As well as myself, another staunch supporter of metric system adoption in the United States is Randy Bancroft, who writes a blog as “The Metric Maven.” He has a new book available called The Dimensions of the Cosmos: Tales From Sixteen Metric Worlds. It sells through Amazon for $19.95.
In the preface, the author states his intent as:
This books exists to address a problem most people don’t recognize: understanding the magnitudes of the world around us. This problem is almost invisible in countries which have used the metric system from the earliest days of its earliest days of inception. (p. iii)
He then goes on to point out that our lack of metric system adoption has left us with a mishmash (my word) of measures that make it difficult to gauge their comparative sizes between one unit and another. I couldn’t agree more.
The book itself includes a section on the metric system, and it includes references to both microscopes (and really small things) and astronomy (and really, really large things) and talks about the units themselves before starting to break down the relative sizes of the measures.
They run from the section Uniworld:
Uniworld is where we define the size of the metric units which are used as a basis. These basic units will be magnified or reduced to describe the Cosmos. (p.22)
Protons and neutrons, which make up the nuclei of atoms, are near one yoctogram in mass. (p.177)
He covers the metric units in all their various sizes.
For instance, in Uniworld, he points out that the section:
…is about the world from 1 meter to 1000 meters but by using human dimensions as a lower end reference, we end up comparing values which are often less than one meter for context. (p.23)
He also includes a number of examples to try to help the reader grasp the various units such as:
The largest known meteorite is the Hoba meteorite in Nambia [sic] in southwestern Africa…The meteorite remains where it fell because of its large mass, 60 Megagrams. (p. 57)
The Baobab tree stores up to 100 Kiloliters of water in its trunk, which it uses to survive droughts. The volume of water stored is about four times the displacement of the diesel engine. (p. 57)
Ultimately, I’m not sure how helpful some of these references are since I doubt many people can immediately imagine what a Baobab tree looks like so the liter citation has a context.
He also uses the opportunity of the book to make a case for working only in millimeters.
The reason for this retreat from centimeters, is that for most practical everyday purposes, millimeters allow people to use integers without the need for any decimal arithmetic. (p.13)
Throughout the book he also begins “larger” metric units with uppercase letters and “smaller” units begin with lowercase letters (see image). The only problem with that is IT IS NOT the current naming convention. I worry that readers less familiar with the metric system might be misled into thinking that his use is accepted but it is not. I’d hate for anyone to get led down the wrong path unknowingly.
In any case, if you have any interest in the subject matter, I encourage you to purchase the book in an effort to support another person who has devoted considerable time helping our country figure out the error of our ways.