back to article US space programme in shock metric conversion

We are sure our readers have been enjoying NASA's footage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch to the ISS earlier today, but amid the excitement, you may have missed another historic moment for the US space programme. Listen carefully... That's right, at around 1:10, a mission control operative explains: "Altitude 5.3 kilometres, …

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  1. Mike 140
    Headmaster

    the civilised world of SI

    It's been a pleasant 295 Kelvins today.

    1. DN4
      WTF?

      Re: the civilised world of SI

      It's been a pleasant 71.33 degrees of Fahrenheit today.

      Is that tropical heat or blistering cold? Have no idea.

      1. Jan 0
        Coat

        Re: the civilised world of SI

        I have little idea of what 71.33 degrees Fahrenheit feels like*. It's as alien to me as 71.33 degrees Rankine, Réaumur or Rømer. Kelvin at least has a sensible anchor for 0 degrees, but I can't see any justification for the intervals used. Why is the degree Kelvin a primary unit? Couldn't we define temperature in terms of something like the thermal energy in a Mole of Hydrogen?

        *Ok, I know that it's colder than my body at 98.4 F and warmer than the best freezing mixture I could make (0 F).

        Coat, in case 71.33 F is chilly.

      2. Toggi3
        Boffin

        Re: the civilised world of SI

        71.33 F is pleasant room temp, fyi.

        1. DN4

          Re: the civilised world of SI

          Well, I got the number by converting 295 K using units(1) so I actually know what temperature 71.33 F means. But without that I'd be quite lost.

    2. Bob Armstrong

      Re: the civilised world of SI

      The CO2 global warming scam would have a harder time if people knew the total change in measured mean temperature since before the industrial revolution has been from about 288 to 288.8 .

  2. Darryl

    Good luck with that

    In most of the US, the Metric system is still seen as some kind of commie plot.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Good luck with that

      That's "cheese-scarfing surrender monkey trick".

    2. laird cummings

      Re: Good luck with that

      Never mind the jingoism... There's the entrenched tail of legacy systems and social inertia. Not so much that them dang Yuro-peeans use it, but more along the line of "why should I have to re-learn how to measure things? The old system works just fine for me." Add to that the "well have to replace everything issue." There's an entire infrastructure that will need re-working - from our road sinage (and there's a LOT of that!) to machining and tools, down to the very fasteners we use.

      That's a huge undertaking, and there frankly isn't much political will for it.

      The Metric System (which most of us frankly *can* use quite well, when pressed) will simply have to continue its slow infiltration.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Good luck with that

        In many cases there's no practical purpose for changing anything, it's all cost and zero or minimum benefit. For example why go through the effort of (a) changing every single road speed limit sign in the US from miles to km (b) changing all US-made vehicle speedometers to show km/h, considering there are probably a huge number of US-made cars that have speedos only in mph and not in km/h (c) getting people used to the new system, especially since an old "50" will become a new "80", ie there will be a tendency for people to overspeed considerably if they misinterpret the sign.

        The result will be a spike in speed-related accidents for a few years, which will gradually return to baseline (ie no improvement over pre-change that can be attributed to the change). It will be the same for volumes and weights of groceries etc. where there is a huge volume of things to be measured, and the measure only really matters within the US.

        The only things that would benefit conversion to SI units are units used internationally, on a relatively small scale, and calculation-intensive metrics that would benefit having things divide neatly into tens and thousands rather than twelfths and sixteenths. So things like the space program, civil aviation, heavy industrial engineering

    3. MrT
      Thumb Up

      Re: Good luck with that

      Small steps - notice they still quoted the downrange as a fraction... ;-)

      1. S4qFBxkFFg

        Re: Good luck with that

        At least it wasn't in twelfths.

    4. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Good luck with that

      Commie Plot, Curious they think that, seeing as as the French invented it over 100 years before Communism and the French supplied the Statue of Liberty and helped them against the English in the War of Independence. Odd.

      1. Jeff from California
        Holmes

        Re: Good luck with that

        Mage, they've spent the last almost 40 years dismantling what had been one of the finest education systems in human history and replacing it with creationism, gossip, No Child Left Behind, and the Kardashians. (You may quibble about which of the four is more devastating to young intellects.)

