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Facts | Why does not the U.S. have switched to the metric system?
Facts | Why does not the U.S. have switched to the metric system?
Perhaps each of you more than once wondered what size screen digital devices specified in unfamiliar units. It’s even become a tradition, and no one comes to mind to ask, why not use the usual centimeters instead of inches that seemingly long and firmly took its place in the history books?
The fact is that the United States and some other countries (in contrast to the rest of the world) and have not switched to the metric system, preferring their traditional international units meters and kilograms. And since many of the largest technology corporations located in the United States, the usual for this country inches spread in products across the globe. Everyone knows which country is the city of Cupertino, where the head office is Apple – the company that created the first mass smartphone in the world. In the United States and other corporations are located, which is advanced high technology. And with the high-tech push in the broad masses of old and inches.
At the beginning of our story should provide some clarity. Some people believe that the SI has not been approved in the United States. Oh, so it is not visible in this country that is not too shooting out the details of a person might get that impression. But it is absolutely not true! A whole series of acts, claiming it as the official system of weights and measures of the United States. How then is it that Americans still enjoy the old units? The fact that all acts are adopted for private businesses and ordinary citizens of the country of recommendation (not required) character. This means that every American has the right to measure the usual inches and weigh in familiar from childhood pounds. And this right is enjoyed not only by people but also corporate giants.
United States, Liberia and Myanmar. Three ancient stronghold of units
In a world of only three countries that have not switched to the SI system. This is the United States, Liberia and Myanmar (until 1989 – Burma). The other nations of the world, or have switched to the metric system completely, or at least not officially accepted it as a standard. Another thing, what about the people. In Russia and in the conversation now can be called kilometer “mile”, but all clearly understand that we are talking about the usual metric mile, rather than the old Russian verst.
But the old folk in the U.S. system of weights and measures is used not only in everyday life. Football fields are measured in yards. The work performed by automobile engines, outlandish ft-lbs. Atmospheric pressure – pounds per square inch.
Instead of the SI system in the United States used US Customary System (Traditional System of the United States). It includes more than three hundred different units of measurement of physical quantities. The difficulty lies in the fact that many of these units have the same name, but it means different things.
Here is the easiest and most intuitive to every person, even very far from the engineering wisdom. It would seem that may be difficult in a ton? This is a thousand pounds, and nothing else! But in the U.S. there are at least nine definitions of the term “ton”: short ton (short ton), offset ton (displacement ton), frozen ton (refrigeration ton), a ton of nuclear (nuclear ton), Truck (chartering) ton (freight ton) , are Register ton (register ton), a metric ton (metric ton), jewelry ton (assay ton), a ton or a ton of fuel in coal equivalent (ton of coal equivalent).
And despite all these obvious difficulties, either in business or in the daily life of the United States does not use simple, clear and unambiguous metric system. The reasons for this lie, as is often the case in the history of this country.
The U.S. attitude toward the metric system initially defines the relationship with France
In the British colonies used British Imperial System (British Imperial System). In the late 18th century in France has developed the metric system. Which, of course, did not accept neither the UK nor its colonies.
When the United States gained independence, the country’s attempts to streamline the system of measurement units. But they rested, as often happens, the financial issue. Thomas Jefferson, who served under George Washington, U.S. Secretary of State, approved of the decimal system. But it turned out that define the metric unit of length will be impossible without sending a delegation to France. And it was a costly affair.
Relations with France, which supported the United States in their fight for independence after 1795 entered the stage of cooling. When in 1798, France invited the representatives of various countries to get acquainted with the metric system, the Americans faced a dismissive attitude toward you.
And, nevertheless, the representatives of the United States visited Paris and came from the metric system in delight. But the probability to convince the leaders of nations to transition to the new system of weights and measures, coming from France, was very weak. In 1821, U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy studied units 22 states in the country, and concluded that the US Customary System is sufficiently uniform and not in need of change.
In France, Napoleon reigned, and the Americans had doubts that the French themselves remain loyal they have created a system of weights and measures. As a result, consideration of the metric system in the United States considered the historic stage stop. But this does not mean that it did not come back again and again to the extent that, as the SI system has gained increasing recognition in various corners of our vast world.
U.S. decides to adopt the metric system
In 1865, the U.S. Civil War ended. The Americans looked around and found that the majority of European countries adopted the decimal metric system. And the obvious fact that the United States could no longer ignore. In 1866, Congress had enacted the act under which the metric system became official for use in all contracts, transactions and litigation.
Nine years later, France brought together representatives of the leading countries of the world to discuss the details of the new international version of the metric system. United States received the invitation and sent a delegation. Representatives of the two countries signed an international convention establishing the International Bureau of Weights and Measures and the International Committee of Weights and Measures, whose tasks included the review and acceptance of change.
