• Dec 18, 2008
What Car is reporting that the European Parliament has graciously agreed to allow Britain to continue using the mile a bit longer. How nice of them. The EU has just passed a broad measure that allows shops to continue to display imperial and metric measures, thus keeping Britain from having to switch their speedometers and road signs to kilometers. The governing body had previously asked for firm dates from Britain and Ireland to make the switch and stop using Imperial measures, and though their neighbors in Ireland have already made the change, Britain remains noncommittal.

We sympathize with our British brethren. If the EU could just walk 1.609344 km in our shoes, they'd know that switching to the metric system would wreak havoc on poetry and songwriting as we know it. Smiles would no longer be the longest word. There would be no more Mile High Club. Denver would lose its Mile High Stadium. Eminem would be crushed upon losing 8 Mile Road. Miles Davis would have to change his name to Kilometers Davis. It would be the end of the world as we know it.

[Source: What Car]


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  • 63 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      You want to see confusing - try converting inertia from metric to imperial:

      Inertia Minimum 4.9 kgm2 (3.6 slug-ft2)
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've noticed that the system of measurements one uses affects one's sense of perspective. For example, even though I'm Canadian, I have great difficulty imagining what a person's height would be in metric.
      • 6 Years Ago
      the metric system is by far better than the imperial, no doubt.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes, and Britain knows that. It has committed ITSELF to go metric in the late 60s but it has never set the deadline. Call it "English way..."

        Anyway, that's only pro-forma victory, as ALL British imperial measures are legally defined in metric units. A yard is not defined as I don't know how many inches, but as 0.9144 meter.

        What's more, ALL road planning is done in metric system (legal obligation), but, in the infinite British wisdom, all road signs must indicate distances in miles. Legally, a roadsign must be positioned 200 meters ahead of, say, a turn. In practice it means that a sign advertising a turn in 200 yards must be 200 meters ahead of the turn. During my four years in Britain I've never came across a sign Turn in 218.7227 yards.....

        And, if I'm not mistaken, certain US federal infrastructure must be planned in metric units too....
        • 6 Years Ago
        One way or the other, these measurement unit systems are for ones understanding of "how much" is a certain measure.

        And if the measure is given a unit from a particular system, then it should be treated as a part of the culture that is prevailing in the geographic location of that measurement system.

        Having lived in a country that follows the British (EU) system for about 21 years (I am not from Europe, though) and now living in the USA for more than 3 years, following the imperial system (or whatever it is called) is more like a new culture to me.

        I respect both the systems and would like to correspond to them according my geographic locations.

        Yes, I do agree I may have some bias while using either of the systems for certain tasks, but I would certainly not abuse or hate either for their nature.

        Live with what you have, and let others live with what they do. Do not try to overtake theirs, or override yours.

        There are several other things to be worried about, to discuss about, and to reform about.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well, for your information, as I have lived in the UK for 5 years, apart from the sign posts on the highway, almost everything else there, eg. weight, length that officially use in press or news, temperature, volume are in metrics. As I grow up from a metric system, I have 0/none difficulty living/driving/drinking, in the UK at all. Consider that the UK has a image of being modest and afraid of any changes, they have done a fantastic job. Having said all that, I am now working in the US, you figure how messed up I am by the imperil system now...and how much that the US is living in a world of themselves...
      • 6 Years Ago
      If the American people ever decide that I should become their benevolent dictator for life, one of my first decrees will be the abolition of English weights and measures, by force if necessary.

      Every try converting degrees/minutes/seconds into feet, inches, yards, or miles? ugh.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @spookiness
        "Every try converting degrees/minutes/seconds into feet, inches, yards, or miles? ugh."

        yea, its impossible...


        MORE SCHOOL FOR YOU!
      • 6 Years Ago
      @ Gardener Westbound

      You said: All gauges and thermostats are in English to avoid logging temperatures in half-degrees – necessary in metric for precision.

      Have you ever seen a precision digital thermometer that uses fractions? No, they use decimals, like 27.5 degrees
        • 6 Years Ago
        As displayed on a digital display. I don't care how you pronounce or redefine it, just how you visually display the information.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The precision doesn't have to do with whether or not you can use decimals or fractions.

