World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000020353
Reproduction Date:

Title: Metrication  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Metrication in India, Metrication in the United States, Imperial units, Metrication in the United Kingdom, Chinese units of measurement
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A speedometer used in American and British cars, showing the speed of the vehicle in miles per hour (outer, in white) and kilometres per hour (inner, in red) – for Canadian[1] vehicles the locations are reversed
A speedometer from an Australian car, showing the speed of the vehicle only in kilometres per hour, as in almost every other country.

Metrication or metrification is the conversion to the metric system of weights and measures.[2] This has involved a long process of independent and systematic conversions of countries from various local systems of weights and measures. Metrication began in France during the 1790s, and it spread widely during the following two centuries. The metric system became the internationally dominant measurement system and legal standard. The overall process is sometimes called metricizing.

An example of metrication in 1860 when Tuscany became part of modern Italy


The 2006 CIA Factbook stated that the "U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not mainly use the metric system", (in addition to the nonindustrialised countries of Burma and Liberia).[3] Some countries, however, have residual usage of non-metric units. In the United Kingdom, for example, metric is the official system for most regulated trading by weight or measure purposes, but miles, yards, and feet remain the official units for road signage—and use of imperial units is widespread.[4][5] The Imperial pint (expressed in metric units) also remains a permitted unit for milk in returnable bottles and for draught beer and cider in British pubs.[4]

Some sources identify Liberia as metric. In Burma on October 10, 2013, Dr. Pwint San, the Deputy Minister for Commerce, announced that the country is preparing to adopt the metric system.[6] Both Burma and Liberia are substantially metric countries, trading internationally in metric units. Visiting advocates of metrication have stated that they use metric units for many things internally with exceptions such as old petrol pumps in Burma, calibrated in British Imperial gallons. These and other countries have adopted metric measures to some degree through international trade and standardization[7] for example, Sierra Leone switched to selling fuel by the litre in May 2011.[8] The United States mandated the acceptance of the metric system in 1866 for commercial and legal proceedings, without displacing their customary units.[9]

In 1971 the National Bureau of Standards completed a three-year study of the impact of increasing worldwide metric use on the U.S. The study concluded with a report to Congress entitled A Metric America – A Decision Whose Time Has Come. Since then metric use has increased in the U.S., principally in the manufacturing and educational sectors. Public Law 93-380, enacted 21 August 1974, states that it is the policy of the U.S. to encourage educational agencies and institutions to prepare students to use the metric system of measurement with ease and facility as a part of the regular education program. On 23 December 1975, President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-168, the Metric Conversion Act of 1975. This act declares a national policy of coordinating the increasing use of the metric system in the U.S. It established a U.S. Metric Board whose functions as of 1 October 1982 were transferred to the Dept of Commerce, Office of Metric Programs, to coordinate the voluntary conversion to the metric system.[10]

A number of jurisdictions have laws mandating or permitting other systems of measurement in some or all contexts, such as the United Kingdom, which still uses many imperial measures, such as miles and yards for road-sign distances, road speed limits in miles per hour, pints of beer, and inches for clothes.[11] Most countries have adopted the metric system officially over a transitional period where both units are used for a set period of time. Some countries such as Guyana, for example, have officially adopted the metric system, but have had some trouble over time implementing it.[12] Antigua and Barbuda, also "officially" metric, is moving toward total implementation of the metric system, but slower than expected. The government had announced that they have plans to convert their country to the metric system by the first quarter of 2015.[13] Other Caribbean countries such as Saint Lucia are officially metric but are still in the process toward full conversion.[14]

The European Union used the Units of Measure Directive to attempt to achieve a common system of weights and measures and to facilitate the European Single Market. Throughout the 1990s, the European Commission helped accelerate the process for member countries to complete their metric conversion processes. The United Kingdom secured permanent exemptions for the mile and yard in road markings, and (with Ireland) for the pint (Imperial) of draught beer sold in pubs[15] (see Metrication in the United Kingdom). In 2007, the European Commission also announced that (to appease British public opinion and to facilitate trade with the United States) it was to abandon the requirement for metric-only labelling on packaged goods, and to allow dual metric–imperial marking to continue indefinitely.[15]

Other countries using the imperial system completed official metrication during the second half of the 20th century or the first decade of the 21st century. The most recent to complete this process was the Republic of Ireland, which began metric conversion in the 1970s and completed it in early 2005.[16]

In January 2007 NASA decided to use metric units for all future moon missions, in line with the practice of other space agencies.[17]

The United States and the United Kingdom have some active opposition to metrication, particularly where updated weights and measures laws would make obsolete historic systems of measurement. Other countries, like France and Japan, that once had significant popular opposition to metrication now have complete acceptance of metrication.

