Who measures the measurements?

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Ayn_Randian
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Ayn_Randian » 06 Jun 2013, 21:48

Jadagul wrote:
tr0g wrote:Somebody drag Jadagul into this thread. The metric system was designed as a base 10 system, so the math is easier and more convenient. But for a lot of derived units, the nominal metric units are grossly over or under sized. The old English system, for all it's faults (and there are many) is human centered. It's pretty easy to get a rough idea of a foot, for instance. And for a lot of people, the last joint of your thumb is ~ an inch.

But, and this is where Jadagul comes in, it's all completely arbitrary. They've done a lot of work to get away from the arbitrariness of it, but look at the offical definition of a meter: the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second. You can't get much more arbitrary than that bullshit*.

* Originally the meter was supposed to be 1/10,0000 of a line of longitude, but teh surveyors screwed up. There's an interesting book about it, the name of which escapes me.
Don't need to drag me in, you got there first.

Metric is way easier to do math in; I'm about 70% sure that the reason I find imperial easier to work with in real life isn't just familiarity. Describing a person's height in meters is just awkard--rounding to the nearest meter, basically everyone is two meters tall. Kilograms and pounds are both fine (and if you lift weights you soon get very good at converting), as are miles and kilometers (I assume--I can't visualize either).

The problem with the temperature scale is that for the most part, Farenheit sets 0 and 100 to be the ends of the scale you expect to see--sure, I live somewhere where it hits 115 on occasion, but you can really lump everything over 100 into "too hot." Celsius norms off of water and Farenheit norms off of typical weather.
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Aresen
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Aresen » 07 Jun 2013, 00:10

Mo wrote: I think it's a "used to it" factor more than anything.
This.

My niece and nephew, who have grown up with SI measurements, look at me like I've grown horns when I slip into the old English measurements.

Even my knowledge of English measurements becomes screwed up when I go to the US, where the entire volume measurement is driven off the "Fluid ounce" that was NOT equal to the fluid oz of the Imperial measure.

I find that I am almost entirely adapted to the SI measurements. Speeds in kph now mean more to me than speeds in mph. I now mostly think in Celsius. I buy from the deli in grams (actually, multiples of 100 grams). I still think of my weight and height in pounds and feet and inches, though.
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thoreau
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by thoreau » 07 Jun 2013, 00:52

Jadagul wrote:Metric is way easier to do math in; I'm about 70% sure that the reason I find imperial easier to work with in real life isn't just familiarity. Describing a person's height in meters is just awkard--rounding to the nearest meter, basically everyone is two meters tall.
If we used metric, we'd probably describe people as 188 centimeters (or whatever) instead of 6ft 2in. We'd say that a kid grew 2 centimeters over the summer instead of saying he grew almost an inch. It would work out. We'd acquire intuition for it pretty easily.
Jadagul wrote:The problem with the temperature scale is that for the most part, Farenheit sets 0 and 100 to be the ends of the scale you expect to see--sure, I live somewhere where it hits 115 on occasion, but you can really lump everything over 100 into "too hot." Celsius norms off of water and Farenheit norms off of typical weather.
We'd acquire intuition that anything over 30 is pretty hot, that anything below 0 means ice, and the increments in between would correspond to differences that people actually have a chance at actually noticing.
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Warren
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Warren » 07 Jun 2013, 02:21

I bristle at the unspoken assumption that the only temperature to be measured is the weather and how it relates to human comfort. Just as often I'm interested in cooking temperatures. Cecilius is an inherently superior scale for cooking. Most of the time you don't need to be more accurate than +/- a couple degrees C (even less for baking), and freezing and boiling are important milestones.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Eric the .5b » 07 Jun 2013, 21:51

thoreau wrote:If we used metric, we'd probably describe people as 188 centimeters (or whatever) instead of 6ft 2in. We'd say that a kid grew 2 centimeters over the summer instead of saying he grew almost an inch. It would work out. We'd acquire intuition for it pretty easily.
Yeah, the only time I've heard or seen people's heights given in meters instead of centimeters has been the occasional reference to someone being two meters tall (or "over two meters tall"). That's why there's the whole powers-of-ten business in the first place.
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Highway » 07 Jun 2013, 22:03

Height in cm is prevalent elsewhere. Even though I'm about 188cm, I still find it hard to relate to heights in cm. Except for Japanese seiyuu, whose heights are always "Short". Someone ranked the female seiyuu, the tallest was Takako Honda at 173 cm. The shortest? Yumi Shimura at 138.5.
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Number 6
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Number 6 » 08 Jun 2013, 22:20

Confession: doctors and nurses will occasionally tell me a patient's temperature in Celsius. I have to look up what's normal and/or do the conversion every single time. I've got a pretty good sense for human body temp in F, (100 is getting into real fever territory, 103 is serious, 105 is oh shit time, etc.), but none whatsoever for Celsius. Despite my support for the metric system, I must admit that I have no intuitive feel at all for the celsius scale.
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Highway
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Highway » 08 Jun 2013, 23:25

