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View Poll Results: left, center or right aligned?
Left aligned 12 28.57%
Center aligned 10 23.81%
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mixed (overhead center, exit left aligned) 19 45.24%
i don't look at the signage anyway 1 2.38%
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Old April 8th, 2007, 12:56 AM   #221
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Foe example when you are on a freeway and you see a sign stating the next exit is in 300m. You automatically know that's 0.3 Km's, so you know how much is it.

If you have a sign stating the distance for the next exit in feet, you have no idea what part of a mile does that represent... and as you're used to distances in miles for roads, that sign in feet will confuse you... unlike the metric signs in roads where distances are measured in km's.


That's just an everyday exemple... there are tons of others.
Do you really think that "300m is 1/3 of a km, and thats how far I need to go" or do you think "300m is about this much farther away, better get to the right lane". I usually think the latter on the freeway, so when a sign says "Exit 1 mile" or "Exit 1/4 mile" or "Exit 1500 ft" I don't think of it as an exact measurement that needs to be converted, I just know about how far that is. 1/4 mi is very close, 1500 ft is a little farther, but pretty close, 1/2 mi is reasonably close, 3/4 mi is far enough away where there is some time to make a decision on whether or not I am exiting. 1 mile indicates that I need to pay attention to the upcoming exit.

That a quarter of a mile is 1320 ft or a half is 2640 is irrelevant, I know about how far away they are. No signmaker with any sort of common sense is going to put up those unfamiliar amounts. And that 2500m is 2.5km is irrelevant in much the same way, you pretty much know how far away they are. That Europe uses one style and Canada/Australia uses the other and both are interchangeable is a nice benefit, but hardly one that is used often enough to warrant a full-scale change. How about this, we change to metric and everyone drives on the right. Is that a fair exchange?
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Old April 8th, 2007, 01:11 AM   #222
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How do you measure for example distances in a house or so in the US?
In metric, for a roam, it could be something like 4.5 x 5.6 m^2.

How do you do in there? I guess you measure it in feets... But feets and fractions of feets, or do you also use inches, like you do when measuring a person's height?


Another great thing about metric scale is that we just need 1 scale in our rulers.
If someone who works with furniture is measuring a new piece, he willl just measure it with a ruler marked with mm's and cm's... and he can measure any distance with it.... be it 1.2m, 27 cm or 17mm.

How do you do in there? The rulers must have diferent scale I guess. 1 with inches... and another with feet, if you need to use feet. And what unit do you use for measures below inches?
Square feet, which are made just the same way square meters are. A 2,500 square foot house is a nice sized house for a family.

Our rulers look like this:



Usually, they're just a foot long, like the one there. For longer distances, we use yardsticks (which are 3 feet, that is, a yard, long) or tape measures, which usually go up to 6 feet. Yes, those are centimeters and millimeters on the other side, useful when working on European automobiles (and new American ones, which all use metric specifications now).

Below inches, we use half-inches, quarter-inches, eighths of inches, sixteenths of inches all the way to 32nds of inches. It works just fine, since often you don't need to be that precise, and most objects made in the US are standardized to at the very least 8ths of inches. A 16 mm wrench is about the same as a 5/8 in wrench, for example.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 01:17 AM   #223
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They certainly deal with grandma and grandpa more often than the scientific community. Most of them are not going to be scientists; those that do will learn SI.
Scientists, engineers, physicians, etc. There are benefits to mainstream society following the same standards as those in those professions, wouldn't you say? Those are highly regarded professions that children should be encouraged to strive for.

What's more, grandma and grandpa aren't going to be around forever.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 01:22 AM   #224
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Scientists, engineers, physicians, etc. There are benefits to the mainstream following those in those professions, wouldn't you say? Those are highly regarded professions that children should be encouraged to strive for.

What's more, grandma and grandpa aren't going to be around forever.
And they certainly are. Most good scientists, however, are not made that way, usually there is an interest in science that comes from even before schooling. Most scientists publish in English, but that doesn't mean that they speak it at home.

Grandma and grandpa certainly are going to die sooner or later, but when there are 100 million grandmas and grandpas, getting them all to follow a new system becomes increasingly difficult.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 01:47 AM   #225
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This may have been covered already, but I don't have the time to read every post here...didn't the U.S. plan to go all metric sometime back in the 70's? What caused this not to happen?