Before the metric system

The Roman empire used the pes (foot) measure. This was divided into 12 unciae ("inches"). The libra ("pound") was another measure that had wide effect on European weight and currency long after Roman times, e.g. lb, £. The measure came to vary greatly over time. Charlemagne was one of several rulers who launched reform programmes of various kinds to standardise units for measure and currency in his empire, but there was no real general breakthrough.

In medieval Europe, local laws on weights and measures were set by trade guilds on a city-by-city basis. For example, the ell or elle was a unit of length commonly used in Europe, but its length varied from 40.2 centimetres in one part of Germany to 70 centimetres in The Netherlands and 94.5 centimetres in Edinburgh. A survey of Switzerland in 1838 revealed that the foot had 37 different regional variations, the ell had 68, there were 83 different measures for dry grain, 70 measures for fluids and 63 different measures for "dead weights".[18] When Isaac Newton wrote Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687, he quoted his measurements in Parisian feet so readers could understand the size. Examples of efforts to have local intercity or national standards for measurements include the Scottish law of 1641, and the British standard imperial system of 1824, which is still commonly used in the United Kingdom. At one time Imperial China had successfully standardised units for volume throughout its territory, but by 1936 official investigations uncovered 53 dimensions for the chi varying from 200 millimetres to 1250 millimetres; 32 dimensions of the cheng, between 500 millilitres and 8 litres; and 36 different tsin ranging from 300 grams to 2500 grams.[19] However, revolutionary France was to produce the definitive International System of Units which has come to be used by most of the world today.

The desire for a single international system of measurement came from growing international trade and the need to apply common International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Forerunners of the metric system

Decimal numbers are an essential part of the metric system, with only one base unit and multiples created on the decimal base, the figures remain the same. This simplifies calculations. Although the Indians used decimal numbers for mathematical computations, it was Simon Stevin who in 1585 first advocated the use of decimal numbers for everyday purposes in his booklet De Thiende (old Dutch for 'the tenth'). He also declared that it would only be a matter of time before decimal numbers were used for currencies and measurements. His notation for decimal fractions was clumsy, but this was overcome with the introduction of the decimal point, generally attributed to Bartholomaeus Pitiscus who used this notation in his trigonometrical tables (1595).[20]

In his Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, published in 1668, John Wilkins proposed a system of measurement that was very similar in concept to today's metric system. He proposed retaining the second as the basic unit of time and proposed that the length of a pendulum which crossed the zero position once a second (i.e. had a period of two seconds) should be the base unit of length. This length, for which he proposed the name "standard", would have been 994 mm. His base unit of mass, which he proposed calling a "hundred", would have been the mass of a cubic standard of distilled rainwater. The names that he proposed for decimal multiples and subunits of his base units of measure were the names of units of measure that were in use at the time.[21][22]

In 1670, Gabriel Mouton published a proposal that was in essence similar to Wilkins' proposal, except that his base unit of length would have been 1/1000 of a minute of arc (about 2.04 m) of geographical latitude. He proposed calling this unit the virga. Rather than using different names for each unit of length, he proposed a series of names that had prefixes, rather like the prefixes found in SI.[23]

In 1790, Thomas Jefferson submitted a report to the United States Congress in which he proposed the adoption of a decimal system of coinage and of weights and measures. He proposed calling his base unit of length a "foot" which he suggested should be either 3/10 or 1/3 of the length of a pendulum that had a period of one second – that is 3/10 or 1/3 of the "standard" proposed by Wilkins over a century previously. This would have equated to 11.755 English inches (29.8 cm) or 13.06 English inches (33.1 cm). Like Wilkins, the names that he proposed for multiples and subunits of his base units of measure were the names of units of measure that were in use at the time.[24]

Conversion process

The metric system was officially introduced in France in December 1799. In the 19th century, the metric system was adopted by almost all European countries: Portugal (1814);[25] Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (1820); Switzerland (1835); Spain (1850s); Italy (1861); Germany (1870, legally from 1 January 1872);[26] and Austria-Hungary (1876, but the law was adopted in 1871).[27] Thailand did not formally adopt the metric system until 1923, but the Royal Thai Survey Department used it for cadastral survey as early as 1896.[28] Denmark and Iceland adopted the metric system in 1907.

