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Author Topic:   How Scientifically Literate Are You?
ringo
Member (Idle past 497 days)
Posts: 20940
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005


Message 121 of 134 (698157)
05-03-2013 11:46 AM
Reply to: Message 111 by Dr Adequate
05-02-2013 3:31 PM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
Dr Adequate writes:
... it's easier to divide by a hundred and get the right answer than it is to divide by 5280 and get the right answer.
That was my point: it's too easy. It's easier to make mistakes when you don't have to think about what you're doing.
I'm not arguing that the Imperial system is better. I'm just saying that the metric system isn't intrinsically better. It may be better for some things but it isn't necessarily better across the board. That's why we still use Imperial measures for a lot of things when they're more convenient.
Dr Adequate writes:
Arguing by analogy is like using a giraffe as a can-opener.
Again you make my point. A giraffe is better for opening cans than a pillow. A stand-alone can-opener may be ideal for opening cans but it doesn't make a good pet. No single thing (or system) is all things to all men.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 111 by Dr Adequate, posted 05-02-2013 3:31 PM Dr Adequate has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 123 by NoNukes, posted 05-03-2013 1:00 PM ringo has replied

  
ringo
Member (Idle past 497 days)
Posts: 20940
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005


Message 122 of 134 (698160)
05-03-2013 11:51 AM
Reply to: Message 109 by dwise1
05-02-2013 3:07 PM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
dwise1 writes:
... the mechanical pumps could not be set for prices higher than 99.9 cents per gallon.
I recall paying 50.9 cents per half-gallon at a lonely gas station in the Fraser Canyon. I think it was 1977.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 109 by dwise1, posted 05-02-2013 3:07 PM dwise1 has not replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 123 of 134 (698164)
05-03-2013 1:00 PM
Reply to: Message 121 by ringo
05-03-2013 11:46 AM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
That was my point: it's too easy. It's easier to make mistakes when you don't have to think about what you're doing.
Your argument here seems to be that finding imperial system conversion factors is difficult enough that a person who who wants to convert from feet to miles is more likely to find the correct conversion factor than when converting from, say meters to kilometers.
I find that prospect a bit dubious, but let me instead suggest that if left alone, many people are unlikely to produce the conversion factor for feet to miles if given any infinite amount of time to recall it, and that the difficulty for recalling the correct conversion for meters to kilometers is much smaller, and that the same conversion factor works for grams to kilograms, or from Hertz to kiloHertz.
That's why we still use Imperial measures for a lot of things when they're more convenient.
There is a metric unit that is conveniently sized for any task. The only advantages Imperial measures have over metric units comes from the tradition of use. My main 'beef' with non metric units is the division of units into non-decimal parts. Converting calculated values into 16ths and 32nds before you can use them is an error prone step that provides no extra value.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)
I would say here something that was heard from an ecclesiastic of the most eminent degree; ‘That the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how the heaven goes.’ Galileo Galilei 1615.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass

This message is a reply to:
 Message 121 by ringo, posted 05-03-2013 11:46 AM ringo has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 124 by ringo, posted 05-03-2013 1:18 PM NoNukes has not replied
 Message 127 by dwise1, posted 05-03-2013 6:24 PM NoNukes has replied

  
ringo
Member (Idle past 497 days)
Posts: 20940
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005


Message 124 of 134 (698169)
05-03-2013 1:18 PM
Reply to: Message 123 by NoNukes
05-03-2013 1:00 PM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
NoNukes writes:
Your argument here seems to be that finding imperial system conversion factors is difficult enough that a person who who wants to convert from feet to miles is more likely to find the correct conversion factor than when converting from, say meters to kilometers.
My argument is really from the opposite direction: that people using easy conversion factors are more likely to be careless with them.
NoNukes writes:
There is a metric unit that is conveniently sized for any task.
And yet we don't use them. Hmm....
Convenience is as convenience does.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 123 by NoNukes, posted 05-03-2013 1:00 PM NoNukes has not replied

  
xongsmith
Member
Posts: 2603
From: massachusetts US
Joined: 01-01-2009
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 125 of 134 (698172)
05-03-2013 2:11 PM


Remember the old saying:
"A pint's a pound the world around."
But wait...I just read that a UK pint is 20oz, while a US pint is 16....time to move to England for my pints.

- xongsmith, 5.7d

Replies to this message:
 Message 126 by Coragyps, posted 05-03-2013 6:11 PM xongsmith has seen this message but not replied

  
Coragyps
Member (Idle past 819 days)
Posts: 5553
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 126 of 134 (698186)
05-03-2013 6:11 PM
Reply to: Message 125 by xongsmith
05-03-2013 2:11 PM


And the ounces aren't the same size, either.....

