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Our Friend, The Meter 1672

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-people-like-nasa dept.
dbirchall writes "Upon hearing that SpaceShipOne reached 100km today, I did some hasty math based on the altitude in feet sttated by Scaled Composites in their press release, and was surprised to come up with a number under 100,000 meters. Fortunately, a friend pointed out that my inches-to-meters conversion was flawed. Some quick Googling determined that lots of people still have no idea how many inches are in a meter, even after some folks have had big problems because of conversion errors."
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Our Friend, The Meter

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  • It matters because (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:07AM (#9503744)
    Dude, read the blurb again. It matters because the poster was Dan Birchall. Don't you know who that is? He's the head of NASA's mars probe program...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:08AM (#9503747)
    It's so frustrating... there's gotta be someone in a public position with the balls to unify the measuring systems.

    Either the world changes or the US changes. Personally I say go towards the metric system. Let's also use grams, liters, and all the other worldwide used measuring systems.

    It might be tough in the beginning for those who are adjusted to the inch-system, but change has always proven to be hard in any society. Argg.. an anonymous post on slashdot won't make a difference anyways... or will it?
  • Re:Spaceballs (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:08AM (#9503748)
    dude, your site SUUUUUUUUCKS! seriously, that make out thing is retarded.
  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:09AM (#9503758) Homepage
    I only recently discovered the Google calculator, so in case it's new to you to:

    100Km in feet [google.com]
    20 inches in cm [google.com]
    Instructions for the Google calculator [google.com]
  • by FiggyBottom (681015) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:10AM (#9503763) Homepage
    1 meter in inches [google.com]
  • 2.54 cm per inch (Score:5, Informative)

    by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:10AM (#9503768)
    1 m * (100 cm/m) * (1 in/2.54 cm) = 39.37007874 in

    Look at me, I'm Informative!

  • Quick Estimating (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rick and Roll (672077) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:12AM (#9503784)
    I could have told that it was correct pretty quickly. A hundred kilometers is roughly sixty miles. I've known that since elementary school.

    I also could have carried out the whole conversion, because I know that 1 in = 2.54 cm.

    There are a lot of math illiterates. The poster is obviously one of them. I don't think the poster should take any comfort in the fact that other people got the wrong answer as well. I think that (s)he should realize that it's time to become educated.

    This is just basic common knowledge that everyone should have.

  • Re:On in the US (Score:3, Informative)

    by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:14AM (#9503802) Homepage
    You going to pay for us to change all of the road signs all over the country that deal with "XXX tons maximum", "Height: 16'", "45 miles to _______", or "Speed limit: 70"?

    Good point, but actually tons are a metric unit. One ton is 1000Kg :)
  • by MushMouth (5650) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:14AM (#9503806) Homepage
    2.54 cm/inch
    1609 m/mile
    39.37 in/m

    These are off the top of my head. This guy doesn't know what the conversion rates are, I didn't know how many cubic inches are in a liter which I needed today, so I fucking looked them up. Search on your favorite search engine for conversion factors this isn't news.
  • Re:On in the US (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArsSineArtificio (150115) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:15AM (#9503810) Homepage
    We buy beer and milk in pints and mostly weigh in stones and pounds and not kilos.

    The "stone" is totally unknown in the US, by the way. I believe that's the only common Imperial (or, as we say, standard) measurement we don't have.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:16AM (#9503821)
    Dude, read the blurb again. It matters because the poster was Dan Birchall. Don't you know who that is? He's the head of NASA's mars probe program...

    And it matters because in the linked blog he gives a long list of incorrect conversion factors from supposedly authoritative sources. I doubt he actually submitted the article; the Slashdot summary just makes him out to be an idiot who can't do simple arithmetic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:27AM (#9503887)
    no, everything is American.

    There's no such thing is "English" units. The units you use are not the Imperial system used in England, they have most of the same names, but some of the values are different. Mostly volume units I believe, like Gallons.
  • Re:On in the US (Score:2, Informative)

    by zoydoid (228959) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:28AM (#9503894)
    you be thinking of a 'tonne' no doubt
  • Quick note.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by euxneks (516538) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:30AM (#9503905)
    When, or if, you americans actually do adopt the metric system, it's spelled Metre.. =) Hope that helps... Meter is more commonly known as the measuring device.. heck, from Dictionary.com:

    meter
    n.
    1. The measured arrangement of words in poetry, as by accentual rhythm, syllabic quantity, or the number of syllables in a line.
    2. A particular arrangement of words in poetry, such as iambic pentameter, determined by the kind and number of metrical units in a line.
    3. The rhythmic pattern of a stanza, determined by the kind and number of lines.
    As it pertains to Music:
    1. Division into measures or bars.
    2. A specific rhythm determined by the number of beats and the time value assigned to each note in a measure.