Chronology and status of conversion by country

Countries by date of metrication. Colours red to green show the pattern of metrication from 1795 to 1998. Black identifies countries that have not adopted the metric system as the primary measurement system. White identifies countries that already used the metric system at the time they gained their independence
Links in the country point to articles about metrication in that country.[29]
year metrication
process started[30][31][32]
country previous system
of measure
status of
1795 France French 5complete
1814 Portugal[Note 1] Portuguese 5complete
1820 Belgium various 5complete
1820 Netherlands Dutch 5complete
1848 Chile Spanish 3almost entirely complete
1852[33] Mexico variants of Spanish 4complete (some national and regional units are still in use and some United States customary units also in use in some industries)
1852 Spain Spanish 5complete
1861 Italy various 5complete
1862[34] Brazil Portuguese 5complete
1862 Peru Spanish 4almost entirely complete
1864 Romania Romanian 5complete
1871 Austria various 5complete
1872[Note 2] Germany various 5complete
1873[35] Serbia various 5complete
1875 Ottoman Empire/Turkey Ottoman 5complete
1875[36] Norway Norwegian 5complete
1876 Sweden Swedish 5complete
1876 Switzerland various 5complete
1876 Hungary various 5complete
1885 Japan[37] Japanese 3almost entirely complete
1886[38] Finland Finnish 5complete
1899 Paraguay Variants of Spanish 5complete
1907 Denmark Danish 5complete
1907 Iceland Icelandic / Danish 5complete
1907 Philippines various 3almost entirely complete
1908 Costa Rica Spanish 5complete
1912 Dominican Republic Spanish 5complete
1918[39][40] Russia Russian 5complete
1923[41][42] Thailand various 3almost entirely complete
1925 China Chinese 3almost entirely complete
1946 Indonesia various 3almost entirely complete
1954 India various 5complete
1954 Sudan various 5complete
1959[43] Greece Old Greek 5complete
1963 Laos unknown 5complete
1963 Vietnam Vietnamese 5complete
1965[Note 3] United Kingdom Imperial 2partially complete
1967 Ireland Imperial[Note 4] 5complete
1967 Pakistan Imperial 5complete
1969 New Zealand Imperial 5complete
1970 Australia Imperial 5complete
1971 South Africa[Note 5] Imperial 5complete
1972 Malaysia Imperial and Malay 2partially complete
1973 Canada Imperial 2partially complete
1975[Note 6][44] United States of America United States customary units 1some adoption[45]
1998 Jamaica Imperial 2partially complete
2005 Saint Lucia Imperial 5complete
indeterminate Liberia[Note 7] Imperial[44] 1some adoption[Note 8][46]
2011[Note 9][47]
Burma (Myanmar) Burmese, Imperial[44] 1some adoption[49]
Announcement of full metrication


  1. ^ Including Portuguese colonies, most of them now independent countries.
  2. ^ Prior to German Unification in 1871, Germany was a collection of independent states. Many German states, particularly those under French tutelage during the Napoleonic Wars (Rheinbund) adopted the metre 1806–15.
  3. ^ Phased transition announced in 1965
  4. ^ Old Irish units of measurement prior to 1807
  5. ^ Including South-West Africa, now Namibia
  6. ^ First adopted in 1866, not enacted until Signing of the Metric Conversion Act in 1975
  7. ^ See also Liberia measurement system.
  8. ^ The Liberian government has begun transitioning from use of imperial units to the metric system. However, this change has been gradual, with government reports concurrently using both systems.
  9. ^ In June 2011, the Burmese government's Ministry of Commerce began discussing proposals to reform the measurement system in Burma and adopt the metric system used by most of its trading partners.

There are three common ways that nations convert from traditional measurement systems to the metric system. The first is the quick, or "Big-Bang" route which was used by India in the 1960s and several other nations including Australia and New Zealand since then. The second way is to phase in units over time and progressively outlaw traditional units. This method, favoured by some industrial nations, is slower and generally less complete. The third way is to redefine traditional units in metric terms. This has been used successfully where traditional units were ill-defined and had regional variations.

The "Big-Bang" way is to simultaneously outlaw the use of pre-metric measurement, metricate, reissue all government publications and laws, and change education systems to metric. India's changeover lasted from 1 April 1960, when metric measurements became legal, to 1 April 1962, when all other systems were banned. The Indian model was extremely successful and was copied over much of the developing world.

