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[aprssig] Re: Metric vs. English systems

Tapio Sokura oh2kku at iki.fi
Wed Sep 5 09:31:14 UTC 2007


(very much offtopic, but couldn't resist posting)

Ben Lindner wrote:
> Also your US gallon is different to the British gallon, figure that one out

I heard a nice little story (and that's probably all this is, a story) 
about this a while back. A looong time ago a shipment of 1000 (Br) 
gallons of whiskey was sent from England to North America on a sailing 
ship. When the ship arrived in NA, the contents of the whiskey barrels 
was divided back into 1000 portions, each one thus being one gallon. So 
why is the US gallon smaller than the British gallon? Because the seamen 
on that ship were thirsty..:-)

Wrt the English vs. Metric separation, it's not that black & white 
almost anywhere. For example aviation worldwide uses feet for altitude, 
knots for speed and nautical miles for distance. Reloaders measure 
powder and bullets mostly in grains no matter where they live (ok, some 
use grams). It doesn't really matter what unit is used, as long as every 
user knows what units are used and they are used consistently, 
especially in safety critical work. For example the famous Gimli Glider 
ran out of fuel due to calculation/conversion errors between 
liters/gallons/pounds/kilograms.

The metric system does have the advantage of being base 10, so 
converting between larger and smaller units is easy. There is also only 
one kilogram, there are never questions like "Is the ounce in 
apothecaries, troy, or avoirdupois?" in the metric system. I've never 
gotten the x/y system either when you could just use decimals ("which is 
bigger, 7/16 or 27/64?"). But I guess that's just me.

   Tapio




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