        As an American, I would be very surprised if there was any large-scale social, political or philosophical leadership coming out of the midsection of the North American continent for some years, if not decades. We're falling into the abyss of our very own Cultural Revolution, and we haven't yet even conceived of a 'bottom', let alone come within a parsec of hitting it. Things will get unfathomably worse before they start getting better, which is one reason why I'm no longer physically there.

    5. G2
      FAIL

      Re: Good luck with that

      well, to give my point of view, from Eastern Europe, (and maybe for most of the rest of the world) here the US is mostly viewed as a redneck country with the border rednecks willing to almost rape and anal probe you if you dare to visit and WILL kick arrest and deport you even for posting twitter jokes (TSA checkpoints). The USA's new logo for promoting tourism is: "Come and visit the USA, strip for the TSA!"

      1. Yag
        Coffee/keyboard

        "Come and visit the USA, strip for the TSA!"

        And here goes my cup of Earl Grey...

      2. elderlybloke
        Pint

        Re: Good luck with that

        What the fuck does TSA mean?

        Down here in the South Pacific on dream time I haven't a clue.

        Those DamnYankees with their 3 alpha codes

    6. Levente Szileszky
      Trollface

      Re: Good luck with that

      Provided "most of us" = "people over 60 with no engineering or scientific background"

    7. Torben Mogensen

      Re: Good luck with that

      "In most of the US, the Metric system is still seen as some kind of commie plot."

      Or even as ungodly. "If inches and feet were good enough for Jesus, they are good enough for us!"

      1. mhenriday
        Boffin

        Jesus ? Do US feet and inches really go back that far ?

        I had understood that the English measure used in the US dates from the end of the 13th century, but that John Wayne and «the West was won with/in/by feet and inches» had settled the matter for all time in the good old US of A ! But then again, John Wayne was probably a Jesus avatar - or was it the other way 'round ?...

        Henri

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good luck with that

      "In most of the US, the Metric system is still seen as some kind of commie plot."

      Yet I suppose the very same people don't have a problem with the fact there are 100 cents in a dollar.

  3. Steve Evans

    "even if "six-tenths of a kilometre" still has a ring of old school about it."

    Worse than that, they haven't twigged the simplicity of the metric system allows them to just move the decimal point and make that 6 hundred meters.

    1. Bill Neal

      Re: "even if "six-tenths of a kilometre" still has a ring of old school about it."

      the simplicity of the metric system allows you to show 1/3 of a meter as 0.3333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333... and so on. The metric/decimal system hates those pesky thirds.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Bill Neal - Re: "even if "six-tenths of a kilometre" still has a ring of old school about it."

        Do you really believe that 1/3 of an inch has less decimals ? Prove it and I'll convert to US system on the spot.

      2. Ronny Cook

        Re: "even if "six-tenths of a kilometre" still has a ring of old school about it."

        The amazing thing is that you can, if needed, still describe a third of a metre as a third of a metre.

        Or you can give it as a decimal, then convert to metres / kilometres / centimetres / millimetres / ... by shifting the decimal point around.

        By the way, for those in yankeeland fishing for a short way to say "kilometre", everybody I know measures both distance and speed in "kay" (so 60k can be 60km or 60kph, depending on context) and weight in "kilos" or "grams".

        1. Michael Dunn

          Re: "even if "six-tenths of a kilometre" still has a ring of old school about it."

          Not to mention salaries.

          Anyway, the US doesn't seem to have any difficulties with using 'K' for memory capacity, as in "Who could ever want more that 640K?" to quote a famous college drop-out.

        2. Spikehead

          Re: "even if "six-tenths of a kilometre" still has a ring of old school about it."

          The most common abbreviation for km is Klicks. So they could have referred to the distance as "Point 6 of a klick" downrange..

          1. Rob Carriere

            Re: "even if "six-tenths of a kilometre" still has a ring of old school about it."

            Ah, but is that an Olympic-sized klick?

      3. PT

        Re: "even if "six-tenths of a kilometre" still has a ring of old school about it."

        I show a third of a meter as "about a foot", or "thirteen inches" if I need more accuracy.

    2. Levente Szileszky
      Thumb Up

      Re: "even if "six-tenths of a kilometre" still has a ring of old school about it."

