Need to add 1.5kg and 350g?

Date:June 3, 2004 / year-entry #219
Orig Link:
Comments:    36
Summary:Need to add 1.5kg and 350g? Don't take any chances. Go to a Certified Metrication Specialist.

Need to add 1.5kg and 350g? Don't take any chances. Go to a Certified Metrication Specialist.

Comments (36)
  1. Dan says:

    Or, you could just type "1.5kg + 350g" into your Google toolbar and press <enter> :)


  2. Tom Seddon says:

    There are lots of people in the UK who don’t use the metric system because it’s too complicated. So this course may not be completely redundant.

  3. Matt C. Wilson says:

    What alternative in the UK is less complicated? Just curious :)

  4. Petr Kadlec says:

    "To verify that holders of CMS certificates are keeping abreast of new developments in SI, arrangements have been made, by USMA, for re-certification of each individual."

    Yeah, such a rapidly developing system… so many "new developments"… of course, you’ll have to pay us to get your re-certification! :-)

  5. ed says:

    yay CSU!

  6. I can’t understand what could be easier than the metric system but there are certain people over here who insist on weighing things in ounces, pounds, stones, inches, feet, yards, miles.

    To the best of my knowledge there are 12 inches to a foot, 3 feet to a yard, then to work out miles I cast to metres and rely on 1 mile being roughtly 1.5 Km.

    As for weights: 16 ounces in a pound, 14 pound in a stone.

    Absolutely bloody ridiculous, but the metric system is seen as european so there are strange people who refuse to acknowledge a better system. Curiously these people tend to have 6 fingers, and are generally share a grandparent with their spouse.

  7. Wayne says:

    I don’t see the metric system as European… but then, I’m Canadian.

    In Canada, we measure long distances in kilometers and short distances in feet/inches. So I have no idea what my height is in centimeters — I’m 5’10". We purchase vegitables by the pound but bulk food and cold cuts in grams. Gas is in liters but gas "milage" is always in miles per gallon. Temperature is always in Celcius; Fahrenheit makes no sense to me!

  8. Daniel says:

    Personally, I love the metric system. It’s so clear, so straightforward, so all-embracing: If your car’s engine happens to have 60 kilowatts, you immediately know this is 1000 times the power of a 60 watts light bulb. And if the nutrition facts printed on a chocolate bar say it contains 600 kilojoules (or watt seconds) you immediately know that’s the same amount of energy the light bulb consumes in 10000 seconds (about 3 hours. Time units sadly do not fit into the metric system).

    And how to figure out how much a square foot is compared to a square foot? With the metric system, you immediately know that 1 square kilometer is 1000 * 1000 = 1 million square meters, as a kilometer is 1000 meters as well as a kilogram is 1000 grams. Love it. Really.

  9. Daniel says:

    Sorry, I meant "… how much is a square foot compared to a square inch?"

  10. Raymond Chen says:

    The answer is that "Who would ever need to add square feet to square inches?" Square inches are for measuring small things; square feet are for measuring medium-sized things; square miles are for measuring big things. How often do you need to calculate how many postage stamps will cover Manitoba? Or how many chocolate bars it takes to lift a spaceship into orbit? Or how many tablets of aspirin you weight?

    (Personally I like the metric system. I’m just dubious of the "It’s easy to add things that have nothing to do with each other" argument.)

  11. James Curran says:

    The metric system is good — for math test, where the teacher could ask "What is 1.5 kg + 350g" and the student could correctly answer "1,850,000mg" — but in the real world it fails.

    The greatest advantage of the metric system is that it’s 10-based, which allows the cool decimal shifting shown above.

    The greatest disadvantage of the metric system is that it’s 10-based, which is the DUMBEST base is establish a number system on. It good if you count on your fingers, but that’s about it.

    For example:

    A quart is about the same as a liter.

    1/2 a quart is a "pint"

    1/2 a liter is 5 deciliters, except no one uses deciliters, so it’s 500 mililiters.

    1/2 a pint is 8 ounces.

    1/2 of a "1/2 a liter" is 250 ml

    1/2 of that is 4 oz.

    1/2 of that is 125ml

    1/2 of that is 2 oz.

    1/2 of that is 67.5ml, unless you’d rather say 67,500 microliters.

    1/2 of that is 1 oz.

    1/2 of that is 33,750ul

    How ’bout we could the other near alignment of Metric & English measurement: the yard & meter.

    A yard will yeild a whole number of inches when divided by 2, 3,4,6, 9, 12 or 18. Similarly dividing a meter gives you: 50cm, 33.33333etc cm, 25cm, 16.66666etc cm, 11.1111etc cm, 8.25cm, 5.55555etc cm.