    Of course, this is just me being a nit-picky bastard.
  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by pyrrhonist (701154) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:30AM (#9503908)
    What is the rational given in the USA for not using metric?

    This is a popular misconception. The fact is, the U.S. does use the metric system. See here for a list of laws [colostate.edu].

  • Re:American bashing? (Score:5, Informative)

    by drag88 (185469) <benoit,page&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:32AM (#9503918)
    Base 10 system?
    Using prefixes to express multiples of base units?
    No memorizing antiquated and imprecise ratios?

    You have a base unit for every type of measurement; length(m), mass(g), weight(N), pressure(Pa), energy (J), etc. Just add prefixes and numerical values and you're all set! So easy..
  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:36AM (#9503944)
    Nobody uses 220 Volts as wall current. Volts are a unit of potential, not current.

  • by vip223 (529662) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `edobhsoj'> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:36AM (#9503946)
    Need to know the conversion factor? Use the (lesser known?) unix utility, units
    [lupin:~] josh$ units

    500 units, 54 prefixes
    You have: metres
    You want: inches
    * 39.370079
    / 0.0254
    You have: rods/hogshead
    You want: kilometres/litre
    * 1.5816358e-05
    / 63225.68
    Oh, and by the way, in Australia, we spell it Metre, not meter (that's what the gas man checks)
    Josh
  • by sholden (12227) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:36AM (#9503949) Homepage
    Isn't the point that searching in your favourite search engine may very well turn up a page with the incorrect conversion factor?
  • Long or Short? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Hungus (585181) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:37AM (#9503953) Journal
    Remember only a short ton is 2000lbs
    1 metric ton (1000 kg)
    = 0.9842 tons (long)
    1.102311 tons (short)
    2204.622 pounds

    1 long ton (l t)
    = 1.01605 tonne
    2240 pounds (lb)

    1 short ton (s t)
    = 0.90718474 tonne
    2000 pounds (lb)
  • by mopomi (696055) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:39AM (#9503970)
    Dude, this Dan Birchall is not a NASA administrator of any kind (look at his home page). He's a freelance writer/web page designer/executive director of SpamCon, if I have the right Dan Birchall.

    There is, in fact, no Birchall in administration at NASA, and as far as I can find, there is no Birchall associated with NASA.

    The program director of NASA's Mars program is Scott Hubbard. http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/00 -10-26.html [nasa.gov] (search for mars program director)

  • by dbirchall (191839) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:45AM (#9504003) Journal
    Actually, I did submit it... I should probably have just included all the HTML of the linked page instead. :)

  • Re:Quick note.. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:53AM (#9504047)
    When, or if, you americans actually do adopt the metric system, it's spelled Metre..
    Of course, this is just me being a nit-picky bastard.


    No, you're being a brutally retarded nit-picky bastard. From further down the same fucking page on Dictionary.com:

    Main Entry: meter
    Variant: or chiefly British metre /'mEt-&r/
    Function: noun
    : the base unit of length in the International System of Units that is equal to the distance traveled in a vacuum by light in 1/299,792,458 second or to about 39.37 inches


    Also, use your fucking brain about how the word is pronounced:

    meter : would be pronounced "me-tEr" (as English and Americans alike pronounce it)
    metre : would be pronounced "mEt-Ruh" (a la Francais)

    Amazingly, you're speaking and writing English. So use the logically correct spelling, or change the way you pronounce it to match how you spell it. You fucking idiot.

    /A Brit living in America who left England precisely because it has a high concentration of xenophobic bastards like yourself who reject anything that isn't "British" even if the stuff that is "British" is complete shit.

