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Should the US Adopt Metric Standards?

Design News -- Seven years ago, Robert Lipsett, engineering manager at Danaher Motion, wrote a Design News blog about the dwindling reasons for the US to remain wedded to nonmetric standards. Surprisingly, this blog post received no comments for or against. But the need remains for the US to finally jump to the metric system, and I bet it wouldn't take as long for us to adopt metric units as some skeptics think.

Canada, our largest trading partner, adopted metric standards in the 1970s, although commercial relations with the US still require the use of some English units for many products that cross the border. I have traveled to Canada many times, and I found it easy to adapt to the use of grams for product weights, liters for gasoline purchases, and kilometers for distance.


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Submitted Aug 25, 2012 By: doeslayersr
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honda0105
Champion Author Tallahassee

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Message Posted: Sep 1, 2012 7:23:01 AM

rjh: I have a digital scale that won't let you, but a friend has one that allows for the switch. Of course, there's also a mechanical one still in the house...
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rjhenn
Champion Author Des Moines

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Message Posted: Aug 31, 2012 8:37:14 PM

honda0105 - "(unless you have a digital one)."

And then there's usually some way to let you select which you want to see.
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honda0105
Champion Author Tallahassee

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Message Posted: Aug 31, 2012 4:59:03 AM

gasg: the L/100km is more a European thing that was carried to the new world. It still makes sense once you get used to the difference in numbers.

For a while, it would be great if manufacturers would provide both figures. That way, it's easy for everyone to learn and also to compare.
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gazguzzler11
Champion Author Ontario

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Message Posted: Aug 30, 2012 2:04:30 PM

rjhenn

I agree with your comment. My main point was just to let NJ Spotter know that there is a relatively easy way to do the conversion.

Our official fuel economy figures have been the L/100 km for quit a while. I have never switched to that format. Whenever I calculate my mileage I still do it in MPGs. It makes more sense to me as I am more interested in knowing how far I can go. If our Canadian govt decided that MPG had to go because we are metric they should have gone to KM/L a far as I'm concerned.
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honda0105
Champion Author Tallahassee

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Message Posted: Aug 30, 2012 5:10:41 AM

ziyulu: we already have that, plus, scales are in lbs and kilo for the most part (unless you have a digital one).
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honda0105
Champion Author Tallahassee

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Message Posted: Aug 30, 2012 5:08:05 AM

it's much easier to handle. All on a decimal system. And the rest of the world won't laugh when we ditch an expensive toy a world away b/c the poor puppy handlers didn't realize that one control place uses metric, the other imperial (and there again are more standards than one) units.
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ProfDude
Champion Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2012 5:54:03 PM

I also agree that it is high time that we finish making the switch.

As many have posted before, we have already started. We need to pull together to just get it done.

It will be more painful for some of us than for others, but it is manageable because we Americans are up to the task.

Frankly, we could use a good nationwide challenge that isn't for someone's political gain, and that does not involve an invasion or a myriad deaths.
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six_ball_man
Champion Author Rochester

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2012 5:42:52 PM


Of course we should change to metric. The system is much simpler and the measurements cross over. It would be painful for exactly ONE generation. After that, the youngsters would be trained and understand the newer system.

Do I think it will ever happen? Of course not!! Not in this divisive, cut your nose off to spite your face culture. sad
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rjhenn
Champion Author Des Moines

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2012 5:28:27 PM

gazguzzler11 - "There actually is a 'factor' that you can use to convert L/100 km into US MPG. If you divide 235 by the L/100 km number you will always arrive at your US MPG."

NJ_Spotter was right. So are you. He said "so multiplying with a factor won't do". You're dividing a factor by one unit of measure to get the other. Different operations.
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gazguzzler11
Champion Author Ontario

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Message Posted: Aug 28, 2012 1:31:16 PM

NJ Spotter

There actually is a 'factor' that you can use to convert L/100 km into US MPG. If you divide 235 by the L/100 km number you will always arrive at your US MPG. It may not be the simplest but it does work.

I got that from this website http://www.onlineconversion.com/fuel_consumption.htm
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rumbleseat
Champion Author Winnipeg

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Message Posted: Aug 27, 2012 11:54:46 PM

"Why should we? Let the rest of the world change to our system!!!"