    Now, you could divide a meter into an whole number of cm when you cut in into 5 or 10 pieces, but how many times have you done that, compared to the number you’ve cut something in 3 or 4 pieces?

    In the Celcius vs. Fahrenheit debate, I’m down with using Celcius (which is based on laboratory measurements) in laboratories, and using Fahrenheit (which is based on weather measurement) in tell the tempature. Also, degrees in the Fahrenheit scale are smaller, so you can get greater precision using just whole numbers.

  12. Nick Parker says:

    <small><b>Raymond Chen wrote:</b></small><i>

    How often do you need to calculate how many postage stamps will cover Manitoba? Or how many chocolate bars it takes to lift a spaceship into orbit?</i>

    True, unless you work for The Guinness Book of World Records. :-)

  13. MilesArcher says:

    Perhaps Nasa and JPL could use their services.

    Raymond, the problem comes in when you have PSI (lbs/in^2) pressing on the side of a building that’s measured in ft^2.

  14. Raymond Chen says:

    Okay that makes much more sense than trying to calculate how many chocolate bars it takes to power a light bulb.

  15. Daniel says:

    Argh, Raymond, the chocolate bar vs. light bulb comparison was just an example for what is possible with little effort. I still prefer eating the chocolate bar than taking power from the light bulb socket.

    Anyway, James Curran kinda beat me with the "yard will yield a whole number of inches when divided by 2,3,4,6, 9, 12 or 18" thing.

  16. Anonymous Coward says:

    The one thing I love about the metric system is being able to do easy conversions between volume, sizes and weight. For example it is trivial to work out how much several litres of cola weigh (ok, so I assume the density is the same as water). I was also able to tell a friend how big a rainwater holding tank would have to be, after converting his gallons into litres.

    (For those of you not familiar with the metric system, one litre of water weights one kilogram and fits in a cube with 10cm in each dimension)

    What really bugs me is when following recipes using imperial measurements how there is no consistency to using volume or weight. You get some measurements as cups and others as ounces, and often it is switched around between different recipes and sometimes in the same one for the same ingredient.

  17. Raymond Chen says:

    Indeed when I want to convert between volume and mass, I internally convert to metric in order to take advantage of "1 liter weighs 1 kg" shortcut.

    When cooking, volume is much more convenient than weight. The Germans have solved this problem in a characteristically German way: A measuring cup that is calibrated for densities of common materials.

    Weight is typically used only if you buy it in its entirety by weight from the store. (E.g., "1 lb ground beef". Not "2oz flour" but possibly "5lb flour" since one bag is 5lb.)

  18. The Other John says:

    I’m still waiting for metric time.

    Man, would that make life easier.

  19. Dave says:

    re: volume-and-mass:

    fans of alton brown’s "good eats" tv show will have heard the phrase "a pint’s a pound the world around". 16 fluid ounces of water weighs 16 (weight) ounces.

  20. Hanya says:

    Ah the Metric system. How do I loathe thee, let me count the ways.

    I have never seen a ‘gram spoon’- but I have seen a teaspoon, tablespoon and a cup. It is really easy to eyeball things in Imperial because there are so many reference points around you.

    Generally the wheel would be reinvented if it was broken- how was the Imperial system broken except that it took a little extra effort to memorize the conversions? Every adult I know (even some Canucks), know the Imperial system. Why change in midstream? It’s worked well for quite a while. I understand the EU gets verklempt if you use the Imperial system now, confirmation on that would be nice.

  21. anon says:

    Re. postage stamps covering Manitoba… Your example was perhaps intended to be fascious, but it’s quite similar to some famous Microsoft interview questions (like estimating the number of gas stations in LA).

  22. mb says:

    re: postage stamps & Manitoba: for a while way back during the 1800’s manitoba WAS ‘the postage stamp province’. curious: did you actually know this? or just a strange coincidence?

  23. Nick says:

    "a pint’s a pound the world around"

    Well, in the USA maybe.

    Most other places, a pint is 20 fluid ounces: "a pint of pure water weighs a pound and a quarter"

  24. Markus K says:

    Hanya – you don’t know a large share of the world’s adult population…

    JC: I’d rather memorise "half a litre" as my default increment of beer than "pint" because then I don’t need to memorise another word to describe the default increment of beer when I’m in Bavaria (to dig out a stereotype). "Half litre", "quarter litre" "300 ml" etc are all perfectly valid measurements and can all be used with nothing more than knowledge of (a) the name of the unit litre, (b) how the decimal system works (including its prefixes). Nothing else to memorise, understand the principle once and you’re flying, no need to memorise a new name and a new multiple to the next bigger unit and a new multiple to the next lower unit for everything (I still haven’t acquired permanent knowledge of how many kg a stone is and how many grams an ounce is).