    //how's that for being a nit-pick?
  • We already have (Score:5, Informative)

    by mlg9000 (515199) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:54AM (#9504054)
    The metric system (SI now) is the only official unit of measurement the US government has ever adopted. It did so way back in 1893. (1866 it became a legal unit of measure). What they didn't do though, was require it's use. So since the older imperial system was still widely in use it lived on. (Some of it anyway.. nobody knows what a stone is for example) Congress went back and required the metric system's use for all goverment purposes in 1988 (unless the infomation is for public use where it can be either).

    So really we use a mix of both here. In school they teach almost entirely in metric... makes the math easier to deal with when to have to convert to smaller/larger units. Common stuff like speed limits, weight, tempature, and long distances are measured in mph/pounds/fahrenheit/miles. If you go to the store, or use any tools though it's 50/50.. so smaller units like liters/grams/centimeters I think most people know pretty well.
  • Re:On in the US (Score:5, Informative)

    by stevelinton (4044) <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:57AM (#9504068) Homepage
    Of course there is some contention over the pint (and consequently the gallon).
    An imperial pint is 20 fluid ounces (a little over half a litre). A US pint is 16 fluid ounces (under half a litre), leading to the factually incorrect US maxim "a pint's a pound the world around". I think there is a small difference in the fluid ounce as well.

    Steve

    PS 1 stone is 14 pounds.
  • by dbirchall (191839) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @02:03AM (#9504106) Journal
    Aaaaaand... here's the full content with all the links [slashdot.org], for those who prefer to only click on links that go to Slashdot.
  • by sfe_software (220870) * on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @02:07AM (#9504126) Homepage
    Isn't the point that searching in your favourite search engine may very well turn up a page with the incorrect conversion factor?

    Well, if your favorite search engine happens to be Google [google.com], the search engine itself will do the math for you [google.com].

    But that's just Google... ;)
  • by ncc74656 (45571) * <scott@alfter.us> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @02:09AM (#9504145) Homepage Journal
    If, in doubt, and you like cars with big engines, remember that a 350 is 5.8l

    Actually, it's closer to 5.7 L. 2.54^3*350/1000=5.7354724. 5.7 L is also the number GM has used for years in reference to its 350s.

  • by dbirchall (191839) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @02:13AM (#9504174) Journal
    I am not, at present, a freelance writer, nor am I, at present, executive director of anything, or anything beyond a member of SpamCon Foundation.

    This may, or may not, prove or disprove that I am the "right" Dan Birchall.

    Metadiscussion is great.

  • by dbirchall (191839) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @02:29AM (#9504260) Journal
    2.54 is not rounded, inches cm is where a "precise" conversion is available.

    And that looks like a relatively good division, yeah. I tried to get an answer out of Perl using:

    prinft("%.70f\n",100/2.54);
    which returned: 39.37007874015748143392556812614202499389648437500 0000000000000000000000

    But Jeff "Bud" Fields did it by hand (which may or may not give better results than asking Perl for lots of precision) and got (quoting him):

    39.37007874015748031456 and then a repeating pattern of 65354330708661417322834645
    I had hoped it'd resolve nicely as it did in Perl, since 2.54 ends with a "4," but unfortunately the factors of 254 are 2 and 127 and 127 had to go be prime on me. Bleah.
  • Re:American bashing? (Score:2, Informative)

    by fluce (740312) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @02:35AM (#9504293)
    Official SI mass unit is kilogram (kg), not gram (g).
  • Re:On in the US (Score:4, Informative)

    by flossie (135232) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @03:00AM (#9504412) Homepage
    Lol. British.. That's a good one! It is spelled meter over here, so guess which country (not US, btw).

    If over here is Britain, you are wrong. The unit of measurement is spelt "metre" after the French spelling, in just the same way that we (Brits that can spell) use "centre" instead of the American "center".
    A "meter" is a measuring device, such as a "water meter" or a "tachometer".

  • Re:On in the US (Score:2, Informative)

    by Linker3000 (626634) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @03:02AM (#9504423) Journal
    Yep, and required to make Sarin
  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @03:08AM (#9504446)
    In the UK they're still forcing shops to measure in metric, and all sorts of things like that. Road signs, on the other hand, they've made no real effort to change. I can only imagine it's partly expense, and partly safety... although I can only imagine people slowing down with metric signs really, as the numbers would seem bigger in the short term.

    That's why you have to bite the bullet and make the conversion complete. When you have nothing to remind you of the old units, you soon start thinking metric (as ungrammatic as "think differetn", but that's slogans for you).