        Look at it this way, water freezes at 32 degrees F and boils at 212 degrees F. In Celsius, those figures are 0 and 100 respectively. So, the spread between water freezing and boiling in Fahreheit is 180 degrees while it is 100 degrees when measured in Celsius. Basically, each degree C is a larger step than each degree F, so Fahrenheit is the more accurate measurement.

        Look at it another way. If you have a speedometer that has marks for every 10mph and one that has marks for every 20mph, which one is easier to determine your speed the most accurately with?

        Well, Celsius and Fahrenheit are kind of like that. Each degree C is 1.8 degrees F, so their theoretical speedometer would have marks every 10mph(Fahrenheit) or every 18mph(Celsius).
          te0
          • 4 Months Ago

          "Fahrenheit is the more accurate measurement."

          ???

          Ok! Same logic. 

          Inch is larger than cm, so cm is more accurate!

          Once is bigger than g, so g is more accurate!

          Mile is bigger than km, so km is more accurate!


        • 6 Years Ago
        How is .5 degrees not a half-degree?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Metric fans admire the ease of converting metric units into other metric units, but how good is that? The Imperial system’s rich variety attempts to model the way things are used. A teaspoon is a large pinch, a pint is the amount of beer I want, and a mile is a good stretch o' the legs. Who cares how many yards there are in a mile? If the thing is better measured in feet, use feet; if it's better measured in miles, use miles. If you need to convert between the two haul out a calculator or Google it. Regardless, these are infrequent and uncomplicated tasks.

      I prefer a system in which I can live. Imperial measurements are useful approximations of real people and life. Eggheads made metric to be consistent only with itself. It falls short when an attempt is made to connect it with the thing measured. Try to describe how much is in a metric unit. Mumbo jumbo like “a meter is the length of the path traveled by a ray of light in a vacuum in a 1/299,792,458 of a second time interval”, means nothing to most of us. Look for commonsense things like a foot is about the length of your foot, or a yard is about is one step.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes, the metric system is incredible natural if you happen to be the Earth (so it is 10,000 km from your waistline to the top of your head) or if you happen to be a quantity of water (so a liter of you weights a kilogram). But I'm not a quantity of water, nor am I the Earth.

        I will never see 100C degrees in my lifetime, I'd be dead before that.

        My biggest question is this:
        If the Metric system is so damn great, why are you looking to bar others from using other systems? You don't see Imperial units people trying to tell Metric people they have to stop using their system and switch. But you see Metric people all the time (like the EU here) trying to ban other systems.

        I happen to know both systems very well. Why would telling me I can't use one of them be a benefit?
        • 6 Years Ago
        A pint is what you what to drink - but it's almost exactly half a liter. Drinking a 'pint' sounds obviously cooler, but it's really no deal.

        My height is 1.85 meters. I can live with that, and am glad I can convert it to 185 centimeters, or whatever other unit of length I can get. The "mumbo-jumbo" doesn't mean anything to all of us, because it doesn't have to: It's a scientific measurement to ensure that the definition of meter can remain static everywhere, regardless of the original "meter"'s condition.

        I study physics. Imagine the hell of conversing Miles per Hour to Yards per Second - while converting km/h to m/s is as simple as it gets. Imagine converting pounds to whatever smaller unit was invented, compared to the metric gram to kilogram or ton. All of the scientific equations are written for Metric, as well...
        • 6 Years Ago
        The problem is that there are 3 Countries left on the planet that haven't Officially adopted Metric (and the other two are Liberia and Myanmar). The UK has Officially adopted it but is taking it's time putting it into practice. The US was supposed to do it then backed away. Otherwise the rest of the ENTIRE WORLD uses the metric system. Life would be much easier in business and science if everyone used the same system. NASA even lost a space craft not that long ago over a mix up between the two systems.