  25. Petr Kadlec says:

    It’s hard to believe for me that anyone could consider the metric system as worse.

    How was the Imperial system broken? Maybe just that it is not any system.

    "there are so many reference points around you" — yes, fine, and even better: why not add some more reference points to the "system"? 1 ph (phone)=10 cd (CDs)=1/7 foo…

    Of course you can memorize all that numbers, but that does not make it a system. You could also memorize the weight of every object in the world, and then you’d need no units at all. With metric, you need one number: 10.

    About those divisors: it is a joke, isn’t it?

    But OK, actions like cooking using imperial units is obviously fine, but how could any scientist use imperial units??? (

    Well, I am glad I live in a country where I do not have to solve similar problems. :-)

  26. downunder says:

    Of coure if the imperial system worked so well, why did the US change it so that some weights and volumes are different to the way they are/were expressed elsewhere?

  27. Mat Hall says:

    I think the Americans made a pint smaller than everyone else because they can’t hold their beer…

  28. DrPizza says:

    "fans of alton brown’s "good eats" tv show will have heard the phrase "a pint’s a pound the world around". 16 fluid ounces of water weighs 16 (weight) ounces. "

    Except of course when it doesn’t.

    I find it /hilarious/ that the only significant country to use the "Imperial" system doesn’t even bother using the same bloody system as the Empire did.

    They’re not "Imperial" units and they’re not "English" units. They are uniquely American abominations.

    Abominable because they’re idiotic, not because they’re American, lest anyone misunderstand me.

    Imperial gallons (and hence quarts, pints, and gills) are larger than US gallons. But Imperial pints are 20 fl. oz., not 16–making them smaller than their US counterparts. Imperial fl. oz. weigh approximately an ounce; US ones do not.

    Further, Imperial units do not distinguish between fluid and dry measurements; the US system uses bushels for dry volumes.

    Weights differ. The Imperial hundredweight is 12 pounds greater (112 vs. 100); the Imperial ton is heavier too (2240 vs. 2000 lb).

    And measures such as cups and spoons have no Imperial counterparts.

  29. Serious says:

    Can somebody explain to me whether the imperial "pound" is a unit of mass or a unit of force?

  30. mpz says:

    You think pound is ambiguous – the Japanese use the word "kiro" for kilogram, kilometer, kilometer per hour and sometimes even for kilobyte. Decoding must be done on a case by case basis.

  31. njkayaker says:

    I think I’d be embarassed to hang that "certification" on my "ego wall".

  32. Luna says:

    Um, why are people here so obsessed with the metric system? "Personally I love the metric system."! Ha ha, you people are really sad! Boffins! Shitty fucking wankers!

  33. anon says:

    Dr Pizza needs to go back and learn some math. In fact, a UK pint IS larger than a US pint.

    This whole problem started after that spat with the French involving Napolean, when the Brits re-nominated THEIR pint from 16 oz to 20 oz, probably to do something with beer/liquor taxation. It was the US that, being recently liberated from the motherland, chose to keep the old, reliable units, rather than to change the definitions of pint, quart, gallon, etc.

    Having spent time in the UK, I know that I’m a ‘half pint’ when it comes to consumption of beer at a mid-day meal. The UK beer (really: ale. SEE the CAMRA website) is better tasting and stronger than the rice-brew from St Louis, Missouri.

  34. matus says:

    to James Curran: I often see this argument against the metric system. Believe me, what you describe as a significant problem (dividing something to 3, 6, 12, … parts) is not a problem in real life at all. And I should know it — I live in a purely metric country. I never thought dividing some length into three parts is a problem until someone from a non-metric country started to persuade me it is ;)

    One more thing: We metric people tend not to use fractions as much as you non-metric people seem to do. I imagine you have to use fractions a lot. Well, we use decimal numbers a lot, since they exploit the wonderful decimality of metric system. I can’t remember when I last needed to divide something by 12 or 6 or when I last added some fractions.

    The only "difficult" division that is frequent is by 3, which usually gives you something like 0.33333, 0.22222 or 0.66666. Similarly then you can probably add numbers like 1/12 + 1/9 + 1/3 in your head, I can work with numbers like 0.33333 + 0.11111 + 0.66666 in my head, so it’s not a problem at all. If you used metric system for a month, you would use decimal numbers as fast as you now use fractions — you would learn the result of most common operations by heart.

  35. Raymond Chen says:

    I remember people complaining (when the US stock markets converted to decimal) "But fractions are so much more convenient. A sixteenth is now the cumbersome 0.0625." Somehow people managed.

    It all boils down to what you grew up with and what you are accustomed to. Everything else is "weird and nonintuitive".

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