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Changes in scale


Image by the School of Earth and Environment, Leeds

Putting one foot in front of the other, hillwalkers are still bagging Munros, hills over 3,000 feet, or not, as the case may be. Sir Hugh Munro produced his first list of peaks over 3,000 feet in 1891. More exact measurements have reduced some of his Munros to Corbetts. The Scotsman tell us that the GPS system that is being used measures within 30mm of accuracy, but this degree of accuracy is not usually necessary, even in the case of the Foinaven which was found to be 2,988 feet high, and 12 feet short of being a fabled Munro. There are plenty of other real life examples of the usefulness of Imperial measures, or plain old inches and feet.

The American physicist who writes at The Ten O' Clock Scholar comments,

I remember being schooled in the 1970s, when metric was portrayed as the inevitable system, and there was a big push to "convert." I always wondered why. What was the angle? I was suspicious of the whole project and saw no point to it; it didn't seem particularly "easier" to me to use.

Indeed, the units were very unfriendly; not very "people-sized." Factors of ten are changes in scale just too big to be convenient. It's very nice to be able to cut things in halves, and in halves again, as with, for example quarts, pints, and cups.

Twelves are also nice, as in 12 inches to a foot, because dozens can be halved, thirded, or quartered all into round integer amounts. . .

Changes in scale just too big to be convenient. Sounds like a motto for the EU, doesn't it?