The phase-in way is to pass a law permitting the use of metric units in parallel with traditional ones, followed by education of metric units, then progressively ban the use of the older measures. This has generally been a slow route to metric. The British Empire permitted the use of metric measures in 1873, but the changeover was not completed in most Commonwealth countries until the 1970s and 1980s when governments took an active role in metric conversion. Japan also followed this route and did not complete the changeover for 70 years. In the United Kingdom, the process is still incomplete. By law, loose goods sold with reference to units of quantity have to be weighed and sold using the metric system. In 2001 the EU directive 80/181/EEC stated that supplementary units (imperial units alongside metric including labelling on packages) would become illegal from the beginning of 2010. In September 2007[15] a consultation process was started which resulted in the directive being modified to permit supplementary units to be used indefinitely.

The third method is to redefine traditional units in terms of metric values. These redefined "quasi-metric" units often stay in use long after metrication is said to have been completed. Resistance to metrication in post-revolutionary France convinced Napoleon to revert to mesures usuelles (usual measures) and to some extent the names remain throughout Europe. In 1814, Portugal adopted the metric system but with the names of the units substituted by Portuguese traditional ones. In this system the basic units were the mão-travessa (hand) = 1 decimetre (10 mão-travessas = 1 vara (yard) = 1 metre), the canada = 1 liter and the libra (pound) = 1 kilogram.[25] In the Netherlands, 500 g is informally referred to as a pond (pound) and 100 g as an ons (ounce), and in Germany and France 500 g is informally referred to respectively as ein Pfund and une livre ("one pound").[50] In Denmark, the re-defined pund (500 g) is occasionally used, particularly among older people and (older) fruit growers, since these were originally paid according to the number of pounds of fruit produced. In Sweden and Norway a mil (Scandinavian mile) is informally equal to 10 km, and this has continued to be the predominantly used unit in conversation when referring to geographical distances. In the 19th century, Switzerland had a non-metric system completely based on metric terms (e.g. 1 Fuss (foot) = 30 cm, 1 Zoll (inch) = 3 cm, 1 Linie (line) = 3 mm). In China the jin now has a value of 500 g and the liang is 50 g.

It is difficult to judge the degree to which ordinary people change to using metric in their daily lives. In countries that have recently changed, older segments of the population tend to still use the older units. Also, local variations abound in which units are round metric quantities or not. In Canada, for example, ovens and cooking temperatures are usually measured in degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius. Except for in cases of import items all recipes and packaging includes both Celsius and Fahrenheit so Canadians are typically comfortable with both systems of measurement. This extends to manufacturing where companies are able to use both imperial and metric since major export is for the U.S. but metric is required for both domestic and for nearly all other export. This may be due to the overwhelming influence of the neighbouring United States; similarly, still many English Canadians (unlike most French Canadians) often use non-metric measurements in day-to-day discussions of height and weight, and for clothing sizes, which are invariably measured in inches, though most driver's licences and other official government documents record weight and height only in metric (Saskatchewan driver licences, prior to the introduction of the current one-piece licence, indicated height in feet and inches but have switched to centimetres following the new licence format). In Canadian schools though metric is the standard except when it comes up in recipes, where both are included, or in practical lessons involving measuring wood or other materials for manufacturing. In the United Kingdom, Fahrenheit is seldom encountered (except when some people talk about hot summer weather) while other metric units are often used in conjunction with older measurements, and road signs use miles rather than kilometres. Another example is "hard" and "soft" metric. Canada converted liquid dairy products to litres, 500 mL and 250 mL sizes, which caused some complaining at time of conversion, as a litre of milk is slightly over 35 imperial fluid ounces, while the former imperial quart used in Canada was 40 ounces. This is a "hard" metric conversion. Conversely, butter in Canada is sold primarily in a 454 g package, which converts to one Imperial pound. This is considered "soft" metric. Such countries could be said to be "semi-metric". However unlike in the rest of Canada, metrication in the Francophone province of Quebec has been more implemented and metric measures are more consistently used in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada.


As of 2014, in most countries of the world the metric system officially dominates; but traditional units are still used in many places and industries. For example:

