The metric system was met with skepticism in the States, as it was here originally, because they suspected the marketplace would adjust their product ‘down’ to the closest metric unit, screwing the consumer, which did happen to any country that has done so. Since a liter is slightly less than a quart, the producers gladly reduced from the quantity of a 2 quart milk container to 2 liters but kept the price the same!

But now we are getting a reversal here also due to free-trade. Originally, some things like weight of products, should have increased. For instance, a 2lb brick of freeze-dried coffee was increased a little because the next closest full measure in metric was 1kg (2lb = 907.18 g = 0.90718 kg) and 1lb bricks of butter or tubs of margarine went up to 500 g (1/2 kg). Now, they’ve screwed us again and decided to reuse the American quantities because they are smaller and the companies can gain more profit. But our metric system is still labelled. So now we have butter and margarine quantities that say, 454 g (1lb) and coffee which sells as 907 g (2 lbs). (We lost nearly a 100 g in quantity but pay the same over night!)

These are the real reasons why America has not changed over! It’s about economic distrust, not because of any real difficulty with the system or due to tradition.

Except that 2 liters is 2.11338 quarts. That’s more milk.

You’re right. I had the argument in mind from intuition and then went to look for the evidence. I found the quart/liter comparison in error and used milk as an example without justification. I am completely for the metric system and grew up with it except for my early years in the States. But I think that the skepticism in political economics is the main justification for discouraging change there. That was the point of my argument. The more confused the consumer is about their math, the easier it is to alter quantities.

I’ve never understood why people opposed to the metric system insist they do not like to convert any measurement back into the system they are used to. That is like saying: “I wont learn French because I do not want to go to the trouble of translating something in French back into English.” But if you knew French you wouldn’t have to translate anything back into English because you would understand it in French already! Same with measurements in the metric system. It is a matter of getting used to and developing a feeling for what a kilogram (or kilo) of meat weights and how long a meter is. I stress, you DO NOT have to change it back into pounds and feet. The beauty of the metric system is basically that the factors of conversion are always powers of ten, and therefore, any conversion entails simply moving the decimal place to the right or the left as many times as necessary. As an example, consider a length of 3.453 km. and you want to convert it into meters. k means “one thousand”, so a km. is a thousand meters. (A thousand is 10 to the third power so it implies moving the decimal place three places to the right.) So 3.453 km. becomes 3453 meters. Nothing could be simpler! You want the result in centimeters? A meter has 100 (ten to the second power) centimeters, so shift the decimal place two additional places to the right, obtaining 345300 cm. You can do it mentally! If you want to see the difference in effort, try to convert 3.453 miles into sixteenths of an inch! (3.453 X 5280 X 12 X 16) Now, which one is easier?
Finally, deci = 1/10, centi = 1/100, mili = 1/1000, micro = 1/1,000,000, and so on. Also, deka = 10, kilo = 1000, mega = 1,000,000, etc.

I never said that I didn’t like. I said I don’t understand it or even picture it in my head. However, my son and I discovered that a gigabyte is not always… whatever number it’s suppose to be. It varies from 1.something to just 1 to something else, esp on computers. So, it’s not always the same or any accurate than anything humans created by way of measuring and it is different at times.

I didn’t say you said you didn’t like the metric system. I said that most people opposed to the metric system complain about having to convert measurements back into the old system without realizing they are not supposed to once they grow accostumed to it and develop a feeling for what say a kg (kilogram) of meat weighs and for what 1 meter of length is. I am sure such a getting used to should not take more than a few days and, therefore, should not be that painful.
A gigabyte is a gigabyte is a gigabyte! Giga means exactly a thousand millions, period. This NEVER varies. That being said, however, an explanation is in order to understand how nomenclature works in the computer world. Internally, computers work with a system of numbers called binary because this system has only two numbers, zero and one. In this system a chunk of memory of size 2 raised to the tenth power bytes, or 1024 bytes is refered to as APPROXIMATELY one kilobyte, that is, a thousand bytes. Similarly, 1024 megabytes may be refered to as a gigabyte only as an approximation. Hope this helps to clarify the confusion.

