Previous   Next

Did you learn how to use the metric system in school?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on February 17, 2012

Browse the archives

Photo of Robert Kleibohmer


Photo of Pamela Carper

“Not really. We talked about it but didn’t learn it.”

Photo of Zach DeHart

“Yes, unfortunately.”

Photo of Hillary Willson

“We started learning it in eighth grade and used it through high school.”


labmonkey 6 years, 3 months ago

I think we got more of it than the the standard system.

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

Metric was never intended to replace inch/foot in the US. It was brought in by the automotive industry to justify cheaper parts being supplied from sources outside US borders. The simplest way to prove this is to go to a tool distributor and ask to purchase a set of metric sockets. The sales rep will ask,"Would you like those in 3/8" or 1/2" drive?"

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

I retained more from my eighth grade Latin class. Another waste of time.

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

And while we're at it, what the heck was the point of learning to cypher in base 13? Do they still do that?

Flap Doodle 6 years, 3 months ago

Metric system, I spit when I say the words. Patooie! There was nothing wrong with measuring in poods and chains. The little thin pancake eaters tried a decimal calendar after their revolution. For a couple of years, nobody in the country knew what the heck day it was.

appleaday 6 years, 3 months ago

We use it all the time in health care. It's not that difficult.

booyalab 6 years, 3 months ago

Metric is better for scientific calculations. Imperial is better for everyday use, because we use it. Honestly, you don't need a better reason for that. Even if meters uses 10s, there would still be a giant learning hurdle for Americans to overcome. Plus, if you aren't doing calculations, the metric system is just as arbitrary as the imperial.

Kirk Larson 6 years, 3 months ago

Also: 1 cubic centimeter of water weighs 1 gram a 10 cm cube weighs 1 kilogram water freezes (at std pressure) at 0 deg C water boils (at std pressure) at 100 deg C

How easy is that?!

Loki 6 years, 3 months ago

How many eighths in an ounce... that was college. Opps not what you said!

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

Well . . . you have no idea how difficult it was in 1965 to convince your date that 9 centimeters equals 1 foot . . . just sayin' . . .

RogueThrill 6 years, 3 months ago

It's probably because you were dating someone smart enough to know that there were over 30 in a foot and that you didn't measure up.

melott 6 years, 3 months ago

I have relatives in England who have a flooring company. They all hated the idea of metric conversion. Now they love it and would never go back. It is time the US joined the rest of the world. We were on the path to do that--until Ronnie Ray-gun canceled it. One more obstacle to selling American products.

Terry Sexton 6 years, 3 months ago

More helpful measurements: supposedly you can weigh stuff by stones (14 lbs) or half-stones (you figure it out). Half stones are recommended when converting ounces & grams.

However, A stone's worth of wax weighs 12 lbs whereas a stone of mutton or beef is 8lbs, the same as sugar & spice (and everything nice.) A stone of wool weighs 14, 15, or 22 lbs. depending on the gullibility of the buyer.

So, I guess a stone weighs whatever you need it to weigh. That's pretty handy. Let's see, 4 inches to the hand so Withey is 21 hands skyward & tRob is 20...

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

When I built the bunker I settled for 25 cubits by 18 cubits by 8 cubits

Richard Payton 6 years, 3 months ago

Better feed the meter on Mass St. or you get a ticket.

Terry Sexton 6 years, 3 months ago

Penny's has new pricing & a good selection of expando-pants from 48 inches to 15 hands.

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

golf balls must have a diameter of not less that 42.67mm and weigh no more than 45.93 grams

autie I see you have a new (or not so new) follower on another thread (from a source)

labmonkey 6 years, 3 months ago

I know metric like many know a foreign language. I know the units and have to use them in my field, but I still think in standard and always reference to standard measurements in my head to get an actual concept of size.

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 3 months ago

Nope I grew up in the USA in a one room school out in the country, never even seen one of these "metric" untell one day I was working on my old Chevy and my 1/2 socket didn't fit whatever I wanted to remove, found a 12 point socket and presto got it removed. Stll not a fan of the dang sysyem,

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

The metric "tonne" equals 1,000 kilograms of mass before metrification a ton equaled 2,240 lbs., or a "long ton" In the US ton refers to the "short ton", or 2,000 lbs

A long ton is 1016 kg A short ton is 907 kg

Terry Sexton 6 years, 3 months ago

how about the won tons? lunch, anybody?

Terry Sexton 6 years, 3 months ago

What's a henway, anyway? My friend, Gus, tried to put one on a scale when an egg dropped out & broke in his lap. That Gus, always yolkin' around. Sometimes there's no egg-squeezing his behavior.

Catzilla 6 years, 3 months ago

Come on America! It takes about 10 minutes to learn the metric system!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

Give a Martian a gram and he'll take an ounce.

Terry Sexton 6 years, 3 months ago

Well, I might be thick headed but I yam not thin skinned.

Brian Laird 6 years, 3 months ago

After reading these comments, the fact that the US is losing its edge in science is becoming easier to understand.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

Here are two questions that very, very few Americans can answer correctly:

1) Which weighs more: An ounce of feathers or an ounce of gold?

2) Which weighs more, or do they weigh the same? A pound of lead on the earth, or that same amount of lead on the moon?

Brian Laird 6 years, 3 months ago

  1. They weigh the same on Earth.
  2. Same amount of lead on the moon weighs less.

The pound is a unit of force or weight not a unit of mass like the kg. The English unit for mass has the unfortunate name of "slug".

