Friday, June 06, 2008

A gram of prevention is worth...

Let's visit metric again.

Nixon, I believe, said we had to go metric. I-44 in Missouri even had some mileage signs in metric.

Reagan, I'm sure, nixed the whole idea.

Here's the problem for Americans, metric uses Greek and Latin prefixes:

One Meter is roughly 39 inches.

A Greek prefix mean multiply.
kilometer is 1,000 meters;
megameter is one million meters;
gigameter is one billion meters;
terameter is one trillion meters.

A Latin prefix mean divide.
centimeter is one-hundredth of meter;
millimeter is one-thousandth of a meter;
micrometer is one-millionth of a meter;
nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.

Americans, Greek, Latin <-- see the basic problem.

Plus, the prefixes mean that measurements required polysyllabic words. We don't like that. Except for 'gallon' we're used to single-syllable units of measurement.

inch, foot/feet, mile, quart, pint, pound, ton, -- even ounce is one syllable!

We'll use "liter" but only because it sound like a bunch of kittens in West Texas! :)


Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

That's some pretty sharp insight. I'd never stopped to realize the Greek-Latin thing they got going on there. That's pretty brilliant actually.

I love the look of the sign. "13 mi or 21 km". Looks like multiple choice.

Here in Oregon we had just one set of freeway signs that had kilometers on it, and that was an exit for a small town between here (Portland) and the state capital (Salem) called Woodburn, that most people pass by unless you're getting of I-5 for a fast-food meal or some fuel. Naturally that's about as far as it got.

I understand, however, that Interstate 19, from Nogales AZ to Tucson AZ, is signposted in kilometers as a nod to the fact that Mexico uses SI.

So we got that going for us.

Amy in StL said...

Dude, I don't even like to convert between Tablespoons and Cups when baking. I'd have to carry my HP calculator everywhere if we went SI. And people already think I'm a geek!

moni said...

I know California has multiple roadways with both miles and kilometers. I doubt anyone pays any attention to the kilometers unless they are tourists.