      Yeah, I was laughing at the same thing... :D

  4. Stevie Silver badge
    Happy

    Bah!

    I think you'll find that's *meters*.

    We don't spell in French here in the land of the free(dom fries).

    1. Greg J Preece
      Trollface

      Re: Bah!

      What's the name of that language again? :-p

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah!

        I dunno, it's that bastardized low German / Latin / French / Norse that we inherited from you limies!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bah!

          It still has rules, and that is not how you pluralise "limey".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bah!

            Considering the screwed-up nature of English grammar, you could spell "limeys" five different ways and still get it right (from one point of view or another).

            As long as you're changing to a numbering system that makes sense, why not adopt a phonetic alphabet, too? Unifon, anyone?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Bah! - phonetics

              Phonetics alphabets cannot work due to those so thick they cannot even talk their native language.

              Like those who think the "da afe let'r ov de alfabet is hache".

    2. Robert Heffernan
      Headmaster

      Re: Bah!

      Sorry to be a pedant but a tenth of a kilometer is a hectometer

    3. Stuart Duel
      Thumb Down

      Re: Bah!

      No, it is spelt METRE. A "meter" is a device for measuring usage such as gas or water.

      1. Robert Heffernan
        Facepalm

        Re: Bah!

        It can be Metre or Meter, the same as Colour is Color or Colour, and all those other words that is spelled differently in different countries. It all depends on the local dialect of english spoken.

    4. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Bah!

      A metre is a unit of measurement, a meter is a measuring device.

      Like the one on my desk that tells me how much of a berk a commentard is, that's just wandered off scale 'cos I forgot to recalibrate it for USAians.

      1. MrZoolook
        Thumb Up

        Re: Bah!

        Quote: A metre is a unit of measurement, a meter is a measuring device. Like the one on my desk that tells me how much of a berk a commentard is, that's just wandered off scale 'cos I forgot to recalibrate it for USAians.

        See, that's why we need a consistent global unit of measurement!

  5. mike 32
    Thumb Up

    We noticed it when watching...

    but then Musk is (originally) South African, and down here don't bother foot-pounds-per-square-inch no more.

  6. NWLB

    Not likely.

    It is fine for NASA, or the private sector, to use metric. Likewise, if it was once, seemingly required that the American or British people had to learn it, that is no longer the case. Computers do the math. Double labels and such are common and easy for consumer purposes. Any progress in moving people to use metric terms in common speech will be entirely incidental, not intentional.

    1. This Side Up
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not likely.

      Had to learn it? We've been teaching metric units for the last sixty years. We just can't use them because the conservative governments of both main parties don't think there are any votes in it.

      I look forward to seeing some meterage of the flight!

      1. Dazed and Confused

        Re: Not likely.

        > We just can't use them because the conservative governments of both main parties don't think there are any votes in it.

        Rather they know they'd get their sorry arses righteously tanned by an electorate who can't see why they should be pushed around.

        If it ain't broken don't fix it.

        1. FutureShock999

          Broken

          It's broken, trust me. The world is now a place of global trade, and and one billion Chinese and one billion Indians, to say nothing of another few hundred million Europeans, all use metric. The 300 million in the US are hopelessly fighting a loosing, and expensive, war, as US companies cannot easily export or interoperate with global markets. It IS costing the US jobs, and profitability. The fact that no one wants to talk about that politically out of some sense of jingoism doesn't mean it isn't real.

          1. Bill Neal
            FAIL

            Re: Broken

            Really, that doesn't make any sense when a simple calculator or cell phone can do the conversions in an instant. Outsourcing is all about wages & taxes.

            1. Jeff from California
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Broken

              It doesn't make sense from a practical standpoint — but then, the reason 'Murricans still use Imperial weights and measures has nothing to do with practicality and everything to do with emotional symbolism.

              By pig-headedly sticking to Imperial units, and forcing all the companies that want to sell their products both in central North America and the Free(r) World to spend Saganesque billions of dollars in redundancy (labelling, packaging, inventory management and so on), 'Murricans are doing their considerable best to ensure that their products have a hard time being sold outside their borders, accelerating the out-of-control trade imbalance and hastening the demise of what once was the United States of America as a meaningful player in world trade. Maybe when world trade moves away from the US dollar as the global reserve currency, people will finally begin to understand how badly they've been screwed and why; my guess is they'll keep on lapping up the corporate propaganda that's replaced American news reporting and continue to blame every imaginable outside influence that scapegoats them having to take actual responsibility for and control of what in living memory was our country.