(I remember some radio and tv stations started giving the temps in celsius to get ready!...that quickly ended)

The metric system is really an easier system to understand, but Americans are rather hard-headed about such matters and what is familiar is what remains!
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Old April 8th, 2007, 01:58 AM   #226
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Metric measurements is ok, I guess

But the Celsius so-called "temperature scale" is dangerous and evil
Hehe, id say its very logical and easy to grasp, 0 degrees for when water freezes to ice and 100 degrees for when water boils in normal atmospheric pressureconditions. And everything else relative to that.

But id say kelvin is better than both celsius and fahrenheit, isn't it?

I guess celsius is better for regular temperaturemeasurements for weatherpurposes though becouse the contrast of using negative and positive values. you know its cold when its minus, and there is a significant difference between -20 and +20. Whereas 253.15 and 293.15 doesn't offer the same contrast.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 04:36 AM   #227
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I guess we'il now someone stating the Fahrenheit is much better, and that the 0ºF(-18ºC) is a much more usefull point than 0ºC.

The 0ºC is the most important point in temperature (weather wise) there is... undoubtedly... it's when things start to freeze, snow, etc... But i'm sure someone will come up with some excuse to say than in fact, the 0ºF is actually the point that's really important!
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Old April 8th, 2007, 04:46 AM   #228
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Originally Posted by Nephasto View Post
I guess we'il now someone stating the Fahrenheit is much better, and that the 0ºF(-18ºC) is a much more usefull point than 0ºC.

The 0ºC is the most important point in temperature (weather wise) there is... undoubtedly... it's when things start to freeze, snow, etc... But i'm sure someone will come up with some excuse to say than in fact, the 0ºF is actually the point that's really important!
Well, temperatures in Western Europe do tend to range from -18 to 38 C... maybe Gabriel Fahrenheit was on to something when he picked that exact temperature to be his zero.

And why is it when someone disagrees with you it's because of "some excuse"? Why can't two people (or societies) have completely legitimate reasons to do things differently?
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Old April 8th, 2007, 06:24 AM   #229
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Exactly from -18 to 38?!
Well... in here it's more like between 3 and 35.
In London It would be between -5 and 30... In Stocholm between -25 and 25... and so on.

So... no, there's really nothing special about -18ºC.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 07:06 AM   #230
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It is funny how some old-fashioned Americans are trying to justify Imperial measuremt system from "scientific" points of view. Yeah, Farhenheits are better because the scale is almost twice smaller than that of the Celcius. It gives you a better precision. He-he... The fact that no one can feel the difference in 2°F anyway is largely ignored. Even in degrees Celcius I can hardly tell a difference between, say, 17°C and 19°C, not to mention between higher temperatures like 33°C and 35°C.

Sometimes I wonder how come Americans did not go metric some 200 years ago? They simplified British language and decided to drive on the right just to be different from Britons. Why didn't they switched to metric? 200 years ago average population was not as literate as today, so converison would be much smoother than now. Illiteracy was the main reason why India switched to metric relatively easy in the 1950s.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 07:07 AM   #231
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How about this, we change to metric and everyone drives on the right. Is that a fair exchange?
Deal!
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Old April 8th, 2007, 07:21 AM   #232
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Exactly from -18 to 38?!
Well... in here it's more like between 3 and 35.
In London It would be between -5 and 30... In Stocholm between -25 and 25... and so on.

So... no, there's really nothing special about -18ºC.
-18 is about as cold as it ever gets in most places (Gdansk, for example, where Fahrenheit was from) and 38 is about as hot as it ever gets. Usually, it's around the middle, from about 25 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

I'm not saying it inherently "proves" that Fahrenheit is better, just that it's something to think about.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 07:41 AM   #233
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Originally Posted by Alex Von Königsberg View Post
It is funny how some old-fashioned Americans are trying to justify Imperial measuremt system from "scientific" points of view. Yeah, Farhenheits are better because the scale is almost twice smaller than that of the Celcius. It gives you a better precision. He-he... The fact that no one can feel the difference in 2°F anyway is largely ignored. Even in degrees Celcius I can hardly tell a difference between, say, 17°C and 19°C, not to mention between higher temperatures like 33°C and 35°C.
Come on, really. Celsius is just as arbitrary as Fahrenheit. Just as there are 100 degrees between freezing and boiling in Celsius, there are 180 degrees in Fahrenheit. We just put the starting point 32 degrees earlier. In fact, after Fahrenheit died, the scale was recalibrated to have exactly that happen. Thus, why it is so relatively easy to convert between the two systems.

