2014 Will Be the Metric System Turnaround Year in the United States

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Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

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This week’s post

While I feel I’ve made some real progress toward the background for the documentary, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. While I already have quite a few people and organizations lined up for interviews, there’s still fundraising (and everything that goes along with that), putting together promos with no budget other than what I can currently take away from my living expenses, technical considerations of equipment and software and a whole host of challenges including keeping up my full-time job as a writer/project managers for a national science laboratory. (There are no problems, only challenges, mind you.)

Progress is being made

In January of 2013 there were 431 visitors to this blog and last month (December) there were 2,952. That’s quite an increase, and for that, dear reader, I’m deeply appreciative of your scarce time and attention on what I consider an important and mostly overlooked topic.

However, singing to the converted is only going to get us so far. 2014 is going to need to be the year we both start to break through and media noise and get some real traction attached to this issue along with its implications for our future generations with regard to math, science and medicine. It’s not too late despite our very checkered past. It dates back to Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams and, in part, helps make the whole story so dang interesting.

Let this become your mantra: We only have to solve the metric system problem once.

And it is solvable. How many other things can you say that about? Not education. Not healthcare. Not any variety of social reforms. But metric system adoption in this country, yes. And we really do need to treat it as a project and ensure that the structure put in place to carry it out is dismantled when it is time…but not before.

While others around the country are beginning to catch on through major media (Discovery News, Scientific American and the Smithsonian this past year) there’s still work I need to do, which will be quite laborious on my end, along with the need to engage with relevant people and organizations.

The folks on reddit.com (and the reddit metric subpages) are already on board and they’ve driven a considerable amount of traffic to my site, including almost 2,000 hits in two days because someone posited the question “What’s something from another country you would like to see happen in your country?” It generated quite a bit of conversation on the the topic.

These bursts of interest give me hope that I’m on the right path and I’m happy to say I have a number of people who are helping me along. I’ll continue to rely on their support moving forward. I’m grateful to them everyday.

And remember that each and every one of you is making a difference as well. Allow me to press into service an old adage:

Many hands make light work.

I sure hope so. In fact, I’m counting on it.

My very best wishes during the coming year,


America Needs Movement Toward the Metric System and You Can Help

October 6, 2013 begins Nation Metric Week as recognized by the Nation Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (Yes, an organization of math teachers thinks we should be metric. And they have good reason to do so.)

Just note the convoluted relationships between our current system versus metric units (abbreviated SI from French: Le Système international d’unités to the rest of the world) per factfeed.me.

We use convoluted measures that were not designed to interrelate to each other, unlike the metric system..

We use convoluted measures that were not designed to interrelate to each other, unlike the metric system.

How can people continue to think our U.S. customary units are a good idea? Of course, we don’t actually use imperial units in this country as the graphic might imply. Sure, we brought them over with us but  then futzed with them so in total  they no longer perfectly align with any other country in the world.

reddit’s helps spur interest in our lack of metric adoption

Peter, a friend of the project, recently became moderator of the metric board on reddit.

For those of you not familiar with reddit, it defines itself (in its FAQs) as:

reddit is a source for what’s new and popular on the web.

Users like you provide all of the content and decide, through voting, what’s good and what’s junk.

Links that receive community approval bubble up towards #1, so the front page is constantly in motion and (hopefully) filled with fresh, interesting links.

The readers of reddit are a wonderful source of interest in my blog and project (though people actively searching in Google for answers about the U.S.’s lack of metric adoption outstrip everything else).

Not too long ago, he posted a piece about our need to talk metrication outside of the site and made some very concrete suggestions. The intro goes as follows:

If America is to complete its transition to the metric system we need to convince people that it is to their advantage (or to their children’s).

To do this we will need to do more than give upvotes to posts we like on Reddit. We need to reach out to the general public and show them that the metric system makes sense, and that America should adopt it for domestic use in the same way that it has been adopted by science, the medical industry, a lot of manufacturing industry, the armed forces, international athletics and almost every other country around the world.

I was pleasantly surprised two weeks ago when Redditors read a post I had made about a writer criticising the metric system, followed the link and posted comments on his blog. This is the sort of thing we need to do to improve the mostly negative image it as among the general community.

What follows is a proposed list of actions people can follow to help move metrication in the U.S. forward (I’ll admit upfront that my project is mentioned in his list).

Additional comments (110 as of this writing) yield even more ideas and perspectives. Take a look.

Let’s expand reddit’s reach when it comes to metrication

Currently, about six percent of online adults are reddit users according to a recent Pew Research Center study, and most of them are young males.