              Things are going to keep accelerating downhill, and this is a poster-child-level reason for "why".

              Paris for her corporately-groomed, information-free symbolism of what's wrong with America.

              1. techfreak
                Megaphone

                Re: Broken

                Imperial units? Now wait. There's the US gallon (3.78541178 liters) and the imperial gallon (4.54609188 liters). Not all gallons are created equally, and don't forget the last decimal, please. Then, there's the fact that the US does not realize it is already metric. NIST *officially* designates 1 inch as 2.54 cm. Laboratories, the medical field, and the US military uses SI units. In my kitchen, no.

        2. mhenriday
          FAIL

          Perhaps it is broke and has been for a couple of centuries and more ?

          http://articles.latimes.com/1999/oct/01/news/mn-17288

          Welcome to the other 95 % of the world !...

          Henri

      2. Scott 1
        Stop

        Re: Not likely.

        Does the U.S. government require that:

        - all our scales read in pounds?

        - our food containers are measured in ounces and pounds?

        - our drinks are usually measured in ounces, pints, quarts, and gallons?

        - our meteorologists report the temperature in Fahrenheit?

        - our sports teams measure their fields, courts, and arenas in feet?

        - our construction industries primarily refer to feet and inches when specifying material sizes?

        (side note: many government construction contracts use metric)

        - our sportscasters talk about a linebacker's size in feet and pounds or a baseball pitcher's speed in mph?

        AFAIK, the only thing our federal gov't can do is *recommend* that the states label their highways and roadways in kilometers and KPH.

        1. Bill Neal
          Devil

          Re: Not likely.

          The Freemasons are quite fond of the system. There has been evidence to support that the modern yard was even used as a standard for megalithic construction. Old habits will not go away easily.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not likely.

          IANAL, but that being said, I was a Political Science major, and I can answer alot of these questions for you.

          >Does the U.S. government require that:

          >- all our scales read in pounds?

          No, but food scales in supermarkets and such are regulated by the individual state governments and as such are generally required to be accurate in pounds as well as in Metric.

          >- our food containers are measured in ounces and pounds?

          I believe the FDA requires it, as does the USDA, yes, though there are always metric weights on packages too, which I believe is also required.

          >- our drinks are usually measured in ounces, pints, quarts, and gallons?

          Same with food, the FDA and USDA require that measurements be in both metric and customary.

          >- our meteorologists report the temperature in Fahrenheit?

          Thats one Ive never understood, because a good number of divisions inside the National Weather Service, like the Space Weather Prediction Center and National Hurricane Center do most of their work in metric units. Celsius kind of sucks.

          >- our sports teams measure their fields, courts, and arenas in feet?

          No, but some sports governing bodies specify feet, yards, meters, kilometers or miles for their venues. Look at the International Rugby Board's laws for Rugby Union, it specifies that the field should be measured in meters. On the same coin, look at the NBA's rules for basketball, their measurements are in feet.

          >- our construction industries primarily refer to feet and inches when specifying material sizes?

          Alot of that has to do with building codes, which are a State issue, not Federal.

          (side note: many government construction contracts use metric)

          ^^True, though Ive noticed that some GSA contracts tend to use customary for whatever reason.

          - our sportscasters talk about a linebacker's size in feet and pounds or a baseball pitcher's speed in mph?

          Well they could talk about sizes and speeds in metric, but not too many people would really understand.

          The Feds could change everything over to Metric, it could be done legally, but it would cost much more than it would save and they realized this in 1977.

          The better idea is to convert specific Agencies and Administrations, like NASA, that have a scientific, military related, or international mission as well as parts of specific other agencies like FEMA, which for instance still uses Americanized measurements for Radioactive contamination on their radiac sets and such, like the Rad, Roentgen, and Rem. While the very same radiac in use by the Army will measure in Sieverts and Grays.

          1. Michael Dunn
            Facepalm

            Re: Not likely.

            Perhaps we could also at last get American cooking recipes in terms that the rest of the world can understand: I ask you, how do you measure a quarter of a cup of butter?