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Sometimes I wonder how come Americans did not go metric some 200 years ago? They simplified British language and decided to drive on the right just to be different from Britons. Why didn't they switched to metric? 200 years ago average population was not as literate as today, so converison would be much smoother than now. Illiteracy was the main reason why India switched to metric relatively easy in the 1950s.


Possibly there was no way to at that time. The metric system was invented in 1791, 10 years after the US got up and going. At that time, the country was split up into two factions, Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans. The former, with their base in the rich, powerful Northeast, feared the effects of the French Revolution, and would have made sure that there would be no adoption of the new system. The federal government went officially metric in 1866, but there would be no way to get the whole country to shift, especially after the Civil War.

Finally, though the country was mainly illiterate, it did know its measurements, something absolutely necessary to the farmers who often got their land based on sections (square miles) and acres given out by the government. Not to mention, the US at the time was much less densely populated than India in the 1950s. Metrication was also not seen as a sign of wresting off colonial shackles like it was on the Subcontinent.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 02:33 AM   #234
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Originally Posted by Alex Von Königsberg View Post
It is funny how some old-fashioned Americans are trying to justify Imperial measuremt system from "scientific" points of view. Yeah, Farhenheits are better because the scale is almost twice smaller than that of the Celcius. It gives you a better precision. He-he... The fact that no one can feel the difference in 2°F anyway is largely ignored. Even in degrees Celcius I can hardly tell a difference between, say, 17°C and 19°C, not to mention between higher temperatures like 33°C and 35°C.
Yet the same people probably wouldn't accept that as an "advantage" of cm over inches
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Old April 9th, 2007, 07:16 AM   #235
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Come on, really. Celsius is just as arbitrary as Fahrenheit. Just as there are 100 degrees between freezing and boiling in Celsius, there are 180 degrees in Fahrenheit. We just put the starting point 32 degrees earlier. In fact, after Fahrenheit died, the scale was recalibrated to have exactly that happen. Thus, why it is so relatively easy to convert between the two systems.
There is one problem here already. Regardless of which system is actually "better", it is a fact that people work much easier with "round" numbers that are powers of 10. Therefore, while both systems are arbitrary, 100 is much easier to grasp than 180. Of course, that is the case when we are dealing with water, which is a reasonable choice for weather and other everyday affairs. And what the other pro-Celsius people say about weather is also important. It is much clearer to distinguish freezing temperatures by a minus sign (and again, it's an important distinction when it comes to weather), while in Fahrenheit, we get numbers such as 32 (already not so convenient, because it is a much more "random" number than 0), and therefore we have numbers that are both negative and positive, corresponding to freezing.

With regards to Kelvin, it is best left to the scientific community. Besides, one can think of the Celsius scale as simply the Kelvin scale shifted up to be more convenient for everyday life (even though, of course, Celsius predates Kelvin in reality).

That said, temperature isn't the biggest problem. The Imperial measurement system, on the other hand, is simply harder to grasp, and it really is a fact, because it relies on measures that are not powers of 10. It is probably true that a person who used Imperial his/her whole life has absolutely no problem using it, a system that is based on powers of 10 is more natural for humans. It is often easier to write (Imperial often requires fractions, and lacks prefixes that can be used to indicate larger numbers), and converting from one unit to another is a huge pain in the neck, both for people who are not used to the system, and to those who are. The argument that "we don't care about exact quantities, but only get a feel of how large they are" is not a good one, because there are many instances where an exact quantity may be required, and I don't think that converting between all of these inches, feet, miles, etc. is something that can quickly be done by the average person without the use of calculators and conversion tables. In the metric system, this conversion is really a non-issue for anyone with basic mathematical skills.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 08:03 AM   #236
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I guess we'il now someone stating the Fahrenheit is much better, and that the 0ºF(-18ºC) is a much more usefull point than 0ºC.

