# Imperial Or Metric?

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This thread has got me thinking and I've remembered the advantage of Imperial (Feet and Inches; and shillings and old pence).

12 can be divided by 2, 3 and 4 to give a whole number, much better than decimal units.

Thus half a foot is six inches.

A third of a foot is four inches.

A quarter of a foot is three inches.

I think that is why the day is divided into twelve hours as well.

fathoms are Imperial, 6 feet and used for measuring depths

Of course the fathom is the oldest imperial linear measure still in common use. We've the Saxons to thank for that one as they, like sailors today, used it to measure anything where you would measure out a length of rope by counting the number of outstreched arm lengths you had. So in that sense "to fathom" and to "to draft" both mean to measure out /up something. For instance I'm off to fathom if there is and Guiness left in the fridge and then I'll take a draft. See simple really Mrs B.

Being educated in both systems I feel privalidged to be able to visualise both. I default to miles for long distances, once under a mile to meters, but strangely back to imperial for very short measurements - easier because they anthropometrically relate to the human body, of which I have an average one so it works for me.

Oh yeah - 39 for another precious 4 months

Edited by The Village People (Sussex)

I always cache in metric.

I always cache in metric.

Me too, I find I get funny looks when I try to pass off the shillings and threepenny bits.

Thinking of this brought back to mind a little rhyme from primary school days:

She milked it with a spanner

The milk came out in thru'penny tins

And also for a tanner

May be some of the imperialists out there could translate it into metric speak while retaining the the rhyme and meter of the original. That might be a good yardstick with which to fathom our facility with the imperial metric duality.

Edited by Jango & Boba Fett

Imperial for me as I cannot split units on my GPSr but if I could I would refer miles and metres. I'm 27.

I'm a limey but have lived in Canada most of my life. Canada is completely metric and many of the younger than 40 crowd don't even know common Imperial measurements like degrees F and miles. However, since I've been working for Brit-extracted or American firms for many of the last 13 years, I've become used to Imperial measurements (or the bogus Amerikun equivalents). This makes me a bit of an odd-ball in the local Geocaching circles with my old-fashioned ways.

I am 20 and use Imperial measurements with my GPS (partly because I can't actually visualise how long a kilometre is). I think if Ichanged to metric I'd be really stuck

I worked for a while transatlantic for an enigineering company in Boston and hence am fairly at home it either metric or "English" units as our US cousins refer to Imperial - strange really as English units are now officially metric.

Another strange thing is that US pints (and hence US gallons) are a different size to UK ones....

Anyway I cache in Imperial units, but freely convert mentaly between feet and meters when communicating with the younger Southseakers who are all educated in metric (at school at least ).

Edited by The Southseakers

:ph34r:

WOOPS

Edited by Jango & Boba Fett

This thread has got me thinking and I've remembered the advantage of Imperial (Feet and Inches; and shillings and old pence).

12 can be divided by 2, 3 and 4 to give a whole number, much better than decimal units.

Thus half a foot is six inches.

A third of a foot is four inches.

A quarter of a foot is three inches.

I think that is why the day is divided into twelve hours as well.

Ah so at last we are to return to our babylonian roots! Your answer is of course only half (or should that be 1/5th) correct.

The originators of this use of twelves were the Babylonians who used a sexagesimal (base 60) rather than a duodecimal (base 12) system. And of course the factors of 60 are: 60, 30, 20, 15, 12, 10, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1. The reason that we still use this hexadecimal system for measuring time and angle are probably down to two things, precedence and utility.

1. The babylonians did it first in there use of arithmetic, geometry and algebra. Although it must be said that absolute precision was not their strong suite hence a value for ? of 3 1/8, the implicit assumption of a 360 day year and the absence of a symbol for zero until around 200 BC. Where they started the Greeks continued, the Arabs expanded and eventually the Europeans followed in the wake.

2. The Babylonians had a pantheon of 60 major gods and each one held a rank in the hierarchy from 1st to 60th. As astronomers/astrologers (they had mixed motives) they split the night sky into 12 equal sectors (probably this was a compromise in order to "fit' one zodiac sign into each sector, could possible be related to an earlier base 6 numbering system or may be related to the Babylonian concept of circular time, there being c12 lunar months in each 360 day year). However there biggest innovation was in the use of numerals as place holders (remember back in the mists when you first discovered about units, tens, hundreds, ...) so while the number 111 would be written by the Romans as CXI or the Greeks as PIA the Babylonians would have written it as 1€ (where 1=64 and €=47 in our decimal notation).