Current reddit users

Current reddit users per the Pew Research Center

Of course, it doesn’t have to stay that way and you can join in the conversation regardless of your age, sex or other demographic background. Let’s get the discussion of our lack of metric adoption back on the table after a pitiful 30-year absence.

As the saying goes, “many hands make light work” and it will take a grassroots effort for politicians and media to get interested in this topic. It also needs to be a national effort but that doesn’t mean we can’t start with our own local representatives.

Awareness of the issue is the first step

Let’s not continue to handicap our children and future generations by a system that really isn’t a “system” at all but a collection of antiquated measures that trip up our children and anyone from another country who happen to set foot on our soil.

Enjoy National Metric Week with someone you can measure!


Metric Resources (A World to Share)

In the half year that I’ve been working on this project, it has been my pleasure to come in contact with a number of metric like-minded folks who have been moving in this direction far longer than I. I’d like to take this opportunity to share their sites with you in case you find them of interest. (I sure hope so or else why are you reading this thing?)

National Institute for Standards and Technology—U.S. Department of Commerce
There is tons of information on the main website at http://www.nist.gov/index.html, If you want to drill down to the metric system resources, they’re under the Physical Measurement Laboratory (http://www.nist.gov/pml/wmd/index.cfm) and then you get down to the resources for the metric system: http://www.nist.gov/pml/wmd/metric/metric-program.cfm.

U.S. Metric Association
There is a phenomenal amount of information on this organization’s pages and it’s been around since 1916. (I love people who don’t give up the good fight.) It was the extremely sad litany of information on this page (http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/dates.htm) that led me to embark on my current quest. Feel free to look around and join the organization. I’m sure they’d love for you to sign on as a member and it’s only $30 a year (see page for multi-year discounts) to help along its fine work. http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/.

The Reddit Metric Pages
Reddit, which refers to itself as “The frontpage of the Internet,” has its own metric posting pages. The metric section already has more than 5,000 members and it’s free to join in: http://www.reddit.com/r/metric. There are also now subpages devoted to metric cooking: http://www.reddit.com/r/MetricCooking. Come on in and look around. You might decide to stay for awhile.

The Metric Maven
The Maven has spent considerable thought on metric issues and shares his insights on his blog, which he adds to on a regular basis. Yes, we cross promote because we’re both heading in the same direction. Just makes sense to me. Go to http://themetricmaven.com/ to read more.

Metric Pioneer
Another advocate, this site describes itself as “MetricPioneer.com is dedicated to United States President Andrew Johnson and to Metric Pioneer Antoine Lavoisier (1743–1794 CE) Father of Modern Chemistry, who helps construct the metric system during the French Revolution while working alongside Benjamin Franklin in France.” Metric products are for sale here. As far as I know, he’s currently got this market cornered. Check it out: http://metricpioneer.com/.

M Power
One of the first people to reach out to me, the lady behind this site states: “Our goal is to empower K-12 students to succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Military (STEMM) by preparing them to think in STEMM’s occupational language.” Find out more at http://www.helpmpower.org/. Another nonprofit organization, help out if you can.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
While this might seem like a niche organization, these are the folks are the keepers of National Metric Week (the week in which November 10 falls [as in 10/10]). Its mission: “The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is the public voice of mathematics education, supporting teachers to ensure equitable mathematics learning of the highest quality for all students through vision, leadership, professional development, and research.” More at http://www.nctm.org/.

U.K. Metric Association
This organization has been supportive of my efforts from early on. While the U.K. is mostly metric, it’s not all the way there and we’re holding them back. Let’s stop that. For more information, go to http://ukma.org.uk/.

National Measurement Institute
I have it on good authority that Australia has embraced the metric system and Imperial units are difficult (if not impossible) to find—which is a sign of real success. This is a country we may want to emulate when our time comes. For more information, go to http://www.measurement.gov.au/.

I know less about these folks, but they’re out there so let’s cheer them on:

Go Metric USA
Its pages state: “GO metricUSATM is an organization dedicating to promoting the adoption of the metric system in the United States of America and to help industries cut costs.” http://www.gometricusa.org/default.html.

Go Metric America
Don’t know much about this either, but it follows me on Twitter and frequently retweets me. Its Facebook page states that its cause is to “Educate, promote and encourage daily usage of the Metric System. Make SI the only measurement standard of science, math, industry, trade, and education in the USA.” Here is its link on Twitter https://twitter.com/GoMetricAmerica and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/GoMetricAmerica.

Metricate America (Metric8America)
Don’t see a website for this one, but the Twitter page is https://twitter.com/Metric8America.

If I’ve missed you, I apologize. Let me know. Relevant ones can always go into another blog on the subject.