            1. Ragarath

              Re: Not likely.

              You buy a £1.99 set of cups from the supermarket as my wife finally had to when using recipies from the other side of the pond.

              Like all measurements there are implents to measure it. You just need to have them.

              Just the same as someone without scales asking how they measure a kilogram of flour or something along that vein of thought.

            2. graeme leggett

              Re: Not likely.

              More than that, why measure something that is (to all intents and purposes) solid in unit of liquid (or at least free-flowing) measurement?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not likely.

                Urgh, why would you want to cook an american recipe anyway? Processed foods are not raw ingredients, onions do not come in a packet, and Monterey Jack is NOT CHEESE.

                http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Creamy-Monterey-Jack-Soup

                Jesus. Taste of nursing home more like.

                1. PT

                  Re: Not likely.

                  "...Monterey Jack is NOT CHEESE."

                  It's worse than that. If you read the label on a well known brand of supermarket American cheese slices, it clearly states them to be "cheese flavored FOOD SUBSTITUTE". Actual words. Not only is it not cheese, but it's not food either.

            3. Bill Neal
              Trollface

              1/4 cup of butter?

              2oz. Of course many sticks of butter here have the wrapper labeled in both systems, and most recipes would call for a 1/4 stick. Also every 'merican measuring cup I have seen has both metric & "standard" (as we like to call it)

      3. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Not likely.

        "Had to learn it? We've been teaching metric units for the last sixty years."

        you don't need to learn it, you just need to have it explained..once, ten minutes tops and thats it for life

        no need to worry about insane conversion factors how many bushels per second in a foot pound per acre etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc

        all we need to do now is decimalise time, dump all them awkward 60's from the business and we'll be set

      4. Charles Manning

        They'd just redefine meters

        Just like Alabama - or wherever - tried to redefine pi = 3, a federal attempt to force metres on people would just see some state defining the meter as being the same as 1/1000 of a mile.

        It is after all a meter. Can't expect that to be the same as a metre.

  7. Reality - What a Concept
    Coat

    Where have you been for the last FIVE years?

    NASA Finally going Metric? NASA went Metric in 2007!

    NASA Finally Goes Metric by SPACE.com StaffDate: 08 January 2007 Time: 04:00 PM ET

    They just didn't bother converting the Shuttle documentation, but every new program uses metric units of measure, even if the parts are still based on inches. Too many mix-ups with metric tonne vs imperial ton, etc.

    "My Jacket gets fourty rods to the hogs head and that's the way I likes it"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Err...

    I'm fairly sure that I read a story in the last year or so (and I'm fairly sure it was on the 'Reg) about NASA going metric for future missions/projects.

    1. Naughtyhorse
      Facepalm

      Re: Err...

      I recall speaking with some merkin infrastructure engineers a few years back and gently ribbing them about what is 7/16 of a mile in furlongs etc etc when they told me that in some states some utilities have been metric for years. causes no end of fun when the electricity company is laying cable by the yard and trying to avoid that big ol water main thats about twenty meters from the road intersection..

      Makes you wonder why nasa never got some of them blokes to at least check their sums

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Boffin

        Re: Err...

        "what is 7/16 of a mile in furlongs etc etc "

        Well, it's 3½, obviously. And, since the meter is based on the furlong (no, really) that's easy to convert to French units - it's 700m.

        The metric system is based on the odd proposition that if evolution selected ten fingers for us then it must be a good base for measuring things. It's not.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Err...

          I get the whole factorisation argument, and i concede that 12's 16's etc make sense from that regard, and 10 is particularly useless for dividing stuff up.

          But i think where decimal wins is in conversion factors, which (excluding those where time is a factor) always come out as 10's or multiples thereof. we all count in base 10 (speak for yourself earthling) it therefore makes sense to measure everything in the same base we use to count.

          qed

          (or not as the case may be)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's like this.

    Here in my house, I use Fahrenheit, and the girlie uses Centrigrade.

    So the obvious and correct inference is that the metric system is for girls.

    Fact.

    1. Al Jones

      Re: It's like this.

      I know how you feel - my missus is way smarter than me, too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      Re: It's like this.

      by the way, the word Centigrade has been deprecated a long time ago (1948 if you don't feel like reading).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's like this.

        but it is graduated in 1 hundred parts!