This message is a reply to:
 Message 125 by xongsmith, posted 05-03-2013 2:11 PM xongsmith has seen this message but not replied

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 5974
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 127 of 134 (698188)
05-03-2013 6:24 PM
Reply to: Message 123 by NoNukes
05-03-2013 1:00 PM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
My main 'beef' with non metric units is the division of units into non-decimal parts. Converting calculated values into 16ths and 32nds before you can use them is an error prone step that provides no extra value.
In calculus class, I found this to be true: We used calculus to set up the problem, did most of the work in algebra, and made most of the mistakes in the arithmetic. And when you're having to do lots of long division and multiplication with inconvenient numbers, that's just all the more opportunity to make arithmetic errors.
For those who are not convinced, here's the type of problem I would have to work with in US conventional units: You want to hang a rectangular object centered horizontally on a wall. Yes, you could solve this with constructions rather than with measurements, but to make ths a valid example we must use measurements. You take the two measurements and they both in several feet plus some inches, plus some fraction of an inch. It works best if we can put them all in the same units, so for both we have to convert feet and inches down to 32nds of an inch. Then we subtract the smaller from the larger and divide the remainder by two to get the width of the left border in 32nds of an inch. Which means that now you must convert that answer out to feet, inches, and a fraction of an inch. Lots of converting to have to do while staying within the system of measurements.
You could avoid all that converting by working the problem like we work time problems, by keeping them in their units and then do whatever borrowing and carrying may be necessary. Very cumbersome and even more prone to error.
In contrast, in metric you would take the measurements in meters and you could keep them in meters throughout the calculation, because fractions of meters are treated as floating-point fractions not as rational fractions.
Though interestingly, I've seen it pointed out that 12 inches to a foot is easy to divide up because 12 is one of those special numbers like 60, of which 12 is a factor: 12 is evenly divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6 -- throw in 5 as a factor and you have 60.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 123 by NoNukes, posted 05-03-2013 1:00 PM NoNukes has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 128 by NoNukes, posted 05-03-2013 10:32 PM dwise1 has not replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 128 of 134 (698197)
05-03-2013 10:32 PM
Reply to: Message 127 by dwise1
05-03-2013 6:24 PM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
Though interestingly, I've seen it pointed out that 12 inches to a foot is easy to divide up because 12 is one of those special numbers like 60, of which 12 is a factor: 12 is evenly divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6 -- throw in 5 as a factor and you have 60.
How often do you need to subdivide exactly one foot? This seems even less convincing than ringos examples.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)
I would say here something that was heard from an ecclesiastic of the most eminent degree; ‘That the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how the heaven goes.’ Galileo Galilei 1615.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass

This message is a reply to:
 Message 127 by dwise1, posted 05-03-2013 6:24 PM dwise1 has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 129 by ringo, posted 05-04-2013 11:58 AM NoNukes has not replied

  
ringo
Member (Idle past 497 days)
Posts: 20940
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005


(2)
Message 129 of 134 (698223)
05-04-2013 11:58 AM
Reply to: Message 128 by NoNukes
05-03-2013 10:32 PM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
NoNukes writes:
How often do you need to subdivide exactly one foot?
You can buy a metric tape measure but you can't buy a metric two-by-four to measure with it.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 128 by NoNukes, posted 05-03-2013 10:32 PM NoNukes has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 130 by Coragyps, posted 05-04-2013 12:23 PM ringo has seen this message but not replied

  
Coragyps
Member (Idle past 819 days)
Posts: 5553
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 130 of 134 (698225)
05-04-2013 12:23 PM
Reply to: Message 129 by ringo
05-04-2013 11:58 AM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
Don't go measuring a two-by-four expecting it to be two by four, though. You'll be disappointed.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 129 by ringo, posted 05-04-2013 11:58 AM ringo has seen this message but not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 132 by Dogmafood, posted 05-05-2013 10:51 AM Coragyps has not replied

  
Son Goku
Inactive Member


Message 131 of 134 (698294)
05-05-2013 9:37 AM


Wierd units.
How about in Modern physics where time can be measured in inverse Joules.

  
Dogmafood
Member (Idle past 433 days)
Posts: 1815
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


(3)
Message 132 of 134 (698305)
05-05-2013 10:51 AM
Reply to: Message 130 by Coragyps
05-04-2013 12:23 PM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
Don't go measuring a two-by-four expecting it to be two by four, though. You'll be disappointed.
There is a strong tradition for wood to be marketed as larger than it really is.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 130 by Coragyps, posted 05-04-2013 12:23 PM Coragyps has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 133 by dwise1, posted 05-05-2013 1:21 PM Dogmafood has replied

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 5974
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 133 of 134 (698320)
05-05-2013 1:21 PM
Reply to: Message 132 by Dogmafood
05-05-2013 10:51 AM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
Though there was a time when a 24 did indeed measure 2 inches by 4 inches. You will still find them in the walls of older houses built in the first half of the 20th century and you will encounter them when doing remodel work in older houses. And instead of the rounded edges we see now, these had nice sharp right-angle edges.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 132 by Dogmafood, posted 05-05-2013 10:51 AM Dogmafood has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 134 by Dogmafood, posted 05-05-2013 3:06 PM dwise1 has not replied

  
Dogmafood
Member (Idle past 433 days)
Posts: 1815
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 134 of 134 (698333)
05-05-2013 3:06 PM
Reply to: Message 133 by dwise1
05-05-2013 1:21 PM


Re: Metric System groupies and scientific literacy
I guess my deadpan deliver needs work.
Though there was a time when a 24 did indeed measure 2 inches by 4 inches.
Yes I know them well as my house was built around 1900.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 133 by dwise1, posted 05-05-2013 1:21 PM dwise1 has not replied

  
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