Russ Rowlett http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/usmetric.html http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/metric.html THE UNITED STATES AND THE METRIC SYSTEM, from NIST http://ts.nist.gov/WeightsAndMeasures/Metric/lc1136a.cfm Metric Land or: What I think of the metric system by Joan Pontius http://www.tysknews.com/Depts/Metrication/metric_land.htm - Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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