      2. L.B.
        Thumb Down

        Re: RodB

        Perhaps your reading comprehension is not that good, as from the link you used:

        "For scientific use, "Celsius" is the term usually used with "centigrade" otherwise continuing to be in common use."

        Note the last part.

      3. Jan 0
        Headmaster

        Re: It's like this.

        It may have been deprecated, but I don't know a word for the silliness of reversing the sense of Celsius!

        On the original Celsius scale 0 was the boiling point of water and 100 was the freezing point of water at Standard Atmospheric Pressure. Centigrade was never subject to that particular ambiguity, but all temperature scales are quaintly irrational.

    3. Levente Szileszky
      Stop

      Re: It's like this.

      She could just be the smart one - you couldn't even figure out how to register...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a unit for that.

    Hectometres. You don't hear that prefix much, though for some reason hectolitres is what brewers measure beer in. 'Sides, plenty of people say awkward things. Thousands of kilos? Megagrammes, really. Or more practically, tonnes. Millions of kilometres? Gigametres. And so on. Maybe NASA can do some good getting the rest of the country to get with the times, too.

  11. Deadlock Victim
    Devil

    To quote Gandpa Simpson

    "The metric system is the tool of the devil. My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it!"

    1. Frederic Bloggs
      Coat

      Re: To quote Gandpa Simpson

      40 rods = 1 furlong per 48, 54 or 63 gallons, depending on which sort of hogshead you are storing your fuel in (ale/beer/wine respectively). That is spectacularly crap consumption, even for a merkin gas guzzler. Or even an Abrams tank.

      I'll get my coat. I clearly need to get out more.

  12. Boris S.

    Congrats!

    Hope all goes well with the docking, etc.

  13. K. Adams
    Alert

    "US space programme in shock metric conversion"

    Am I the only one who read the title and immediately thought of the Mars Climate Orbiter?

    -- Wikipedia: Mars Climate Orbiter

    -- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Climate_Orbiter

    1. Anonymous John
      Unhappy

      No.

      SpaceX using metric, and the ISS using Imperial. What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No.

        "the ISS using Imperial."

        Linkz or retract.

        1. Anonymous John

          Re: No.

          Only joking. I have a good feeling about this mission.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    all or none

    Let me know when you expect to implement metric time.

    1. Mike 140
      Pint

      Re: all or none

      Could be tricky. There is no official SI equivalent to the year.

      Enough of this. Time for a few 568mls.

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: all or none

        I propose we alter the orbit and spin of Earth so that the result of dividing the time to orbit the sun by the time taken for a full rotation of the earth is exactly divisible by 10.

        I propose 10 hours in a day, 10 days in a week, 10 weeks in a month and 10 months in a year. A year would contain 10,000 hours rather than the existing 8766 hours.

  15. Zebo-the-Fat
    Happy

    Welcome!

    I would like to welcome our friends over in the colonies to the 20th century!

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/happy_32.png

  16. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "We are directly under the Sun... ...now."

    "Altitude 5.3 kilometres, velocity 225 metres per second, and downrange distance of six-tenths of a kilometre."

    Those numbers seem overly-precise considering that they would have been outside the allowed significant figures allowance by the time he spoke the first word.

    "Altitude 5. ah 5. ah 5.5 .6 .7 .8 .9 6.1 6.3 6.5 .7 .9 7!..."

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Suspicious

    0.6 mile is a KM (to at least 1 sig dig).

    Did someone pull a NASA Mars Orbiter again? Maybe they really meant 1.6KM... 1/0.6 if you ignore the sig dig for a moment.

    The only claim to fame for SI is ease of units conversion. At the bottom of the stack, until recently, were just lumps of iridium alloy stashed away in France. Purely arbitrary, might as well use the length of King somebody or others arm. Now of course, there are purely arbitrary numbers of wavelengths.... (for length), that at least pretty closely match the lumps of iridium, well, more or less unless you look really closely. As for mass, well, that seems to be shrinking for some reason but we won't go there. Probably a plot to debase gold or something by the French desperate to reduce their deficit by making it look like their treasury has more troy ounces (hahaha) of gold... well, if you convert to metric anyway.