  • Automobile tyre pressure is measured as psi in countries such as Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Australia and Chile which are otherwise completely metric.
  • Automotive engine power is usually measured in horsepower (rather than in kilowatts) in Russia, most other ex-USSR countries and German-speaking countries (note that this is typically "metric horsepower" rather than imperial horsepower).
  • In Hong Kong, traditional Chinese and British imperial units are normally used instead of metric units in particular types of trade.
  • Amongst construction workers in Northern Europe, planks and nails are often called by their old inch-based names.
  • The length of small sail boats is often given in feet in popular conversation.
  • Office space is often rented in traditional units, such as square foot in Hong Kong and India, tsubo in Japan or pyeong in Korea.
  • In plumbing the diameters of pipes are still measured in inches in some countries (in the United Kingdom all new pipes are metric); some pipes can be have nominal diameters in inches which are actually measured in millimetres.
  • Automotive wheel diameters are still set as whole inch measurements (although tyre widths are measured in millimetres).
  • Dots per inch and pixels per inch continue to be used in describing graphical resolution in the computer and printing industry.
  • Television and monitor screen diagonals are still commonly cited in inches in many countries; however, in countries such as Australia, France and South Africa, centimetres are often used for television sets, whereas CRT computer monitors and all LCD monitors are measured in inches.
  • Many large format computer printers, commonly known as plotters, have carriage widths measured in inches. Common widths are 24 in (610 mm), 36 in (910 mm), 44 in (1,100 mm) and 60 in (1,500 mm). While metric media sizes are often quoted (e.g. A0, A1), rolls of film, plain paper or photographic paper are normally sold in these widths, giving rise to wastage when they are trimmed. Rolls lengths are variously quoted in feet or metres.
  • In the electronic industry, the dominant spacing for components is based on intervals of 110 in (2.54 mm), and a change would lead to compatibility issues, e.g., for connectors.
  • Within the mechanical industry, inch based spare parts can occasionally be kept, e.g., to service American or pre-World War II machines, but at maintenance, screws may be exchanged to metric thread.
  • In Ireland, the only legal exception to the metrication process was the pint in bars, pubs, and clubs; although alcohol sold in any other location is in metric units (usually 330 ml (bottled beer), 500 ml (canned beer), 750 ml (wine), or 1 L or 700 ml (spirits)). In practice Metrication in Ireland is not entirely complete in other areas as well.
  • In Australia, a pint of beer was redefined to 570 ml (see Australian beer glasses).
  • In both metric and non-metric countries, racing bicycle frames are generally measured in centimetres, while mountain bicycle and other frames are measured in either or both.
  • In Spain and former colonies i.e. Americas and Philippines certain pre-metric units are still used, e.g., the quiñón for land measurement in the Philippines, the fanega, ferrado and atahúlla to name three used in Spain and other former possessions.
    • The pulgada (inch) is 23 mm, 2 mm shorter than the English inch.
  • In many long-time metric countries, when non-metric units are used, it is often to give rough estimates in a short form, while accurate measures always are metric, e.g., "6 feet" may feel less exact and shorter to say than "1,8 metres" or "180 cm". Measurement tools for inches are generally rare to find there, only on the other side of some carpenter's rulers, and may present a variation between national legacy inches and British/US inches, easily causing significant measurement errors if used.
  • The Imperial gallon is used as a unit of measure for fuel in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Burma, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines.[51]
  • The U.S. gallon is used in the Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Peru, Turks and Caicos Islands and the USA, especially for pricing.[51]
  • In Latin America, as SI units are standard, litres are used as well, e.g., often regarding fuel economy (km per liter), and the Spanish word galón may occasionally refer to a portable fuel container, often 5-20 L.
  • Road distances and speed limits are still displayed in miles and miles per hour respectively in the USA, UK, Burma and various Caribbean nations.[52]

In some countries (such as Antigua, see above), the transition is still in progress. The Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia announced metrication programmes in 2005 to be compatible with CARICOM.[53]

United Kingdom

Examples of official metrication of British grocery products. Two of the four items are purely metric. Milk is often sold as "1.136 litres / 2 pints". The sausages are labelled "340 g / 12 oz"

In the United Kingdom some of the population continue to resist metrication to varying degrees. The traditional imperial measures are preferred by a majority and continue to have widespread use in some applications.[54][55] The metric system is used by most businesses[56] and is used for most trade transactions. Metric units must be used for certain trading activities (selling by weight or measure for example) although imperial units may continue to be displayed in parallel.[57]

British law has enacted the provisions of European Union directive 80/181/EEC which catalogues the units of measure that may be used for "economic, public health, public safety and administrative purposes".[58] These units consist of the recommendations of the General Conference on Weights and Measures[59] supplemented by some additional units of measure that may be used for specified purposes.[60] Metric units could be legally used for trading purposes for nearly a century before metrication efforts began in earnest. The government had been making preparations for the conversion of the Imperial unit since the 1862 Select Committee on Weights and Measures recommended the conversion[61] and the Weights and Measures Act of 1864 and the Weights and Measures (Metric System) Act of 1896 legalised the metric system.[62] In 1965, with lobbying from British industries and the prospects of joining the Common Market, the government set a 10-year target for full conversion and created the Metrication Board in 1969. Metrication did occur in some areas during this time period, including the re-surveying of Ordnance Survey maps in 1970, decimalisation of the currency in 1971, and teaching the metric system in schools. No plans were made to make the use of the metric system compulsory, and the Metrication Board was abolished in 1980 following a change in government.[63]