    Road signs were one of the easiest conversions. Either just unscrew and replace, or respray and/or sticker in situ. At least initially, all the new signs have a prominent "km" or "kph" to make it clear. For car speedos you could go to a garage and have a gearwheel changed so it clocked up in km, should be a setup option for digital ones I expect.

  • Re:meter (Score:4, Informative)

    by pe1rxq (141710) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @03:51AM (#9504634) Homepage Journal
    In dutch 'meter' is used for both the measurement result and the measurement device.

    Jeroen
  • by RedWizzard (192002) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @04:04AM (#9504692)
    I tried to get an answer out of Perl using: prinft("%.70f\n",100/2.54);
    Use:
    use Math::BigFloat;
    $x = Math::BigFloat->new(100);
    $x->precision(-100);
    $y = $x->copy()->bdiv(2.54);
    print $y->bstr(),"\n";
    The output is: 39.370078740157480314960629921259842519685039... the whole part right of the decimal repeats ad infinitum.
    But Jeff "Bud" Fields did it by hand (which may or may not give better results than asking Perl for lots of precision) and got (quoting him):

    39.37007874015748031456 and then a repeating pattern of 65354330708661417322834645

    I think Jeff made a mistake.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @04:17AM (#9504759)
    I tried to get an answer out of Perl using:

    prinft("%.70f\n",100/2.54);

    which returned: 39.37007874015748143392556812614202499389648437500 0000000000000000000000


    Perl was designed to handle strings, not numbers - try using a language with decent numerical processing. 512 digits should be enough, right?
    Objective Caml version 3.07+16 (2004-04-13)

    # open Num;;
    # approx_num_fix 512 (num_of_int 10000 // num_of_int 254);;
    - : string =
    "+39.370078740157480314960629921259842519685039 37007874015748031496062992125984251968503937007874 01574803149606299212598425196850393700787401574803 14960629921259842519685039370078740157480314960629 92125984251968503937007874015748031496062992125984 25196850393700787401574803149606299212598425196850 39370078740157480314960629921259842519685039370078 74015748031496062992125984251968503937007874015748 03149606299212598425196850393700787401574803149606 29921259842519685039370078740157480314960629921259 84251968503937007874"
    Hmm, looks like it loops pretty quickly...
  • by Sique (173459) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @04:25AM (#9504793) Homepage
    The first country in which a controlled split of an atom took place was Italy, and it was performed by Enrico Fermi (yes, the same Mr. Fermi) in 1934. Ironically Enrico Fermi at first didn't think about a split, he rather assumed, that the neutrons he was sending to Uranium were added to the Uranium cores, and he were creating Transuranium atoms.

    Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassmann were continuing those experiments in the following years and were proving chemically, that indeed there were new cores produced by shooting neutrons on Uranium. But the physical results (density et.al.) didn't fit the expectations for Transuranium. In 1937 Lise Meitner, who was physicist, found the right explanation and concluded that the neutron had rather split the atom core instead of being added to it.

    Mr. Hahn in lieu for the whole group got the Chemistry Nobel prize in 1944 for this achievement. Lise Meitner should have been awarded the Physics Nobel prize though, which never happened.

    Enrico Fermi, after being exiled to the U.S. was starting a fission reactor project in 1942 in the basement of a stadium and invented the carbon-water moderated reactor.

    I remember to have read in an Otto Hahn biography, that the idea to explain the phenomenom as split of atoms has been suggested before 1937 in a conference, where Otto Hahn was presenting his results as proof for creating Transuranium, but the scientist, being a woman from Yugoslavia, didn't have enough credit with the audience.

    (There is another prominent case of mistrusting women in science in the first half of the 20th century: When Lise Meitner was the first woman who got awarded her Doctor's degree from the University of Vienna, it was anounced in the local newspapers as a thesis about "Problems in cosmetic physics". Indeed she wrote her thesis about "Problems in cosmic physics".)
  • Re:On in the US (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @04:32AM (#9504830)
    Colour and Color are in websters (who invented color), but Color is not present in any primary british english dictionary. Colour is valid in all places but color is only valid in US-based english. Indian english spells it 'colour' due to the commonwealth and they are over 1 billion in number so that is fairly international (obviously only a fraction speaks english, but if more were to learn it would probably be 'colour').
  • by SailorBob (146385) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @04:34AM (#9504836) Homepage Journal
    every time somebody makes an argument against the metric system, they are essentially also making that same argument agaisnt the arabic (our) number system. to use a number system with a base of 10 and not use units with a base of 10 is illogical, and impractical where units with a base of 10 are much easier to manipulate using a number system with a base of 10.