        Metric is more precise and more easily convertible which matters in fields like science. People always fight change but sometimes it is good. Most Canadians know both systems. We still tend to talk height and weight in Imperial because of the influence of American media and older generations but in the winter we don't talk about it being 30 degrees outside.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Though the governments of many former British colonies including Canada have attempted to impose metric, ordinary people stubbornly cling to the English system. It has nothing to do with whether metric is a superior system. Some portions of it may be better, others worse.

        There is very little chance it will ever come into common use. Just as I was finishing this up, I asked several people around me how tall they are. Everyone including fully metric indoctrinated twenty-somethings replied in English. I work in a building complex that occupies up two city blocks. Building management recently installed new heating and cooling systems. All gauges and thermostats are in English to avoid logging temperatures in half-degrees – necessary in metric for precision.
        • 6 Years Ago
        imperial system is no more natural than the metric system; it only seems that way because you grew up with it. If you get rid of your nostalgic blinders, and allow a generation of children to grow up with it, the metric system will save the country a tonne of money.

        And btw, the origin of the foot has nothing to do with kings or actual human feet, it is as arbitrary as the meter. To top it off, there's at least 30 different sizes of "foot" in the world. As far as current NIST definition of the meter, it is done in reference to the most stable measurable unit of length, sorry if that is too confusing to comprehend.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ha Ha, You sound like a caveman!!!

        Great job.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah, and a shoe size is the length of one barley corn. That's
        something I can really live with.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Try to describe how much is in a metric unit. Mumbo jumbo like “a meter is the length of the path traveled by a ray of light in a vacuum in a 1/299,792,458 of a second time interval”, means nothing to most of us." Ah, I'll try to describe a metric unit then. A meter (metre) is 100 centimetres, or 1000 millimetres. Or 1/100th of a kilometre. Simple enough.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I'm with Gardiner Westbound. You guys can adopt any system you want but I'm sticking with pounds and feet and ounces and the whatnot. This is America dammit. Did we lose a war or something??
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah, it makes sense to you because you have been using it all your life. Obviously I use the imperial system, but the metric system is so much more simple. The temperatures make more sense, too: water boils at 100 degrees C and freezes at 0 degrees. If we adopted the metric system, it would cause mass panic and confusion but eventually it would make sense to everyone.
        • 6 Years Ago
        My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and thats the way I likes it!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Certain roads in the US are marked off in km.

      Tire width is measured in mm, rim radius in inches.

      All those European model Fords they're set to build here? Get ready to buy a new set of tools...

      Britain had the chance long ago to switch to metric road measures and change the side which side of the road to drive on. It would have been straightforward in the 60s.

      It's all part of the British lack of self-identity (which is stupid -- I'm a British expat, and I know what makes me British, and it ain't chips & mushy peas).
      • 6 Years Ago
      Denver already lost Mile High stadium!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Some engineer type commented to me a few years ago that the United States needed to go metric. I said we will go metric right after being conquered by a country using the metric system. Until that day comes the rest of the world can stuff it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      On one hand I am glad the UK is not bowing to the wishes of the EU and doing what they choose as a sovereign nation but on the other...well the Metric system is just better.

      I would love to switch over completely here in the US but I am sure the cost is rather prohibitive for a transition. It will be something that needs to be done but I think there are better uses of tax dollars currently. Just think how much all those mile markers will cost to replace. Not to mention road signs. Also, there will have to be a transition period. The whole thing is a rather large pain in the ass for little upside. It is not like the US and UK are in any way held back by the inferior system.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Have you seen math and science scores in the US lately?
        • 6 Years Ago
        That counter point does not make any sense. Low math and science scores has nothing to do with the metric system or the imperial system,

        Besides, every science class in the US using the metric system. Where did you go to school that uses the imperial system?

        Correlation does not equal causation.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've lived in the US my whole short life so far and I've never had an issue with Imperial and Metric. We mostly used Metric in Physics and Chemistry problems, no big deal. I grew up knowing both measurements, ex like the differences between a 20 once and 2 liter bottle of soda. We're not "backwards" or "living in our own world"; the use of the Imperial system is just another characteristic of America - no problem, no need to debate.
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