The 0ºC is the most important point in temperature (weather wise) there is... undoubtedly... it's when things start to freeze, snow, etc... But i'm sure someone will come up with some excuse to say than in fact, the 0ºF is actually the point that's really important!
What was Fahrenheit thinking when he decided to use salt water as a basis for setting 0º and 100º?! Depending on the concentration of salt in the water the numbers could be wildly off. Using pure water in the Celsius scale makes more sense (snow/ice/rain). I mean who really needs to know the freezing or boiling point of lab-specified salt water in their everyday lives?!

I'm sure there are people out there who will say the Fahrenheit scale better reflects the comfortable living range for humans (0**ºF-100ºF), but doesn't the freezing point (0ºC/32ºF) pose a greater concern to human health? I don't know how long an unprepared person can survive in those conditions. Wouldn't it make more sense from that perspective to calibrate 0 to a relative danger point for humans?
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Old April 9th, 2007, 09:55 AM   #237
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There is one problem here already. Regardless of which system is actually "better", it is a fact that people work much easier with "round" numbers that are powers of 10. Therefore, while both systems are arbitrary, 100 is much easier to grasp than 180. Of course, that is the case when we are dealing with water, which is a reasonable choice for weather and other everyday affairs. And what the other pro-Celsius people say about weather is also important. It is much clearer to distinguish freezing temperatures by a minus sign (and again, it's an important distinction when it comes to weather), while in Fahrenheit, we get numbers such as 32 (already not so convenient, because it is a much more "random" number than 0), and therefore we have numbers that are both negative and positive, corresponding to freezing.

With regards to Kelvin, it is best left to the scientific community. Besides, one can think of the Celsius scale as simply the Kelvin scale shifted up to be more convenient for everyday life (even though, of course, Celsius predates Kelvin in reality).

That said, temperature isn't the biggest problem. The Imperial measurement system, on the other hand, is simply harder to grasp, and it really is a fact, because it relies on measures that are not powers of 10. It is probably true that a person who used Imperial his/her whole life has absolutely no problem using it, a system that is based on powers of 10 is more natural for humans. It is often easier to write (Imperial often requires fractions, and lacks prefixes that can be used to indicate larger numbers), and converting from one unit to another is a huge pain in the neck, both for people who are not used to the system, and to those who are. The argument that "we don't care about exact quantities, but only get a feel of how large they are" is not a good one, because there are many instances where an exact quantity may be required, and I don't think that converting between all of these inches, feet, miles, etc. is something that can quickly be done by the average person without the use of calculators and conversion tables. In the metric system, this conversion is really a non-issue for anyone with basic mathematical skills.
I'm glad you recognized that one who has grown up with the system doesn't have these problems. In most areas where metric has a clear advantage over customary, as you pointed out, the supposed "problems" simply don't arise. Generally, you don't need to convert between different units, because you start on a certain scale to begin with. You wouldn't start measuring meter-scale things in millimeters, would you? Likewise, foot-scale things aren't measured in inches. They are measured in feet first, then the inches left over are measured. Therefore, overpass heights in the US have signs that say " 15' 6" ", for example.

Maybe we look at measurement differently than metric countries. Certainly doesn't hinder us that much.
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 05:53 AM   #238
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Back to the original topic of metric signs. Here in Washington State, the English speed limit sign is accompanied by the metric one (25 mph, 40 km/h).

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Old April 22nd, 2007, 07:34 AM   #239
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Alex, where was this taken? Looks like E. Washington.

I don't think this is that common in Washington, maybe up near the Canadian border, but I don't see a lot of signs like that.
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 08:31 AM   #240
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pwalker, it was taken on WA-504 near Coldwater Lake in Cowlitz county. So, it's not really that close to Canadian border. But I also think that metric signs would be rare. Besides, this pic, I believe, was taken in the St Helen's park where a lot of visitors drive.

Down here in Sacramento, they had a distance sign that displayed kilometres along miles, but after they renovated the road (US-50), the sign was gone
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