    The number system is not Arabic. It is Hindu and was transmitted to the west by the Arabs. Please see Hindu-Arabic Numerals [wlv.ac.uk]

  • by misterpies (632880) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @04:43AM (#9504885)

    "Imperial units were an outgrowth of kooky base-12 that was used by Germanic tribes -- it's why English uses eleven and twelve instead of oneteen and twoteen."

    Oh dear, when are we going to get a "-1 complete made-up bullshit" modifier? Here are some facts.

    1. In the first place, with 16 ounces to the pound, 14 pounds to the stone and 3 feet to the yard, it's perfectly clear that the imperial system is not a pure base-12 system anyway.

    2. The "imperial" system was not Germanic in origin. The metric system was invented in the 18th century. Before that, every country in Europe used a variant of the "imperial" system, which is descended from the Roman system of measurements. They're the folk that came up with 12 inches to the foot, 16 ounces to the pound etc.

    3. Given that these units are Roman in origin, note that in latin, 11 is "undecim" (i.e. one-ten) and twelve is "duodecim" (two-ten). So clearly, language has nothing to do with it. And incidently, "eleven" comes from the Old English expression for "one left over (from ten)", so even the Germanic tribes counted in decimal.

    4. Use of base-12 systems long predates even the Romans. The 12-hour clock and 360-degree system for angles were developed by the Babylonians several thousand years ago.

    5. Then again, if you need to convert 5/16 to decimal to figure out that it's more than a quarter and less than a half, you're probably beyond my ability to help.
  • Re:On in the US (Score:4, Informative)

    by Raumkraut (518382) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:01AM (#9504961)
    Hands are an imperial measurement also. They're most commonly used these days for measuring the height of horses.

    google.com:
    1 meter = 9.84251969 hands
  • Re:Poster (Score:4, Informative)

    by Adhemar (679794) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:22AM (#9505040)
    So I got out my ruler and measured the posters, and found them to be exactly 2 feet by 3 feet...

    Here in (metric) Europe, the commonly used paper/poster size that comes closest is 59.4 cm by 84.1 cm.

    Those numbers don't sound like round numbers in metric, do they?

    But it makes sense. The format is known as A1. Its surface area is about 5000 square cm, or half a square meter. A0 is twice as big: a square meter (84.1 cm by 118.9 cm). The ratio of all An formats is sqrt(2), so that the width of An equals the length of A(n+1).

    Hence: A4, the standard lettre size, measures 21.0 cm by 29.7 cm; its surface area is 1/16 square meter.

  • Re:Quick note.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bobman1235 (191138) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @06:14AM (#9505198) Homepage
    There is a fair bit of arrogance renaming someone else's measurements without using them yourself. What are you going to do next rename Bordeaux into Bordo so you can get your heads around other French concepts?

    Yes, it's all about arrogance. It has nothing to do with natural evolution of a language. Those wacky spaniards call the meter a "metro"! They completely CHANGED a letter! What arrogant bastards!!

    American English is NOT the same exact language as British English. Languages evolve differently depending on where they're used and who is using them. Someone from Guatemala speaks a whole different Spanish than someone from Madrid. Complete with random "arrogant" spelling changes.

    Wrap your head around that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @06:48AM (#9505324)
    No: 1 cubic decimeter (1 dm3) = 1000 cubic centimeters (1000 cm3) = 1 litre

    1 litre of pure water (density 1 kg/dm3) = 1 kilogram (1000 grams) of water

    1 m = 10 dm = 100 cm = 1000 mm

    1 m2 = 100 dm2 = 10000 cm2 = 1e6 mm2

    1 m3 = 1e3 dm3 = 1e6 cm3 = 1e9 mm3


    God save the metric system!!