    We'll ignore the volt, what a debacle that was! No, not the Volt, the volt (we all know the Volt is a fire waiting to happen, or Ampera to anyone in the EU... I refer to the SI volt, which has two versions depending on when your deeply erudite research paper was written...).

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Stop

      Re: Suspicious

      ".....or Ampera to anyone in the EU...."

      Er, no. The Chevrolet badged variant is a Volt over here too. Only Vauxhall / Opel ones are badged as Amperas.

  18. Tim Ward

    Wot about aviation?

    We're still having to cope with:

    feet and meters and nautical miles

    for measuring distance, and

    liters and US gallons and UK gallons and pounds and kilograms

    for measuring fuel, and

    pounds and inches and kilograms and centimeters

    for measuring balance, and

    knots and miles per hour and kilometers per hour

    for measure speed, and so on and so on. Yes there are accidents which are partly or wholly caused by using the wrong units or getting conversions wrong.

    1. bep

      Re: Wot about aviation?

      Well I think the justitication was that the aviation industry was dominated by the USA, but I wonder if that's still true? High time it was converted to metric if you ask me, although I might avoid flying for a couple of years when the actual conversion is taking place!

  19. iainr

    But Britin is metric, last week I ordered 10m of 1/2" piping and a couple of 2m lengths of 2"x4".

    Working things out on the bike is a bit trickier as they don't give mpg (or KM/l) figures but I work on the basis that 17l of 4star will get me about 150miles (at 76 mph)

    1. MrZoolook
      FAIL

      Quote: But Britin is metric, last week I ordered 10m of 1/2" piping and a couple of 2m lengths of 2"x4".

      And London is only 93 miles from here. But before I drive it, I am going to buy a pint of milk and top up my tank with fuel. Only a few litres ... because I get 45 miles-per-gallon... Boy am I glad we went decimal :/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        before you go don't forget to check that you have a minimum of 1.6 mm of tread on those second hand tyres you bought for your 16 inch alloy wheels.

        And don't go to close to the car in front, even at 20mph you need 6 metres to think and another 6 to brake (http://www.stoppingdistances.org.uk/simulator/Stopping_Distances.html)

    2. Kristian Walsh

      Measure them...

      2"x4" timber is never 2 x 4 inches anyway: the dimensions are the freshly-cut size (and for European timber are metric 50x100mm). As the wood dries, it shrinks.

      Half-inch pipe is actually 22mm OD . No, that's not half an inch, and neither is the bore (inner diameter of "half-inch" pipe is 10mm), but then, "old" half-inch pipe wasn't half an inch either...

      I lived in Germany for a while, and often heard people asking the butcher for a "Pfund" of meat - they got 500g, not a pound, and a pound wouldn't have been 454g anyway - the old Bavarian "Pfund" weight was 560g. And that is the reason why we all gave up on "traditional" measures: they weren't the same everywhere.

      Even now, compare US and UK mpg figures. American cars are thirsty, but not that thirsty (also, the testing regimes differ, but that's something you can only see if you convert the quoted figures to litres per km)

    3. Jan 0

      I think you'll find that your 2"x4" came as 1.8 or 2.1m (i.e 6 or 7 feet!). Timber is sold in lengths which are multiples of 30cm (i.e ~feet). I'm amused by the way I can still buy, for example, "une livre de pommes" in France.

      76 miles at 150mph could be more fun on my bike, but I'd need a bigger tank:(

  20. Big-nosed Pengie

    About bloody time

    But old habits die hard. I watched the launch and the announcer was using imperial units - miles, pounds, football fields and so on.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Re: About bloody time

      <pedant>

      i think the football field is technically a reg unit!

      <\pedant>

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html

      1. Jeff from California
        Headmaster

        That depends.

        Which 'football' are we referring to; real football or the American spectacle of the same name?

        Ah. You said 'field'. Everybody knows football is played on a 'pitch'. That resolves that confusion. Carry on…

    2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: About bloody time

      Surely, they switched from imperial to metric mid-flight.

