[time-nuts] gravity controlled pendulumn clock?

Justin Pinnix justin at fuzzythinking.com
Wed Dec 14 15:44:55 EST 2011

Contrary to popular belief, most of us in the U.S. have heard of the metric
system and understand how it works.  Personally, I agree that it is a
simpler and superior system.

But, English is the system we "think" in.  We know that if a person is 300
lbs they need to lose weight, you need to drink 8 cups of water a day, and
wish for 70 degree days.  Grandma's cookie recipe uses 1 cup of flour.
 Trying to convince 300 million people to re-learn all of that is a tough
sell when there is no obvious advantage to them.  Most are not scientists
or engineers and aren't likely to do business with a foreign country.

Those of us who are scientists and engineers likely use metric at work and
English at home.  Is that wrong?  Maybe, but we're smart people and we can
deal with it :-)

It's not like metric is totally absent.  We drink 2 liter cokes and defend
ourselves with 9mm pistols.   Our cars use mostly metric parts.  Even ham
radio operators, arguably the most jingoistic and set in the past bunch
around, get on the 80, 40, and 20 METER bands.

Furthermore, I've been to some of these countries that supposedly use the
metric system.  One of them measured distance between cities in km and
speed limits in MPH.  Now THAT was annoying!

"Progressives" tried to force Metric on the U.S. in the 1970s and it didn't
catch on.  Besides, we've got bigger standardization problems to deal with
these days - getting everyone here to speak English!

On Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 2:29 PM, <shalimr9 at gmail.com> wrote:

> I told myself I would stop after my last posts, but I can't help it.
> I do not pretend to know everything, but I am one of the relatively few in
> my circle of friends with extensive experience with both systems, and after
> 26 years here, the imperial system has simply not made a case for itself as
> far as I am concerned. It is my opinion, and a fact as far as I am
> concerned, not that it makes it a universal truth in any other frame of
> reference. Your mileage may vary.
> I agree that the decimal system is a big part of what makes me prefer the
> metric system. The meter itself is not a superior unit than the inch or the
> foot to measure anything. But there are other considerations when using one
> "system" versus the other.
> Our designers and mechanical engineers here use decimal fractions of an
> inch in specifying mechanical drawings, but raw metal stock (and tools) are
> still only available in 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 (and so on) of an inch dimensions,
> so most dimensions have to be given with 3 or 4 decimals, and even then
> they are not always right. When trying to mentally add two, three or four
> dimensions each with 4 decimals, and one or two digits to the left of the
> decimal point, it stops being fun and its easy to make mistakes.
> Somehow, that was never an issue when I was designing back in France. Most
> dimensions has 2 or 3 significant digits, making the mental juggling much
> easier.
> That was the reason for my characterization of the imperial system as
> being more error prone. I never said or implied that it was less precise.
> Precision is a function of the instrument, not the frame of reference.
> In the metric system, screws and wires are referenced by their diameter,
> not a reference number that requires a table to figure out how big they
> are. I understand these numbers correspond to something, they are not
> arbitrary, but while they may simplify "some" calculations, in everyday
> tasks, these numbers tend to complicate life instead of simplifying it.
> Here, every designer has tables after tables plastered on their walls. In
> France, I do not remember that we needed so many.
> Another small thing I miss is that a liter of water weighs a kg (under
> reference conditions, I forgot what that was :). Then the specific weight
> of various materials only has to be known by their "density" (ratio of
> specific weight compared to water). It makes all sorts of calculations (
> and guestimations) easy.
> But its just my opinion :)
> Didier
> Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless thingy while I do other things...
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chuck Harris <cfharris at erols.com>
> Sender: time-nuts-bounces at febo.com
> Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 10:30:34
> To: Discussion of precise time and frequency measurement<
> time-nuts at febo.com>
> Reply-To: Discussion of precise time and frequency measurement
>        <time-nuts at febo.com>
> Subject: Re: [time-nuts] gravity controlled pendulumn clock?
> Hal Murray wrote:
> ...
> >
> > If you were an alien landing on Earth for the first time, which system
> would
> > make more sense to you?
> Ah!   A Godcentric view of the universe.  Decimal is an arbitrary
> number system that came about purely because we had 10 fingers, and
> a brain that could only think of using them to count on.
> Your hands are probably right now fondling a model of a life form that
> would find the metric system to be quite foreign, and unfriendly...
> Surely you should count using a number system based on an even power
> of 2?
> There was a time when I spent more time doing arithmetic in octal
> than in decimal.  If humans had been born with 4 fingers on each
> hand, we would be talking about how certain we were that an alien
> would find an octal centric measurement system made more sense.
> Metric is purely arbitrary, as are all of the variants on the
> English system.  Life would go just as smoothly if we had standardized
> on the inch, pound, and gallon, and used decimal fractions and multiples
> to represent measurements larger and smaller than the unit.
> -Chuck Harris
> OBTW, as time nuts, we are steeped in the two units of measure that
> are decidedly non-metric: seconds, and Hz.  Think about it...
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