  • by MxReb0 (443442) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @07:19AM (#9505542)
    This is the stupidest /. post I think I've ever seen.
    "News flash! Some idiot can't convert units and thinks a lot of other people have trouble, too!"
    I guess I'm the real idiot for actually posting how dumb it it.
    Go ahead mod me down. I have a life. Kinda.
  • by smartfart (215944) * <joeyNO@SPAMjoeykelly.net> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @07:55AM (#9505873) Homepage Journal
    I can't find a reference for this (google gives lots of links, but nothing authoritative), but there are exactly 2.54 centimeters in an inch. If you do the calculation (I ran it on my HP 48SX), you get 39.3700787402 inches per meter. I don't have anything that lets me do greater precision. Anyone care to calculate it?

    I remember seeing this in a conversion table given out by some TA while I was at LSU. It specifically stated that the figure was exact.

  • by uberleet (744606) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @07:59AM (#9505904)

    A gallon of water is actually ~ 8 pounds. Or 8.345404 [fourmilab.ch] to be exact.

  • Re:On in the US (Score:3, Informative)

    by Peldor (639336) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @08:07AM (#9505981)
    Ever noticed that road signs tend to be placed 1/3 or 2/3 of a mile before an exit?

    This isn't just because they like confusing people; 1/3 of a mile is about 1/2 of a kilometer, so this will allow them to switch over to metric without having to move any signs.

    No, but I've noticed them at a 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 mile. That's why they say pithy things like "Exit 1 mile ahead on right".

  • by uberleet (744606) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @08:15AM (#9506058)

    No, julesh is actually right.

    An Imperial gallon is 8 Imperial pints. An Imperial pint is 20 fluid ounces.

    This is different than in American Standard units where a gallon is 8 pints, each being 16 fluid ounces.

    Just to make things additionally confusing, the fluid ounce is also defined differently in Imperial (1 fluid ounce = 1 weight ounce) -vs- American Standard (1 fluid ounce = 1.04 weight ounce).

    So, an Imperial gallon really does weigh (160/16 * 1) 10 pounds while an American gallon weighs (128/16 * 1.04) ~8.33.

  • by nebaz (453974) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @08:54AM (#9506495)
    Actually it does matter. Density changes with temperature. Thus for a fixed volume, so does mass.
  • by Sique (173459) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:08AM (#9506658) Homepage
    It is technically no splitting of the atom, it's just a changing of the nucleus by adding a proton or a neutron. Even though this is a change of the chemical properties, both the atom cores have nearly the same weight (+1). Same is to be said for the Rutherford experiments, where atom nuclei were bombarded by alpha radiation (Helium nuclei). In this case you even change the mass number of the targeted core (the number of baryons) by four, and you even have at first an addition of mass and then a second reaction to get the new core into a stable state (mostly by sending out beta radiation, sometimes also neutron or proton radiation).

    Ernest Rutherford is thus recognized as the person to first demonstrate the change of atom cores. John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton were the first to use protons, which are quite easy to generate (they are basicly positively charged Hydrogenium or Hydrogenium nuclei).

    Enrico Fermi got interested in those experiments and was using neutrons because he hoped that neutrons would be easier to add to the core, because they don't get rejected by the positive charge of the atom core. On the other hand you can't get neutron radiation that easily, you need radioactive elements which send out neutrons during their reaction.

    The big breakthrough for Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassmann was to realize that neutrons don't just get added to the atom cores, but they cause the cores to swing and in this process to split into two about equal sized smaller cores. And Otto Hahn got the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for exactly this: To discover the splitting of the atom.
  • Re:Quick note.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by quisph (746257) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @09:32AM (#9506956)
    But if someone in Mexico says, "It's 22 degrees outside," I have no idea what that means to me. I have to sit down, do the math (and I still haven't found a quick way to do 9/5 or 5/9) before I'm even sure if I need a jacket or not.
    I've found the following rhyme helpful:

    30 degrees is hot
    20 degrees is nice
    10 degrees is cold
    0 degrees is ice

    In Fahrenheit, that's 86 (hot), 68 (nice), 50 (cold), and of course 32 (ice).

  • Re:On in the US (Score:3, Informative)

    by Politburo (640618) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @10:56AM (#9507949)
    What highways did you travel on here? On most interstates, there are at least 1 mile and 1/2 mile signs. For highway intersections there are frequently signs 2-5 miles away. It is true that on some denser city highways, and smaller state roads, you may only get 1/4 mile or less notice.
  • by jburroug (45317) <slashdot@[ ]rbic.org ['ace' in gap]> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @10:59AM (#9508010) Homepage Journal
    Not true. I still buy my beer by the pint and it's easy to find liquor sold by the pint or quart as well.