That being said, however, an explanation is in order to understand how nomenclature works in the computer world. Internally, computers work with a system of numbers called binary because this system has only two numbers, zero and one. In this system a chunk of memory of size 2 raised to the tenth power bytes, or 1024 bytes is refered to as APPROXIMATELY one kilobyte, that is, a thousand bytes. Similarly, 1024 megabytes may be refered to as a gigabyte only as an approximation. Hope this helps to clarify the confusion.

I can’t tell that to a computer bacause it would not understand! (If you were to measure the IQ of the most powerful computer in the world it woiuld be exactly 0!) It is humans who resort to approximations and it would be necessary to explain binary, hexadecimal, etc. number systems to any human who desires to understand computers. If you really want to understand this I suggest you look it up in any search engine. I would try “number systems”, “binary number systems”, and even “hexadecimal number systems”. If you are interested and need any further help, just let me know.

GdB:

I am quite lost! What is a “binary” gigabyte vs. a “metric” gigabyte? To me a giga = 10 ^ 9 (ten raised to the ninth power), and a byte is eight bits, where a bit is a Binary digIT number (either a 0 or a 1).

Getting back to the beauty of the metric system. The units in the metric system are so chosen as to make the basic concepts as simple as possible. Take Newton’s Law of Motion: F = ma, where F is force (in Newtons), m is mass (in kilograms, yes, a kilogram is a measure of mass not of weight. More on that latter.) and a is the acceleration (change of velocity with respect to time) measured in meters/second per second. So what is a Newton? ONE Newton is a force such that when applied to a mass of ONE kilogram results in an acceleration of such a mass by ONE meter/second per second. Could not be simpler.

Consider another example: ONE cubic centimeter of water has a mass of exactly ONE gram and requires exactly ONE calorie of energy (in the form of heat) to increase its temperature by ONE degree Celsius. If by now you are not impressed with the beauty and simplicity and practicality of the metric system then nothing will! By the way, a cubic centimeter or cc for short is one thousand of a liter. So a liter has a thousand cc and therefore require one thousand calories to increase its temperature by one degree Celsius and since its mass is a thousand grams, that is, a kilogram, it requires ONE Newton to impart to it an acceleration of ONE meter per second per second! NEAT AIN’T IT!
Consider the pound, feet and second system now. How would you apply F = ma in this system. Well, the unit of mass would be the slug which happens to weight about 32.17 lbs (of force) at sea level. So you would have to divide the weight of an object by 32.17 in order to obtain its mass expressed in slugs. Still think this system is simpler? I remember a few years ago reading about a problem with one of NASA’s projects and as it turned out the problem was due to someone using this retograde system of units instead of the simpler and more efficient metric system!

By the way, one of the reasons for China building its famous wall was to keep the outside world from contaminating it since it considered itself much more advanced. A few centuries later they discovered much to their surprise and chagrin that the outside world had passed them!

Good luck, Hector. I think with many people, trying to show the reasoning for metric is like trying to discuss atheism reasonabley with a religious fundamentalist.

Although I’m monolingual, I understand that when one learns a second language they go through the stage of translating in their mind everything back to their primary language, then gradually that fades and they can think in either without reference to the other language. This may be the case with the metric/English systems. As a child I learned the English system. As I got interested in chemistry, and learned about metric (age 12) I translated metrics into English. Over then next few years I got away from that and now think in terms of whichever system is presented.

I am quite lost! What is a “binary” gigabyte vs. a “metric” gigabyte? To me a giga = 10 ^ 9 (ten raised to the ninth power), and a byte is eight bits, where a bit is a Binary digIT number (either a 0 or a 1).

You are absolutely right in assuming that when learning another language there is a phase in which you try to translate anything back into your language. My native language is spanish. I remember when I was in grade school and my English teacher suddenly asked me why I didn’t have a pencil. I blurted out “I had one but I lent it to Mary.” It was only then that I realized that when I heard the question in english my brain had automatically shifted into english and I had actually thought the answer in english! That was quite a realization for me. Years later, when I was teaching engineering at my university there was a young professor who was blue eyed and blond ( which to my asbsent minded brain meant he was an american but he was as puertorican as I) so every day when me met I would say “Morning!” and he would answer “¡Buenos Días!” It never failed to make us both laugh!