That is hilarious - ridiculous, but hilarious.
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jetskijerry
Champion Author North Carolina

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Message Posted: Aug 27, 2012 11:30:25 PM

no
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LetemEatCake
Champion Author Oklahoma City

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Message Posted: Aug 27, 2012 11:27:57 PM


Why not? This argument has been going on for over 40 years! Not going to kill us!
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rjhenn
Champion Author Des Moines

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 11:33:20 PM

MAC48 - "If my US senators and my US representative heed my voice, we will not convert to the metric system."

It's already happening. When's the last time you bought a half-gallon of soda?

And isn't most of our military gear metric these days?

How about cars? Seems I use metric wrenches more than SAE any more.

And the speedometer on my F-150 is marked in both mph & kph.

[Edited by: rjhenn at 8/27/2012 12:36:21 AM EST]
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MAC48
Champion Author Dallas

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 6:14:52 PM

If my US senators and my US representative heed my voice, we will not convert to the metric system.

Seem to remember that great statesman, leader and politician Jimmy Carter's administration pushing a conversion to the metric system during his term as president. The Carter administration efforts to convert the US to the metric system was just as successful as Carter's reelection campaign in 1980.
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bston
Champion Author Oklahoma City

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 5:06:16 PM

There's more metrics going on in our system than most of us realize. Slowly but surely we'll be there.
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blupupher
Champion Author Houston

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 12:50:15 PM

We tried in the 70's. Didn't work then either.
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PCWHIZ
Champion Author Denver

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 11:31:01 AM

No
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zwsn01
All-Star Author Alabama

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 9:56:55 AM

Should have done it a long time ago. Dumb Americans (me included) are too stubborn to change.
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NJ_Spotter
Rookie Author New Jersey

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 9:01:03 AM

Im reply to treehood: The US miles-per-gallon system measures a yield ("How many miles can I get out of a gallon of fuel") while in most if not all countries using a metric system, the actual consumption is measured in liters/100 km ("How much fuel do I use to go a certain distance?"). Roughly speaking, one is the inverse of the other, so multiplying with a factor won't do. In a system measuring yield, large numbers are "good". In a system measuring consumption, small numbers are.
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ziyulu
Champion Author Austin

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 8:03:30 AM

If we do go, which I am totally for it, I hope the government won't force us to convert our vehicles to show kilometers on the odometer.
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treehood
Champion Author San Diego

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 8:00:33 AM

I'm only getting between 6 or 7 KPL. Multiply your MPG by .425 to get kilometers per litre.
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ptmomma
Rookie Author Ottawa

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 6:54:54 AM

One post said it all......"Meh..."
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kenji554
Champion Author Charlotte

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 6:14:16 AM

we all use metrics now in some way. its funny when one of my equipment service manuals listed measurements as "US "and "the rest of the world".
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jrsva
Champion Author Virginia

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 4:51:29 AM

“I guess we will ask in the US why we have to change instead of the other countries and nations from ‘metric’.”

I guess one could ask but it would be a really stupid question. Metric measurements are used by most of the rest of the world. It is a unified system based on factors of 10 as opposed to our present measures, which is a melange of obsolete units with no rhyme or reason. Metric measurements are used by all branches of science, including in the US, and by the military. There are costs for conversion but these would ultimately be less than the continuing cost of maintaining our obsolete non-system.

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tomok
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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 3:46:26 AM

The push was on in the '70's to change to metric but it did Not happen. I remember seeing speed signs on the major highways with the metric speed below the English system speed. The metric signs stayed up about 3 months then were switched out for the 'standard' ones. There are many different standards in use today, from many different countries. The longer the change to metric does not happen, the more and more it is harder to sell products to other countries. There are Many products in the US built to metric standards and its just a matter of time until all things go metric. It's a very easy system to learn, it's all based on the power of 10!
Metrics for Dummies!
Let's make the official language of the US – English too. Other languages are acceptable but all signs have to have English as the main language.
Whatever the size or shape of the vehicle, Produce and ‘Drive’ vehicles with high MPG, are very reliable, have a ‘reasonable’ cost and a good ‘value’ for the money.
The price of fuel at the pump is too high!
12/22/2012!
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NedW
Champion Author Indianapolis

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 2:00:15 AM

We went to the moon using inches, feet and miles.
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58salty
Champion Author Jacksonville

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 1:14:39 AM

No lets stay different.
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rjhenn
Champion Author Des Moines

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 1:09:37 AM

Aren't most things already labeled in metric units? What size bottle of soda do you usually buy, half-gallon or 2 liter?
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pastorpaulcg
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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 12:45:34 AM

Meh
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carloco75
Champion Author Richmond