The agreement provided for the creation of the French town near Paris Servais special room where the standards should place a metric standards, in particular the standard of a meter. This allowed us to avoid the difficulties in understanding the various peoples of what is meant by a particular unit of measurement.
In 1890, the United States has received a copy of the international standard meter and the international standard kilogram. According to the Order Mendenhall (named after the superintendent of weights and measures) metric units taken as a fundamental standard of length and weight in the United States. The yard was defined as 3600/3937 meters, and the pound as 0.4535924277 kilograms.
In 1959, the English-speaking countries have made some clarifications: 1 yard was equal to 0.9144 meters, and 1 pound to 0.4535923. That is, formally the United States has 145 years, as was the metric system as the standard of weights and measures, and for about 120 years in this country should have to measure everything in meters and kilograms. But, in practice, the decision does not mean its implementation in real life.
The metric system in the U.S. today
Many prominent scientists and U.S. politicians were supporters of the metric system mandatory for the whole country. In 1971 he began to feel that the United States finally will be among the countries that have adopted the metric system. National Bureau of Standards has issued a report on “America Metric”, which recommended the country to switch to the metric system in the ten-year period.
In 1975, Congress passed Metric Conversion Act, the essence of which was the same as that of the recommendations made by the standards, but with two important differences. Tight time frame is not set and the transition itself to metric assumed voluntary. As a result, students of the country began to pass the SI, and some companies have attempted to “metrifikatsii” Turning futile propaganda, since no real action to go to metric units was not.
It turned out that the U.S. units are used, which in the rest of the world has forgotten. A growing number of consumers of American products began to demand that the goods supplied were provided with the characteristics of the metric system. As American companies have discovered more and more new production facilities in Europe and Asia, it was necessary in order to decide which units to use: traditional American or metric.
Recognizing these challenges, in 1988, Congress amended the Metric Conversion Act, according to which the metric system was considered a “preferred system of weights and measures for the needs of the U.S. trade and commerce.” By the end of 1992 from federal agencies required the use of metric units of measurement values related to the procurement, grants, and other matters related to the business activity. But these provisions relate only to government agencies. Private business has remained free to use the familiar system of measurement units. Attempts have been interested in the metric system a small business, but a lot of progress has been noted.
At present, “metrifitsirovano” only about 30% of manufactured products in the United States. The pharmaceutical industry of the United States called “metric strictly” as all the characteristics of pharmaceutical products of the country are collected only in metric units. At present the notation and drinks in metric and U.S. systems for traditional values. This industry is considered “soft metric”. The metric system is used in the United States as producers of the film, tools and bicycles. The rest of the U.S. measure prefer the old way. In ancient inches and pounds. And this is true even in such a young industry, such as high-tech.
What prevents the highly developed industrial country go to the generally accepted on the planet weights and measures? There are a number of reasons.
Conservatism and costs impede the transition to metric
iPhone в стиле ретро
One of the reasons are the costs that would have to bear the country’s economy in the case of migration to the SI. After all, would have to revise technical drawings and instructions for complex equipment. This would require considerable work paid professionals. And hence money. For example, NASA engineers reported that the transfer of units of the metric system in the drawing space shuttles, software and documentation would cost 370 million U.S. dollars, which is about half the cost of a regular launch of the space shuttle.
But alone the high cost of crossing the cold attitude of Americans to explain the metric system will not work. Psychological factors play their own, and not the least, a role in curbing the country’s transition to the international system of weights and measures. Thrust American conservatism makes them resist any innovations, especially those that come from the aliens.
Americans like to always have his way. Individualism is the main feature of the representatives of the people. The descendants of the conquerors of the vast expanses of the Wild West with the tenacity reject attempts to force them to abandon the usual childhood inches and pounds.
No high technology can not make people reconsider their conservative views. For example, the commercial mobile communications has existed since 1947 . But really, it was fun until the early 1980s. Events occur only when the consciousness of the average person is ready to accept them. This, in turn, is possible only when the person sees the point. A special meaning for themselves in the metric system, the average American just does not see.
Therefore, all efforts to introduce the metric system in the U.S. run into an impregnable fortress of the daily lives of ordinary citizens who are not willing to let go meters and kilograms. There is another important reason, which we talked a little earlier. Much of the world’s largest corporations are located in the United States. Their products are competitive in the global market despite the unusual inches and pounds. What was unusual! The whole world is very surprised if one day the screen size of the next smartphone will be listed in the familiar from school centimeters, not inches, apparently descended from the pages of a history book. This means that the Americans have no reason to give up their traditional system of weights and measures.
According to the materials science.howstuffworks.com
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