## Wednesday, 25 January 2012

### US Imperialists

We had an email from some friends in the US recently telling us of the birth of their fourth child. The child's measurements, we were told, were 6 lb 10.6 oz weight and 18.5 inches length.

Isn't it odd how attached Americans are to these archaic imperial units (pounds, ounces and inches in this case)? It's not just that they cling to them for measuring neonates. Their school text books are the same, with elementary school children having to struggle with stones, pounds and ounces, yards, feet and inches, and so on – as I did when I was a child in medieval Britain.

Of course, we can't quite shake off imperial units in the UK either. Miles seem to be here to stay, plus pints of ale, and pounds of apples in Norwich market. And, OK, I know, the proud parents in Britain do tend to continue to give us the baby's weight in pounds and ounces. But, at least we were the ones who had an Empire on which to impose our imperial units! I would have thought the US would have been way ahead of us in making metric units standard.

Incidentally, when we haven't bought petrol in gallons for years, why do people insist on telling me how many miles to the gallon their car does? My new Honda Jazz, if you're interested, does 50 miles to the gallon comfortably on a long journey. Sorry, I meant to say 11 miles to the litre.
(To do the conversion, just multiply by 0.22.)

#### 1 comment:

1. I'm with you, Derek. Here in Australia we also have difficulty releasing our thinking from imperial units, even though we "went metric" in the 1970s.
There is a video on this topic on my site if anyone is interested: http://www.classroomprofessor.com/teaching-math/ep-4-cubic-meter/