Review of Metric system

by Josh

Official Metric Seal

Official Metric Seal

I use math when analyzing political phenomenon mostly and it helps a great deal with predictive studies. When it comes to the metric system of measurements, I believe all science related courses should be using the metric system.

As pointed out in the article, it is very easy to convert from one unit to another once you learn the hierarchy of how the system is set up. The continuity of the metric system from liquid measurement to gram measurement and so on is very useful for students when trying to make quick calculations in the lab setting or even if they are just trying to fly through some science homework in a hurry.

I, myself, have become quite comfortable with the metric system over the years and prefer it in most cases, except for temperature because I have become so accustomed to the Fahrenheit measurement. Students should most definitely familiarize themselves with the metric system because it is quite easy to understand and very useful.

Barry's Response - We call the metric system the Internal System of Units. We use the abbreviation more often than the full name, Système International d'Unités (SI). Using this set of fundamental units (there are only seven) eliminates all ambiguities associated with non-highly standardized measurement systems. Which units?

meter - distance
kilogram - mass
second - time
ampere - current
kelvin - temperature
candela - light intensity
mole - Avogadro's number (approx. 6.022 x 1023) of particles

All other units are derived from these seven. For example you can get speed in m/s, density in kg/m3 or energy in kg m/s2.

A note about Temperature: Many scientific calculations involving SI and temperature (like thermodynamics) require absolute temperature as an input. You can convert Celsius (aka centigrade) to Kelvin by adding 273.16. Your comments make a lot of sense and thank you, Josh.

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How did this system come about?

The French, and their 18th century revolution.

As a rational response to the chaotic medley of regional measurements in Europe, the metric system emerged during the Enlightenment.  Decimal-based systems, where units are scaled consistently by powers of ten, were championed by visionaries like Gabriel Mouton and John Wilkins.

The French Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Lavoisier and Monge, crystallized the metric system in 1795 as the guillotine echoed in the streets.  In the beginning, the meter was conceived as one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole.  It's tethered to the water content of a cubic decimeter of pure water.  In its place came the kilogram, the quintessential unit of mass.

Despite this, the metric march encountered resistance.  Inertia and tradition often got in the way of decimal elegance.  As the Napoleonic Wars loomed, the metric system struggled to gain acceptance.  Science gave it refuge, but practicality held it back.

The metric system had a renaissance in the 20th century.  The world needed a standardized language of measurement after two World Wars.  In 1960, the meter and kilogram were repurposed, refined, and codified as the International System of Units (SI).

The resurgence wasn't without its challenges.  Nations juggled tradition and progress, often hesitating on conversion.  There were debates over ounces and inches, miles and pounds due to the metric system's burstiness and perplexity.  Decimal logic clashed with the allure of the familiar.

One might argue that the metric system embodies a tug-of-war between reason and resistance, just like his environmental challenges.  Throughout its history, tradition and innovation have played together.  A metric tapestry weaves together enlightenment, resistance, and the quest for a global measurement language.

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