History and Origination of the Metric SystemDate: 08/13/2005 at 11:41:31 From: Bob Subject: Who invented the metric system? Who invented the metric system? Date: 08/13/2005 at 23:17:51 From: Doctor Peterson Subject: Re: Who invented the metric system? Hi, Bob. There are several people who might be called the inventor of the system. If you go to google.com and search for history "metric system" you will find several histories, such as this: A chronology of the SI metric system http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/dates.htm which says 1670: Authorities give credit for originating the metric system to Gabriel Mouton, a French vicar, on about this date. 1790: Thomas Jefferson proposed a decimal-based measurement system for the United States. France's Louis XVI authorized scientific investigations aimed at a reform of French weights and measures. These investigations led to the development of the first "metric" system. For more detail, see A Brief History of Measurement Systems http://www.brocktonmass.com/weights/history.html which says The need for a single worldwide coordinated measurement system was recognized over 300 years ago. Gabriel Mouton, Vicar of St. Paul in Lyons, proposed in 1670 a comprehensive decimal measurement system based on the length of one minute of arc of a great circle of the earth. In 1671, Jean Picard, a French astronomer, proposed the length of a pendulum beating seconds as the unit of length. (Such a pendulum would have been fairly easily reproducible, thus facilitating the widespread distribution of uniform standards.) Other proposals were made but over a century elapsed before any action was taken. In 1790 in the midst of the French Revolution, the National Assembly of France requested the French Academy of Sciences to "deduce an invariable standard for all the measures and all the weights." The Commission appointed by the Academy created a system that was, at once, simple and scientific. The unit of length was to be a portion of the earth's circumference. Measures for capacity (volume) and mass were to be derived from the unit of length, thus relating the basic units of the system to each other and to nature. Furthermore, the larger and smaller version of each unit were to be created by multiplying or dividing the basic units by 10 and its powers. This feature provided a great convenience to users of the system, by eliminating the need for such calculations as dividing by 16 (to convert ounces to pounds) or by 12 (to convert inches to feet). Similar calculations in the metric system could be performed simply by shifting the decimal point. Thus the metric system is a “base-10” or “decimal” system. The Commission assigned the name metre-meter-to the unit of length. This name was derived from the Greek word metron, meaning "a measure." The physical standard representing the meter was to be constructed so that it would equal one ten-millionth of the distance from the north pole to the equator along the meridian of the earth running near Dunkirk in France and Barcelona in Spain. So if you ask who got the first idea that led to the metric system as we know it, the answer is Mouton. But his system was not the actual metric system; its unit of length was not the meter, either in name or in meaning. The inventor of the system we actually call the metric system was a committee. See also Invention of the Metric System http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/57566.html If you have any further questions, feel free to write back. - Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
Search the Dr. Math Library: |
[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]
Ask Dr. Math^{TM}
© 1994-2015 The Math Forum
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/