The United Kingdom avoided having to comply with the 1989 European Units of Measurement Directive (89/617/EEC), which required all member states to make the metric system compulsory, by negotiating derogations (delayed switchovers), including for miles on road signs and for pints for draught beer, cider, and milk sales.[64]

In popular conversation, the stone unit is still used for body weight and feet and inches are used to describe height.

United States and Canada

A measuring cup, manufactured and sold in the U.S. (circa 1980) features graduations in both metric and U.S. Customary systems. Held in the right hand, a person would have the metric graduations in front, facing them. But in filling the measuring cup from another container, right-handed people would hold it in their left hand, and read from the customary gradations.

Over time, the metric system has influenced the United States through international trade and standardization. The use of the metric system was made legal as a system of measurement in 1866[65] and the United States was a founding member of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in 1875.[66] The system was officially adopted by the federal government in 1975 for use in the military and government agencies, and as preferred system for trade and commerce.[67] It has remained voluntary for federal and state road signage to use metric units, despite attempts in the 1990s to make it a requirement.[68]

A 1992 amendment to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), which took effect in 1994, required labels on federally regulated "consumer commodities"[69] to include both metric and U.S. customary units. As of 2013, all but one US state (New York) have passed laws permitting metric-only labels for the products they regulate.[70] Likewise, Canada also legally allows for dual labelling of goods provided that the metric unit is listed first and that there is a distinction of whether a liquid measure is a U.S. or a Canadian (Imperial) unit.[71]

Today, the American public and much of the private business and industry still use U.S. customary units despite many years of informal or optional metrication.[72] At least two states, Kentucky and California, have even moved towards demetrication of highway construction projects.[73][74][75]

Air and sea transportation

Air and sea transportation commonly use the nautical mile. This is about one minute of arc of latitude along any meridian arc and it is precisely defined as 1852 metres (about 1.151 statute miles). It is not an SI unit (although it is accepted for use in the SI by the BIPM). The prime unit of speed or velocity for maritime and air navigation remains the knot (nautical mile per hour).

The prime unit of measure for aviation (altitude, or International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) relating to measurement are:

  • there should be a single system of units throughout the world
  • the single system should be the SI
  • the use of the foot for altitude is a permitted variation.

Consistent with ICAO policy, aviation has undergone a significant amount of metrication over the years. For example, runway lengths are usually given in metres. The United States metricated the data interchange format (METAR) for temperature reports in 1996.[76] Metrication is also gradually taking place in cargo weights and dimensions and in fuel volumes and weights.

Accidents and incidents

Confusion over units during the process of metrication can sometimes lead to accidents. One of the most notable examples was during metrication in Canada. In 1983, an Air Canada Boeing 767, nicknamed the "Gimli Glider" following the incident, ran out of fuel in midflight. The incident was caused, in a large part, by the confusion over the conversion between litres, kilograms, and pounds, resulting in the aircraft receiving 22,300 pounds of fuel instead of the required 22,300 kg.[77]

During the reconstruction of Ypres after World War I, British Army engineers drew up the plans for rebuilding a bombed house in feet. However, the Belgian builders interpreted the numbers in metres. As a result the house had enormous doors and windows. It still exists today.

While not strictly an example of national metrication, the use of two different systems was a contributing factor in the loss of the Lockheed Martin, provided thruster performance data to the team in pound force-seconds instead of newton-seconds. The spacecraft was intended to orbit Mars at about 150 kilometres (93 mi) in altitude, but the incorrect data meant that it descended to about 57 kilometres (35 mi). It probably burned up in the Martian atmosphere.[78]

On September 25, 2009, the British Department for Transport published a draft version of legislation to amend its road signs legislation[79] for comment. Among the proposed changes is an amendment to existing legislation to make dual-unit height and width warning and restriction signs mandatory. This is justified in Paragraph 53 of the Impact Analysis[80] by the text "... Based on records from Network Rail's incident logs since April 2008, approximately 10 to 12 percent of bridge strikes involved foreign lorries. This is disproportionately high in terms of the number of foreign lorries on the road network." This proposal was shelved with the change of government in 2010, though many bridges are now signed both ways.