    Also ammunition comes in a mishmash of metric and English units. The caliber (as in 45 caliber) of a round is based on it's size in inches. For example the bore of a 45 caliber handgun is .45" inches wide.

    So what was your point again?
  • by thedillybar (677116) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:01AM (#9508036)
    Actually 1 inch exactly equals 2.54 cm.

    The US Metric Law of 1866 said that one meter was equal to 39.37 inches, exactly. In 1959, the relationship between inches and centimeters was redefined to be that one inch is equal to 2.54 centimeters, exactly. Maps produced by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey continued to use the old standard. To clarify which foot you are talking about, the old foot, derived from 1 meter = 39.37 inches (exactly), is referred to as the "US survey foot". The new foot, derived from 1 inch = 2.54 cm (exactly), is referred to as the "international foot".

  • by lightsaber1 (686686) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:03AM (#9508069)
    There is, however, trouble in that there are two completely different definitions of the inch. The standard international definition, previously known as the Canadian inch until the U.S. and Britain agreed to use it as their standard in 1958, (according to wikipedia.org) is based on 1 inch = 2.54cm

    The other, known as the U.S. survey inch gives 39.37 inches per metre, which gives 1 inch = 2.540000508cm

    Both are only really used in the U.S. now (except for, among a small handful of other places, certain industries in Canada who have to trade with the U.S., as well as the old farts who are too stubborn to give it up). However, if you can't even agree on a single definition of the thing, no wonder there are so many conversion errors.

  • Nooo... (Score:2, Informative)

    by MenTaLguY (5483) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:07AM (#9508138) Homepage

    Change Month/Day/Year to Day/Month/Year on all forms and databases.


    Noooo! Year-Month-Day, you insensitive clod!


    It's ISO standard and collates properly if zero-padded.

  • Oh yea? (Score:3, Informative)

    by lockefire (691775) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:11AM (#9508204)
    Mass doesn't ever change because of temperature or pressure or stuff like that. The only way to change mass is to convert energy to mass or mass to energy. (ie. fission or fusion)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @12:04PM (#9508929)
    Nope:

    Under the command of test pilot Mike Melvill, SpaceShipOne reached a record breaking altitude of 328,491 feet (approximately 62 miles or 100 km), making Melvill the first civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere and the first private pilot to earn astronaut wings.
    -Scaled Composites press release [scaled.com]

    Sure sounds like the foot measurement is the most accurate, given that it's both the most precise and not prefaced by "approximately". Also, 100 km is 328,084 [google.com] feet, so how they'd round up to 491 I'm not sure.
  • [sic] (offtopic) (Score:3, Informative)

    by _anomaly_ (127254) <anomaly.geekbits@com> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:40PM (#9510188) Homepage
    Latin: thus; so (not a mistake and is to be read as it stands)

    in other words, it's used in a quotation that contains something that may be considered a mistake (misspell or using a non-existant word) and is included so the reader know it was intended (or explicitly stating that it is taken as a direct quote).
  • by forii (49445) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @03:55PM (#9511760)
    Pass a "law" and redefine reality. We tried it with pi, too.
    Pi is a natural constant, defined as the ratio between a circle's circumference and its diameter.
    A "meter" is an artificial definition. And, in particular, the "definition" of a meter has changed many times over the year, starting with the first adoption in 1791, being re-defined many times over the years, and only ending (for the moment) with the current definition in terms of c, the speed of light, in 1983. This article gives a history [nist.gov]
    Nobody was trying to legislate reality, just clarify definitions.
  • by drwho (4190) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:44PM (#9512849) Homepage Journal
    NASA has nothing on airline oopses: Gilmi [aviation-safety.net] I wonder how many other disasters of this type don't end up with enough survivors to tell how it happened.
  • by mulp (638696) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:36AM (#9515460)
    The 39.37 conversion factor was based on comparing the measurements of two yard standards with meter standards. What they discovered was that the two meter standards disagreed. One worked out to slightly under 2.54 cm per inch and the other slightly more.

    They eliminated the two yard standards and redefined the "English" system based on the metric system.

    In other words, there is only one system of standards, the metric system.

    The conventional units might be in meters, kilograms, feet, pounds, yards, etc., but for the industrial world, all are based on the metric system BY DEFINITION.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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