Most Americans who complain about the metric system probably dont really know the English system in any depth as well. Ask someone the difference between fluid ounces and dry ounces sometime as a test.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

  1. Incorrect. An ounce of Gold weighs more, because Gold is measured in Troy ounces. One Troy ounce (oz t) is equal to 31.1034768 grams. Feathers are measured in Avoirdupois ounces. One Avoirdupois ounce is equal to 28.349523125 grams.

  2. Correct.

Brian Laird 6 years, 2 months ago

No, you didn't state the units you were intending. For you to be correct you would have to say which weighs more one avoirdupois ounce of feathers or one troy ounce of gold. Just because something is traditionally weighed in one unit doesn't mean that it cannot be weighed in another unit and by failing to specify to which units you were referring, I must logically assume that you were using the same ounce for both. So, my answer was not incorrect - it just didn't answer the question that you thought you were asking.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

The USA is the laughingstock of the world, because we are the only country that still uses the English system of measurement for anything at all. (Except for the Troy ounce for precious metals, which is not the same ounce that is used for anything else.)

This is the original English system of measurement for length:

One inch = In approximately 1066, 1 inch was equal to 3 barleycorn, which continued to be its legal definition for several centuries, with the barleycorn being the base unit. (although this is somewhat disputed.)

One foot = Varied a great deal. It depended upon where you were at. Prior to the introduction of the metric system, many European cities and countries used the foot, but it varied considerably: the voet in Ieper (Ypres), Belgium was 273.8 millimetres (10.78 in) while the piede in Venice was 347.73 millimetres (13.690 in).

One yard = Also varied a great deal. The precise origin of the measure is not definitely known. Some believe it derived from the double cubit, or that it originated from cubic measure, others from its near equivalents, such as the length of a stride or pace. One postulate was that the yard was derived from the girth of a person's waist, while another claim held that the measure was invented by Henry I of England as being the distance between the tip of his nose and the end of his thumb.

One mile = Also varied a great deal. The Romans were first to use the unit of long distance mille passuum (literally "a thousand paces" in Latin, where each pace was two steps). It denoted a distance of 1,000 paces or 5,000 Roman feet, and is estimated to be about 1,479 metres (1,617 yards). This unit, now known as the Roman mile, spread throughout the Roman Empire, often with modifications to fit local systems of measurements.

Today, all the the English system of measurement is defined by the Metric system.

For length, one inch = 2.54 centimeters exactly. 12 inches per foot, 3 feet per yard, and 5,280 feet per mile.

For mass and volume, forget it. It is just too lengthy and complicated to bother to explain the English systems of measurement that are right out of Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

For any type of scientific work, only the Metric system is used.

When you buy a light bulb, or measure the power usage of an electrical appliance, the Watt is used. And guess what. The Watt is a Metric measurement!

LadyJ 6 years, 3 months ago

•Referring to football as a “game of millimeters” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. •Inchworms will become centipedes. •Meter sticks are very stubborn — they won’t give an inch! •Currently, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The conversion to metric would mean that a gram of prevention is worth approximately one‑sixtieth a kilogram of cure. Yuck. •Nobody wants to go traipsing all over Hell’s half‑hectare. •Cemetery workers would strike if they were asked to bury the dead “six meters under.” •You could no longer love someone a bushel and peck. You would have to love them 37.9 liters. •The famous barroom reprimand, “Mind your p’s and q’s” (pints and quarts), would become, “Mind your h’s and l’s” (half‑liters and liters).

LadyJ 6 years, 3 months ago

"If God had wanted us to use the metric system,

Jesus would have had 10 apostles."

-- US Senator Jesse Helms

Terry Sexton 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm not fer shore cuz of my density issues & all, but when T_O_B told ant that we could up the average to 2.66 without him, who 'zactly izzit that's gettin' dissed there?

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

I gots a 7.62mm x 51mm that I can hit a 30cm dinner plate at 300 meters with. I know cuz I walked it off at 324 paces (give or take . . .)

RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

Good point, I just don't hav access to a 1,000 meter range at this time. Bullet rotation, gravity and earth rotation play a considerable role at that distance so these old eyes may have to rely more on luck and Kentucky windage if the opportunity arrises.

beatrice 6 years, 3 months ago

It would require us to either change the size of our football fields, or we have to start calling midfield the 45.72 meter line. Sorry, but if it messes with our football, it ain't gonna happen.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

Some time ago, the price of gasoline was being discussed, and it was claimed to be too high. I made the remark that there is a very quick and easy way to lower the price.

Just start selling it by the liter! Most people would probably think the price was suddenly much cheaper, and maybe there was something wrong with their car because its fuel mileage was so much lower now.

That reminds me of a fraternity prank played years ago that my younger brother told me about. One of the members of the fraternity had a Volkswagen Bug, and he was endlessly computing and bragging about what wonderful fuel mileage he was getting with it.

So, his fraternity brothers began the practice of adding fuel to his gas tank when he was not around. Never very much at a time, a gallon at the most. But there were a few men doing it.

Suddenly he was getting over 50 miles per gallon in town, and the bragging went on and on! And, everyone pretended to be impressed, and mentioned that maybe they should get a VW Bug too.

Then one day, by agreement, everyone quit adding gas to the tank.

Instantly, the VW Bug was not getting over 50 mpg in town any more.

So, the owner took it to the shop to see what could possibly be wrong with it.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.