So in summary the Babylonians did it first and (to an extent) in a more accurate way that their competitor systems. They came up with a way of splitting up time and angles in a systematic and user friendly way (which we still use hence 12:12:30 is twelve minutes and 30 seconds past 12 or 52º37'45" is an angle of 52 degrees, 37 minutes and 45 seconds or arc. But most importantly they used a common set of symbols whose value depended on place (they actually used a simple tally system with two basic symbols a bit like our |||| = 4).

Of course what the RTBs have left out is that

1 league = 3 miles

1 mile = 8 furlongs

1 furlong = 10 chains

1 chain = 4 rods

1 rod = 5 1/2 yards

1 yard = 3 feet

1 foot = 3 spans

1 span = 4 inches

1 inch = 3 barleycorns

I'd forgotten just how simple it all was, as they say "Give a man 3 barleycorns and he will take 5 furlongs+19 chains+37 rods+29 yards+27 feet+3 spans+4 inches+3 barleycorns" OR is it?

I bow to your superior knowledge - which reminds me of a teacher I had who claimed to be the reincarnation of a king of Babylon (another story for another thread)

Well, completely mixed units here!!!

We cache in metric, mainly cos the OS grid is metric. Having said that, a Km is difficult to visualise, so I just imagine it as less than a mile!!

My job as an analytical scientist requires everything to be metric, so weigh is grams (or milligrams) and volume is litres or mL. Dad's an architect, so all lengths are in mm in DIY.

Having said that, I drink pints, weigh about 10 St and I'm 5'7" tall!!! Oh, and 30 years old...

Talking of old measurements, did you know that our railway gauge is based on a horses rear end?

Ah! One of my favourite stories. The basis not only of the British railway guage but the booster rockets on the Space Shuttle.

Here goes:

The building of the parts of the Shuttle was given to different US States (partly I believe to stop people complaining of the cost). The booster rockets went to Philidelphia and they were transported by rail through a tunnel. Thus their size was dictated by the width of a single track tunnel.

This size was dictated by the US rail guage which, as the railways were built by the British, was the British rail guage.

The British rail guage is based on the size of a stage coach, specifically the distance between the wheels - at the start of railways the only people building carrages were stage coach makers and they just built them the same size.

Stage coaches were that size because unmetalled roads had over centuries become rutted and that was the distance between the ruts.

The ruts originated to an extent from Roman times and were originally caused by Roman charriots.

The Roman charriot was the width it was because of the size of two Roman charriot Horses rear ends.

So the railway guage and the space shuttle designed arround a horses rear end.

I like this story so if you are going to shoot it down - please be gentle

Ah! One of my favourite stories. The basis not only of the British railway guage but the booster rockets on the Space Shuttle.

Here goes:

The building of the parts of the Shuttle was given to different US States (partly I believe to stop people complaining of the cost). The booster rockets went to Philidelphia and they were transported by rail through a tunnel. Thus their size was dictated by the width of a single track tunnel.

This size was dictated by the US rail guage which, as the railways were built by the British, was the British rail guage.

The British rail guage is based on the size of a stage coach, specifically the distance between the wheels - at the start of railways the only people building carrages were stage coach makers and they just built them the same size.

Stage coaches were that size because unmetalled roads had over centuries become rutted and that was the distance between the ruts.

The ruts originated to an extent from Roman times and were originally caused by Roman charriots.

The Roman charriot was the width it was because of the size of two Roman charriot Horses rear ends.

So the railway guage and the space shuttle designed arround a horses rear end.

I like this story so if you are going to shoot it down - please be gentle

wonderful! exactly what i understand to be the case as well, although I didn;t know the space shuttle extension....

Hi,

I have always used metric being from New Zealand, it does cause confusion when you cache with people that use imperial.

Comments like "Only 322 to go!!!", they mean feet and I think metres

I guess it all depends on what you are used to and can visualise.

See ya...Gary

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