Number 6 wrote:Confession: doctors and nurses will occasionally tell me a patient's temperature in Celsius. I have to look up what's normal and/or do the conversion every single time. I've got a pretty good sense for human body temp in F, (100 is getting into real fever territory, 103 is serious, 105 is oh shit time, etc.), but none whatsoever for Celsius. Despite my support for the metric system, I must admit that I have no intuitive feel at all for the celsius scale.
I just do a cheap conversion: F = 2xC +30. But that won't work well if you're doing it in 10ths and worried about body temperature in a range of 1 or 2 C.
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by thoreau » 27 Jun 2019, 16:27

OK, I'm in a very boring day-long meeting, so I started reading stuff about the duodecimal system, then checked to see if we've ever discussed it here and found this thread.

Here's something fascinating that I worked out about a system of duodecimal measurements:

The original definition of the meter was that 10 million meters (i.e. 10^7 meters) should equal the distance from the equator to the North Pole, to make navigational calculations easy. Let's suppose that the dominant societies had adopted base 12 number systems. A logical way of defining a "duodecimal meter" (dm) would be that 12^7 dm = 10^7 m, which gives you that 1 dm = 0.279 meter, or 27.9 cm. This is very close to a foot, which is an easy unit to visualize. Logical subdivisions of a dm would be a twelth of a dm, which would be about 2 inches 1 inch, also easy to visualize.

Logical units of volume would be a cubic dm (about a cubic foot) for large things and 1/1728 (1/1000 in base 12) of that for small things (about 12 mL, a very easy thing to visualize). If we set our units of mass equal to either a cubic dm or 1/1728 of that, the smaller mass unit winds up being about 12 grams, a mass large enough that we can notice it easily when we grasp it but not so large that it's difficult for healthy toddlers to lift.

Temperature units would be somewhere between the degree Fahrenheit and degree Celsius, if we set the freezing point of water to zero and the boiling point to 144 (100 in base 12). The duodegree would be about 0.7 degree C.

OK, I'm sold. Base 12 it is.

EDIT TO FIX MATH ERROR
Last edited by thoreau on 27 Jun 2019, 16:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Jadagul » 27 Jun 2019, 16:43

thoreau wrote:
27 Jun 2019, 16:27

The original definition of the meter was that 10 million meters (i.e. 10^7 meters) should equal the distance from the equator to the North Pole, to make navigational calculations easy. Let's suppose that the dominant societies had adopted base 12 number systems. A logical way of defining a "duodecimal meter" (dm) would be that 12^7 dm = 10^7 m, which gives you that 1 dm = 0.279 meter, or 27.9 cm. This is very close to a foot, which is an easy unit to visualize. Logical subdivisions of a dm would be a twelth of a dm, which would be about 2 inches, also easy to visualize.
I'm confused. A dm is a foot, but a twelfth of a dm is two inches?

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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Jake » 27 Jun 2019, 16:48

Jadagul wrote:
27 Jun 2019, 16:43
thoreau wrote:
27 Jun 2019, 16:27

The original definition of the meter was that 10 million meters (i.e. 10^7 meters) should equal the distance from the equator to the North Pole, to make navigational calculations easy. Let's suppose that the dominant societies had adopted base 12 number systems. A logical way of defining a "duodecimal meter" (dm) would be that 12^7 dm = 10^7 m, which gives you that 1 dm = 0.279 meter, or 27.9 cm. This is very close to a foot, which is an easy unit to visualize. Logical subdivisions of a dm would be a twelth of a dm, which would be about 2 inches, also easy to visualize.
I'm confused. A dm is a foot, but a twelfth of a dm is two inches?
I think it'd be "about two centimeters", not "about two inches". 2.33 cm, roughly. Or about 0.92 inches.
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thoreau
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by thoreau » 27 Jun 2019, 16:49

I was doing this quickly and did my math wrong.

I divided 27.9 cm by 12 and then wrote the wrong units.
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Eric the .5b » 27 Jun 2019, 19:48

I'm reminded of this old post:
Eric the .5b wrote:
07 Nov 2017, 05:58
Take Jefferson's system and just change the factor of 10 to 12. 12 inches per foot, 12 feet per decade (gotta rename that...), 12 decades per rood, 12 roods per furlong, 12 furlongs per mile. So, 12^4 or 20,736 feet per mile.

Hmm, maybe we could cut out a level to keep the miles smaller. Yeah, drop decades and just go to 12 feet per rood (or rod).

Or perhaps, balls it hard, keep the "decades" level, and use leagues instead of miles!
Obviously, the "decade" needs to be the "dozen", and maybe "rods" instead of "roods".


Tangentially, years back in a discussion elsewhere of minor-differences-for-alternate-universes, I had this idea:
The dominant measurement system of the world uses feet, miles, pounds, bushels, and hogsheads. That is, Thomas Jeffersons's decimal reinvention of traditional measures, which had rather a bit of support. Here, it managed to get passed quickly, and its basis in the internationally agreed-upon second pendulum standard made it more popular among governments than the metric system, with its meter being based on the meridian of longitude passing through Paris.