See also


  1. ^ "Maintenance Required Indicator" (PDF). Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Metrication".  
  3. ^ "Appendix G – Weights and Measures".  
  4. ^ a b Kelly, Jon (21 December 2011). "Will British people ever think in metric?". BBC. 
  5. ^ Alder, Ken (2002). The Measure of all Things—The Seven-Year-Odyssey that Transformed the World. London: Abacus.
  6. ^ "Myanmar to adopt metric system". Eleven Media Group. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "Metric usage and metrication in other countries".  
  8. ^ "Introduction of the metric system and the prices of petroleum products". Washington DC, United States: Sierra Leone Embassy. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 
  9. ^ "Metric Act of 1866". Metric Program, Weights and Measures Division, United States National Institute of Standards, Technology and Technology. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
    "U.S. Metric System (SI) Legal Resources". Metric Program, Weights and Measures Division, United States National Institute of Standards, Technology and Technology. Retrieved 11 November 2009. 
  10. ^ Howard B. Bradley, ed. (1987). Petroleum Engineering Handbook. pp. 1–69.  
  11. ^ "Department for Transport statement on metric road signs".  
  12. ^  
  13. ^ "Finance minister outlines metrication plans, goals and timetable". Antigua Observer. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "St Lucia begins drive to implement metric system to catch up with region". The Jamaica Observer. Associated Press. 2005. Archived from the original on 18 October 2007. Retrieved 5 November 2007. 
  15. ^ a b c "EU gives up on 'metric Britain". BBC News. 11 September 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  16. ^ "Ireland goes metric - fast". The Independent. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "Metric Moon".  
  18. ^ Thomas McGreevy, Peter Cunningham (1995). The Basis of Measurement: Historical Aspects.  
  19. ^ Witold Kula (1986). "For all peoples; for all time". Measures and Men. Richard Szreter (trans.).  
  20. ^  .
  21. ^ Reproduction (33 MB): 
  22. ^ "An ESSAY Towards a REAL CHARACTER, And a PHILOSOPHICAL LANGUAGE" (PDF). Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  23. ^  .
  24. ^ Jefferson, Thomas (4 July 1790). "Plan for Establishing Uniformity in the Coinage, Weights, and Measures of the United States Communicated to the House of Representatives, July 13, 1790". New York. 
  25. ^ a b Fátima Paixão; Fátima Regina Jorge (2006). "Success and constraints in adoption of the metric system in Portugal" (PDF). The Global and the Local: History of Science and the Cultural Integration of Europe. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  26. ^ Andreas Dreizler et al (20 April 2009). "Metrologie" (in German). Technische Universität Darmstaft. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  27. ^ W Leconte Stephens (March 1904). "The Metric System – Shall it be compulsory?". Popular Science Monthly: 394–405. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  28. ^ Giblin, R. W. (2008) [1908]. "Royal Survey Work.". In Wright, Arnold; Breakspear, Oliver T. Twentieth century impressions of Siam (65.3 MB). London&c: Lloyds Greater Britain Publishing Company. p. 126. Retrieved 28 January 2012. It so happens that 40 metres or 4,000 centimetres are equal to one sen, which is the  
  29. ^ AD Dunn (1969). "Notes on the standardization of paper sizes". Ottawa. p. 11. 
  30. ^ Page, Chester H; Vigoureux, Paul, eds. (20 May 1975). The International Bureau of Weights and Measures 1875 - 1975: NBS Special Publication 420.  
  31. ^ Zupko, Ronald Edward (1990). Revolution in Measurement – Western European Weights and Measures Since the Age of Science. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society 186. pp. 242–245.  
  32. ^ the English System of Weights and Measures versus The Metric. National Industrial Confernce Board. October 1921. pp. 12–13. Research Report Number 42. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  33. ^ "Metrication in Mexico". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  34. ^ "Histórico do Inmetro". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  35. ^ "History".  
  36. ^ "Kapittel 4 : Internasjonale avtaler" (PDF). Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  37. ^ Treaties and conventions between the empire of Japan and other powers, p. 311, Gaimusho
  38. ^ "Metric usage and metrication in other countries". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  39. ^  
  40. ^ ]Desk Soviet CalendarНастольный Советский Календарь [ (in Russian). The New International Publishing, New York. 1920. p. 8. 
  41. ^ "History of weights and measures in Thailand.htm". Northern Weights and Measures Center (Thailand). April 2004. Retrieved 26 September 2011. ..."Weights and Measures Act,  
  42. ^ ประวัติชั่งตวงวัดไทย (in Thai). Northern Weights and Measures Center (Thailand). April 2004. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  43. ^ΤΟΜΟΣ%205.doc
  44. ^ a b c "CIA The World Factbook". Appendix G: Weights and Measures. US Central Intelligence Agency. 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  45. ^ "FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about the metric system:".  