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 12:13:32 AM

Ummm...y...after thousands of years...of NOT using it...
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spud5559
Veteran Author Yakima

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Message Posted: Aug 26, 2012 12:00:46 AM

we should it's just make sense
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da_bears22
All-Star Author Chicago

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:59:05 PM

Seems like there is too much inertia to switch.
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LetemEatCake
Champion Author Oklahoma City

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:57:14 PM


Interesting article Doeslayersr....if only it weren't an opinion piece!
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MrPony
All-Star Author North Carolina

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:52:19 PM

Why should we? Let the rest of the world change to our system!!!
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Buddy2264
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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:45:18 PM

I guess we will ask in the US why we have to change instead of the other countries and nations from "metric".
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TustinDad
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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:38:36 PM

JettaKnight wrote: "Why is 32 degrees the freezing point of water and 212 degrees the boiling point?"

Legend has it that Mr. Fahrenheit thought a mixture of salt and ice was the absolute coldest temperature so he set that to 0. Then he just happened to have a fever the day he took his temperature. He had already decided the body temperature should be 100 degrees.
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TustinDad
Champion Author Orange County

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:35:42 PM

Van_Halen wrote: "Why so Obama can increase out taxes even more by taxing Liters of gasoline instead of gallons. One of the main reasons for Ethanol in gasoline is it lowers your mileage so you have to by more gasoline because the increased mileage over the last decade has hurt the Treasury!"

You make it sound like the Ethanol came during the current administration. I'm sure you can find when it started if you look hard enough. Hint: It was earlier.
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CdnLynx
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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:34:40 PM

I guess the really nasty comments re: Canada are from the ones that are absolutely terrified; sorry can't help, but smile, as it makes me chuckle. We are not your evil enemy! Some here have a terrible mindset; you must be your own worst enemy!
What's that old saying! Ah, Yes...."Resistance if futile"
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TustinDad
Champion Author Orange County

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:34:21 PM

Trinity4Eva wrote: "I am sure that the transition would go a lot faster than people think. I remember when our currency changed from German Marks to Euro......The change was done and over with in under a year. You just have to take the plunge."

That's right. Just like in Sweden in the 60's when they changed from driving on the left to driving on the right overnight. Just take the plunge and do it.
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speedys
Champion Author Utah

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:33:27 PM

We tried it once and it didn't go over very well.
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pa79th
Champion Author Pennsylvania

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:32:27 PM

Leftover article from yesterday.
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MidNJ
Champion Author New Jersey

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:29:28 PM

It is easy to just say NO!, as many prior posts have stated.

And, yes, it is confusing to understand other ways of measuring things.

However, many nations in our world use metric and my belief is we must teach this to our children, and perhaps their parents would benefit by learning metrics also.
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crawco
Rookie Author Cincinnati

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:28:11 PM

This is what makes us the best country in the world, everyone can have their own opinion!
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CdnLynx
Champion Author Ontario

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:26:47 PM

It's kind of funny in a way; personally I use both and many times here I have converted for the American consumer here at GB. I am quite comfortable with it.
When you think about it, the N. American monitory system is metric, neither countries use pounds, shillings or pence; our money is based on Dollar or 100 cents.
It's really not that hard and very surprised it has never transformed, considering it's the 21st century and the world utilizes metric.
It's understandable that people are leery, suspicious, (many scared) as they have only used the old system all their lives and to change now is considered a daunting task; this is only human nature! Granted it's just math and for some math is terrifying.
It's America's decision and if it comes to fruition, hopefully you will embrace it as it's not really that hard and it's nothing to be afraid of!
It's what you make of it, if nervous or scared it will probably be difficult.
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jrsva
Champion Author Virginia

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:26:19 PM


“Isn't that once [sic] of the reason [sic] that the Pilgrims left Europe?”

NO.
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liao
Champion Author Montreal

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:24:50 PM

Difficult for some and easy for others.
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after10
All-Star Author Hamilton

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:24:31 PM

Conversion is a extremely costly process.MPH to KM signage costs tax payers mega bucks.And thats only a drop in the bucket,when you consider the amount of time passed and money spent.Were still only semi-converted!!
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tco9436
Champion Author Connecticut

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:24:14 PM

nothing good from canada comes to the us...ie celion deon,hockey,the blue jays
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jrsva
Champion Author Virginia

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Message Posted: Aug 25, 2012 11:23:48 PM


A quick scan of the comments indicates that the nay-sayers are leading. I’ve always thought that the majority of GBs were Republicants and this pretty much proves it.
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