The eventual SI system came to use a basis of Pounds-Feet-Seconds-Amperes, but with the familiar prefixes (kilofeet, millipounds) rather than Jefferson's different unit names for every power of ten, if only because derived measures made it hard to devise (and remember!) so many unit names. (Mind, this didn't stop astronomers and such from coming up with truly large and increasingly whimsically-named units, including the "deus"; 2.12 deus is the estimated mass of the visible universe.)

However, for everyday use, people are far more likely to use "standard measures" than SI, preferring "2 miles" to "20 kilofeet" and the like.
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Aresen » 27 Jun 2019, 19:59

thoreau wrote:
27 Jun 2019, 16:27
OK, I'm in a very boring day-long meeting, so I started reading stuff about the duodecimal system, then checked to see if we've ever discussed it here and found this thread.

Here's something fascinating that I worked out about a system of duodecimal measurements:

The original definition of the meter was that 10 million meters (i.e. 10^7 meters) should equal the distance from the equator to the North Pole, to make navigational calculations easy. Let's suppose that the dominant societies had adopted base 12 number systems. A logical way of defining a "duodecimal meter" (dm) would be that 12^7 dm = 10^7 m, which gives you that 1 dm = 0.279 meter, or 27.9 cm. This is very close to a foot, which is an easy unit to visualize. Logical subdivisions of a dm would be a twelth of a dm, which would be about 2 inches 1 inch, also easy to visualize.

Logical units of volume would be a cubic dm (about a cubic foot) for large things and 1/1728 (1/1000 in base 12) of that for small things (about 12 mL, a very easy thing to visualize). If we set our units of mass equal to either a cubic dm or 1/1728 of that, the smaller mass unit winds up being about 12 grams, a mass large enough that we can notice it easily when we grasp it but not so large that it's difficult for healthy toddlers to lift.

Temperature units would be somewhere between the degree Fahrenheit and degree Celsius, if we set the freezing point of water to zero and the boiling point to 144 (100 in base 12). The duodegree would be about 0.7 degree C.

OK, I'm sold. Base 12 it is.

EDIT TO FIX MATH ERROR
But I don't want to live in the 13th century grossanum.
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 27 Jun 2019, 20:02

Fortnights and furlongs is the only sane alternative.

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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by tr0g » 27 Jun 2019, 22:02

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
27 Jun 2019, 20:02
Fortnights and furlongs is the only sane alternative.
I have given people speeds in furlongs per fortnight before. If I ask you what units you want your answer in, don’t tell me to pick. I have MathCad and a weird sense of humor.
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Jadagul » 28 Jun 2019, 03:44

It turns out most talks or class meetings last approximately one microcentury.

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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by Aresen » 28 Jun 2019, 10:44

Jadagul wrote:
28 Jun 2019, 03:44
It turns out most talks or class meetings last approximately one microcentury.
Took me a moment, but you're right on paper. However, if powerpoint is involved, it feels like a megacentury.
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Re: Who measures the measurements?

Post by lunchstealer » 28 Jun 2019, 18:15

thoreau wrote:
27 Jun 2019, 16:27
OK, I'm in a very boring day-long meeting, so I started reading stuff about the duodecimal system, then checked to see if we've ever discussed it here and found this thread.

Here's something fascinating that I worked out about a system of duodecimal measurements:

The original definition of the meter was that 10 million meters (i.e. 10^7 meters) should equal the distance from the equator to the North Pole, to make navigational calculations easy. Let's suppose that the dominant societies had adopted base 12 number systems. A logical way of defining a "duodecimal meter" (dm) would be that 12^7 dm = 10^7 m, which gives you that 1 dm = 0.279 meter, or 27.9 cm. This is very close to a foot, which is an easy unit to visualize. Logical subdivisions of a dm would be a twelth of a dm, which would be about 2 inches 1 inch, also easy to visualize.

Logical units of volume would be a cubic dm (about a cubic foot) for large things and 1/1728 (1/1000 in base 12) of that for small things (about 12 mL, a very easy thing to visualize). If we set our units of mass equal to either a cubic dm or 1/1728 of that, the smaller mass unit winds up being about 12 grams, a mass large enough that we can notice it easily when we grasp it but not so large that it's difficult for healthy toddlers to lift.

Temperature units would be somewhere between the degree Fahrenheit and degree Celsius, if we set the freezing point of water to zero and the boiling point to 144 (100 in base 12). The duodegree would be about 0.7 degree C.

OK, I'm sold. Base 12 it is.

EDIT TO FIX MATH ERROR
Yeah, I did this with a base-12 fps system, where the dmile was set to 1000 dft (1728 base ten), which is a workable long-ish distance, about 1/3 of a current mile. Bonus, you'd get speed limits around 200mp, which is wicked fast.
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