  46. ^ Dr. Michael D. Wilcox, Jr. Department of Agricultural Economics University of Tennessee (2008). "Reforming Cocoa and Coffee Marketing in Liberia". Presentation and Policy Brief. University of Tennessee. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  47. ^ Ko Ko Gyi (18–24 July 2011). "Ditch the viss, govt urges traders". The Myanmar Times. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  48. ^ "Myanmar to adopt metric system".  
  49. ^ Htar Htar Khin (20 February 2012). "Workshop to mull new weight and measurement standards". The Myanmar Times. Archived from the original on 19 March 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  50. ^ Hubert Fontaine. "Confiture de rhubarbe" (in Français). Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 5 November 2007.  "1 zeste de citron par livre (500g) de rhubarbe"
  51. ^ a b Gasoline and diesel usage and pricing
  52. ^ ChartsBin. "Road Distance and Speed Units by Country". ChartsBin. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  53. ^ "St Lucia moving to metric system". Caribbean Net News. 2005. Retrieved 27 August 2006. 
  54. ^ Jon Kelly (21 December 2011). "Will British people ever think in metric?". News Magazine (The BBC). Retrieved 24 February 2012. ...but today the British remain unique in Europe by holding onto imperial weights and measures. ...the persistent British preference for imperial over metric is particularly noteworthy... 
  55. ^ Melanie McDonagh (10 May 2007). "In the merry old land of lb and oz". The Times. A survey from the British Weights and Measures Association, admittedly a partial source, suggested that 80 per cent of people prefer imperial to metric and 70 per cent, including, remarkably, 18–24 year olds, can make sense of weights only in imperial measurements. 
  56. ^ "Final Report of the Metrication Board (1980)". London: Department of Trade and Industry Consumer and Competition Policy Directorate. para 1.6 & 1.10. 
  57. ^ "Weights and measures legislation – hallmarking and metrication". Business Link. UK Government. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  58. ^ "Weights and Measures Report 1995 – 2008" (PDF). National Weights and Measures Laboratory. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  59. ^  
  60. ^ The Council of the European Communities (9 February 2000). "Council Directive 80/181/EEC of 20 December 1979 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to Unit of measurement and on the repeal of Directive 71/354/EEC". Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  61. ^ "Report (1862) from the Select Committee on Weights and Measures" (PDF). Department of Trade and Industry, United Kingdom. 1862. Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  62. ^ "Metrication Timeline".  
  63. ^ Jim Humble. "Historical perspectives by the last Director of the UK Metrication Board".  
  64. ^ The Units of Measurement Regulations 1995. Statutory Instrument 1995 No. 1804 (United Kingdom). 1995.  
  65. ^ "Metric Act of 1866". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  66. ^ "Metric Convention of 1875". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  67. ^ "Metric Conversion Act of 1975". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  68. ^ "National Highway System Designation Act of 1995". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  69. ^ "Fair Packaging and Labeling Act". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  70. ^ "US Metric Association (USMA)". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  71. ^ Chapter 2 – Basic Labelling Requirements. Canadian Food Inspection Agency. pp. (also available in French). Retrieved 16 May 2007. 
  72. ^ "Waits and Measures". Mother Jones. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  73. ^ [1]
  74. ^ "Metric to US Customary Units (British) Transition" (PDF). Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  75. ^ Richard D. Land, Chief Engineer (16 June 2006). Declaration of Units of Measure – "Metric" or "English" Project (PDF). State of California, Department of Transportation. Retrieved 5 November 2007. 
  76. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about METAR/SPECI and TAF". National Weather Service METAR/TAF Information. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  77. ^ Merran Williams (July–August 2003). The 156-tonne GIMLI GLIDER (PDF). Flight Safety Australia. pp. 22, 25. Retrieved 5 November 2007. 
  78. ^ "NASA's metric confusion caused Mars orbiter loss". CNN. 30 September 1999. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  79. ^ "The Traffic Signs (Amendment) Regulations and General Directions 2010 (Draft)". Department for Transport. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 
  80. ^ "Impact Assessment of the Traffic Signs (Amendment) Regulations and General Directions 2010 and of the Traffic Signs (Temporary Obstructions) (Amendment) Regulations 2010.". Department for Transport. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 

External links

  • Online Metric Conversion Application
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.