  21. Dunhill
    Devil

    ok ... for our american friends .. something very simple (in metric)

    we have a hole in the ground

    long 9 meters

    wide 6 meters

    deep 3 meters

    we fill the hole with water

    how much does the water weight in kg or pounds??

    and how much time you needed to calculate the result ?

    to help a little bit:

    1 liter of water weights 1 kg

    and

    9 meters = 9.84251969 yard = 29 feet 621⁄64 inches

    1. Dunhill

      forgot this

      1 cubik meter (m3) of water has 1000 liter and weights 1000 kilo

    2. graeme leggett

      Or mixing the units

      convert to litres, divide by 4.55 and mulitply by 10?

      I imp gallon = 4.546 litres, 1 imp gallon weighs 10 lb

  22. AbortRetryFail
    Joke

    Huh?

    Never mind six tenths of a kilometre... what's that in mega-linguine?

  23. Jaymax
    Coat

    Six tenths of a kilometre?

    at that point, it was more like nine sixteenths of a kilometer downrange.

    -tsk-

    1. Jeff from California
      Go

      Re: Six tenths of a kilometre?

      Do you really want to listen to an announcer that talks fast enough to give accurate position fixes on an object moving that fast?

  24. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Upping the Ante ......... for Global Operating Devices

    Control Words, Create Worlds. Life is just such a simply complex operation ...... but there is an extraordinary knack, known by only a few, in leading it with IT Command and Control of Future Events and Virtual Realities?

    And shared as a question so that you have a choice to agree or disagree ........ but that would have no impact at all on the few who would growing and would be exercising such extraordinary knacks.

  25. JimmyPage Silver badge

    "Mythbusters" will have more impact

    (honestly, I watch it for the science, I didn't realise Kari was a girls name).

    Watching older MB broadcasts (on Quest) I was struck by how they plugged "the science" whilst talking in feet, inches and pounds. At some point they must have had a policy shift, because I noticed the newer ones (Discovery channel) are now metric. For me, the intersting point was they don't feel the need to explain the units - so clearly there's an assumption that their core demographic is familiar enough with metric.

    My Dad's from "yourup", so I grew up metric at home too ...

  26. Arachnoid

    Maybe we shoud divide the day into periods of 20 hours/day,100 minuites/hour for those who find mathamatics hard to do without a calculator.

  27. Arachnoid

    Oh and lets not foget the Gallon which Americans still havent got right

    The imperial (UK) gallon, defined as 4.54609 L, is used in some Commonwealth countries and was originally based on the volume of 10 pounds of water at 62 °F (17 °C). (A US liquid gallon of water weighs about 8.33 pounds at the same temperature.) The imperial fluid ounce is defined as 1⁄160 of an imperial gallon.

  28. taxman

    Imperialistic Americans

    I always thought US Imperial was slightly bigger than UK Imperial. So when NASA say the bird is x miles high - just how high is that?

    Then again 'they' had an 88mm whereas 'we' had x pounders.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Imperialistic Americans

      I think the only US unit that is bigger than the Imperial (avoirdupois) is the "fluid ounce" and then only by about a millilitre (or 1.5 ml if its the FDA's fluid ounce which is exactly 30ml).

      Their Pint (both wet and dry) , Quart, Gallon, hundredweight and ton are all short measure.

      1. Santa from Exeter

        Re: Imperialistic Americans

        Actually, their gallon is spot on, and so is ours.

        A gallon is not a fixed amount, it depends on what you are measuring.

        The American gallon is also known as the wine, or Queen Anne gallon.

        There are/were also dry gallon measures.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This reminds me of the film "Brazil"...

    Best line in a film ever:

    "Brazil" where Bob Hoskins the Central Services repairman looks at the bung which doesn't fit the hole in the floor cut by the other Central Services department... and says "Oh no, they've only gone and gone back to bloody metric!"

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Far as I've know NASA has always use metric. Metric is used in science and in medicine in the USA.

  31. mhenriday
    Pint

    I propose that the Reg adopt Plank units

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_units

    After all, as the article points out, «... Planck units, by setting the numerical values of five fundamental constants to unity, nondimensionalizes and simplifies many fundamental equations of physics.»

    Exceptions will of course have to be made for Reg bloggers LP and AO....

    Henri

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Before, NASA used both, metric and the other one... and had to do conversions .. I believe it's being blamed for a serious accident, perhaps a shuttle crashing, or just a rocket.. whichever.. wasted money at either rate... cuz someone messed up on the math conversions.. it makes sense to have a good standard.. about time. Maybe it'll save a life & money.

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