Tag Archive | Science

Metric System Usage

Monday Map
Countries That Do Not Use The Metric System

 January 13, 2014

Countries That Do Not Use The Metric System

Source: Wikimedia Commons

As a proud American, I join with my countrymen as I dig my heels in, fold my arms and say, “Nope. I am not budging one inch.”

Okay, while I might budge an inch in some instances, I will certainly not budge a centimeter. I do not even know what a centimeter is. I mean, I know it is a unit of measurement and that 10 of them is a decimeter and that 100 of them is a meter (or a metre, as those perplexing foreigners insist on putting it.) But how long is that? Don’t ask me; I am an American.

I can instantly project my thought out exactly one mile. I can picture the distance and multiply it so that I have confidence in just how far away from my present position is a point 3 miles off, or 5 miles.

I haven’t played football in maybe 20 years, more like 35 years when it comes to suiting up in pads. But if it were Second Down and 4 yards to go, I know exactly where I would have to make the cut on my passing route, to catch the ball beyond the First Down marker.

But how long is 4 meters? I have not a clue.

I have always taken quiet satisfaction that a kilometer was not quite as long as, and therefore wimpier than a good old mile. So I am a bit miffed when reminded that a meter is actually longer than a yard. The very idea!

But it is okay; this time next week I will no longer remember that.

Why would I? Like all right-thinking people, such as we Americans, along with Liberians and those staunch defenders of traditional values living in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, no effort to brainwash us with logical Base 10 measurements can penetrate, let alone sink in. None of this newfangled metric nonsense for us. No sirree bob.

The metric system got its start in the French Revolution, that mob of malcontents who were inspired by long-haired radicals with names like George Washington, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. Apparently the French had been using all sorts of measurement systems, many not all that easy to translate into others. So in 1799 these proto-terrorists scrapped the whole shebang and forced their single system on the people. The English, on the other hand, already had one set of measurements for the entire realm, which for some reason is perfectly all right. And the English handed that system down to us, their more highly evolved cousins, before it was too late.

Unlike the ludicrous metric system, where the meter is a Base 10 fraction of the circumference of the earth, and the liter is based upon the weight of water at its melting point, and with centigrade temperatures based on the freezing and boiling points of water, our superior system is based on things that actually make sense.

The mile, as everyone knows, is 8 furlongs in length, a furlong being 1/24 of a league. A furlong, sensibly enough, is the length of one furrow of ploughed earth in a typical English field, or 40 rods. The fact no one could quite agree on the length of a rod, let alone the cupids making up a rod, or that such fields might vary from place to place is beside the point.

And when it comes to temperature, in 1724 Mr. Fahrenheit stuck a mercury thermometer into some icy saltwater and decided that was 0 and then he stuck one into a human armpit and decided that was 96, which was later refined to 98.6. See? Isn’t that so much better than having water freeze at 0 and boil at 100?

The metric system was officially recognized for use in the USA in 1866. It was refined and revised for the international community in 1960. Concerted efforts were made in the 1970s to indoctrinate the youth of America so that they would be ready for full conversion by the turn of the century. And while various Poindexters may have picked up some metric-savvy skills in Science class, the conversion rate of us true Americans has come nowhere near estimates.

Not by a mile.

And that is one man’s word on…

Countries That Do Not Use The Metric System

Monday Map is a new series at One Man’s World, where we will post interesting maps showing various aspects of our world, and the trends, distributions, and the past, present and future of everything in it.

Hubble Unveils Pandora’s Blue Galaxies

Hubble image of Pandora's clust Abell 2744

Hubble Space Telescope (HST) peered through the veil of  Pandora’s Cluster and discovered a provocative sight.

So named because it is thought to have formed from a violent colliding of several galaxy clusters, Pandora’s Cluster is officially named Abell 2744. The scientists with their eye on Hubble’s peep hole used the cluster’s immense gravitational effects as a lens to magnify far deeper, older galaxies hiding behind it.

Each point of light in the image is an entire galaxy, containing many billions of stars. Those in the background have never before been detected. Because light travels at 700 million miles an hour, the farther away the galaxy the farther back in time we see it.

Found lurking behind Pandora’s cluster were 3,000 of the earliest galaxies yet discovered, many of which appear in the image as blue arcs and blobs. At least four of these new galaxies are seen as they were 13.5 billion years ago, a mere 500 million years after the Big Bang that gave rise to our current universe. And all of this, in one small patch of the night sky that appears blank to the human eye.

In a paper made available through the Cornell University Library, a team led by astrophysicists Hakim Atek and Johan Richard presented the findings from their deep field observations of galaxy cluster Abell 2744 combining newly acquired near-infra red data with optical images taken from the NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and those acquired though the Spitzer Space Telescope, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, at the California Institute of Technology.

According to the paper, which can be read HERE, “The Hubble Frontier Fields (HFF) program combines the capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope with the gravitational lensing of massive galaxy clusters to probe the distant Universe to an unprecedented depth.” This is only the first attempt at this new method of peering into the secrets of the early Cosmos, and is basically a test run. “Although based on a shallower observations than what will be achieved in the final dataset” this first attempt to combine the multiple observations of Abell 2744 have provided results “generally in agreement with the most recent blank field estimates, confirming the feasibility of surveys through lensing clusters.”

Among the many new discoveries within the initial findings include the fact that many of these early galaxies are considerably brighter than they expected, up to 20 times more luminous than predicted. “There are strange things happening… we’re suddenly seeing luminous, massive galaxies quickly build up at such an early time… They were much larger than we expected to find. Only 1% of our Milky Way. But that is a big galaxy for that early era,” said Dr. Garth Illingworth from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

The image at the top of this post is the first to come from Hubble’s Frontier Fields observing programme, which is using the magnifying power of enormous galaxy clusters to peer deep into the distant Universe. According to NASA,  Abell 2744 is but the first of six targets that the Hubble’s Frontier Fields observing programme will focus on. “This three-year, 840-orbit programme will yield our deepest views of the Universe to date, using the power of Hubble to explore more distant regions of space than could otherwise be seen, by observing gravitational lensing effects around six different galaxy clusters.”

Hubble space telescope view of Pandora's ClusterAbell 2744 combining viable light, X-rays, and artist enhanced dark matter


NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, official site

Scientific American

BBC Story

Washington Post