Changa

March
8th

Metric tools


Metric tools

I was thinking today about the word meter. A meter is both a unit of length, and a verb; "to meter heart rate," etc. This leads me to conclude that the phrase "meter stick" is a splendid merger of meanings, since it means both a stick that is one meter long, and also, a stick used for measuring.

A yard, on the other hand, is a place where I let my dog roam, and also an archaic unit of measurement scorned by scientists and even lay-people, save in the USA. Therefore I mock the "yard stick" for it appears more likely to be an item for my dog to play with than a serious tool for metering distances.

This lead me further into deliberations on empirical measurements. Americans who grew up using inches feel that the inch is an intuitive length for measurement, but let them tell you how many inches in a yard, or how many yards in a mile!
No, once learned, the metric system is easier, quicker, and far more intuitive.

For distances I prefer a form of meter, and for weight a form of gram. For volume; a form of litre, and for area a square meter will do nicely.

Just as I am disgusted by the anachronistic "fluid ounce" I am equally iritated by the moronic use of "cubic centimeter." How sad it is that a person who underwent many years of medical school has no skills in understanding the simple metrics used to measure the chemicals of his profession.

If he were injecting a block of wood into my vein, then a CC would do nicely.
Since the substance in question is in fact a liquid, it is correctly measured in millilitres, and no amount of stupidity will change that.

Let's look at the system from the beginning.

A french guy invented the meter, estimating that to be 1 millionth of the earth's diameter. He was off, but not by much, and we're sticking with it as it stands. It is a measure of distance, a bit longer than a yard.

The other scales were created relative to this. This is a water-based system, for we are a water-based life-form.

A gram is the weight of the amount of pure water it takes to fill a cubic centimeter. Note the wording, for water is not correctly measured in CC's.
A Cubic centimeter implies a solid that is 1x1x1cm. Water is a liquid, so instead we should use volume measurements on it.

A volume of water that would fill a Cubic centimeter is referred to as a millilitre. this is a thousandth of a litre.

A grade is the range of temperature that it takes to change water from solid to gas. A centigrade is a hundreth of a grade. So, at 0 degrees centigrade water is frozen, at 100 centigrade, water is a gas.

This is now degrees Celsius. In spite of the disgust of those stuck using the system, the name centigrade has been abandoned in favor of the man's name.
This is because a "grade" is also a matter of angle, rather than temperature.
Although those using the metric system might prefer to measure angles in "degrees."

Now a calorie is not often recognized as part of the metric system, but it actually is. For a calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise 1ml of pure water 1oc. Technically it is defined the amount of energy needed to raise 1ml of water from 14.5oc to 15.5oc, since in other places water temp. changes can take more or less energy. But the approximation of any one degree will do nicely in ordinary life.

Matters of Scale

You've doubtless heard terms such as centimeter, millimeter, etc. These might confuse you; you're thinking "how many different ways can we measure a distance?" In fact, there is only one method being used here. It's simply in powers of ten, which fit nicely in the decimal system of numbers that we use.

milli means 1/1,000 1 mm = 1/1000 m.
centi means 1/100 1 cm = 1/100 m.
deci means 1/10 1 dm = 1/10 m.
meter is the standard unit one meter = 1m.
Deca means 10 1Dm = 10m.
Kilo means 1,000 1Km = 1,000m.
Mega means 1,000,000 1Mm = 1,000,000m.
Giga means 1,000,000 1Gm = 1,000,000,000m.
Tera means 1,000,000,000 1Tm = 1,000,000,000,000m.

-changa

PS. as a footnote to the astronomers I know who are smug because they switched to metric years ago; you're not really using metric until you switch from light-years to Gm! That is all.