Under the Hill

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Posts Tagged ‘intercultural communication

xkcd’s Guide to the Metric System

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Guide to Converting to Metric

xkcd today has a wonderful table of reference points in the units of the metric system. Having experienced the Americans living with me for a while, stumbling around in an environment which used the system showed me that something like that actually can be useful. And be it only for the sake of intercultural communication. After all (as obviously has to be pointed out) the USA is one of only three nations in the world which doesn’t use the metric system. And, all the humbug about how it is so much more complicated than the imperial system aside, about 5.7 Billion people use it every day without any problems. So it can’t be that complicated.

I don’t want to say: “come on, switch to metric now!”, because I like the idea of a nation clinging to a horribly outdated traditional system for no other reason than it’s history and their comfort with it (also I noticed that some Americans can get rather upset when confronted with the idea of converting), but at least this table might help understand the metric system a bit better. As is pointed out on the table, it is more important to make up new reference points for a new system than just convert it to the metrics one is used to.

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Written by G. Neuner

5. January 2009 at 3:22 pm