Thursday, October 16, 2014


Living in Europe has required me to embrace the Metric system.  It really does make much more sense than the Imperial system we use back in America.  It's hard to believe that the USA is the only major industrial country that doesn't use metric.  I've done pretty well with temperature but length and distance is what has taken a while to sink in.

The basic unit of measure is a meter.   The original definition of a meter was 1 ten millionth of the distance between the North Pole and the Equator through Paris. 

A meter is 3 feet, 338 inches.

For length you pretty much use centimeters and meters.  One centimeter is about the width of a fingernail.  For comparison, 1 inch equals 2.54 cm.

Height is measured in meters.  Most adults are between 1.5 and 2 meters tall.  For comparison, 1 foot equals 30 cm.

Distance is measured in kilometers.  1 mile equals 1.6 km.  My reference point has been that a 5 km race is 3.2 miles.  Speed is measured in km/h (kilometers per hour) instead of miles per hour. 

The United Kingdom uses a mix of metric and imperial measurements.  Distance in the UK is in miles.  You can tell when you cross between Ireland and Northern Ireland because the road signs change from kilometers to miles.

One thing that, now I realize, never made sense is how to break down miles.  You could say quarter mile or half mile but that's about it.  No one ever knows that 1 mile equals 1,760 yards or 5,280 feet.  Whereas 1 km equals 1,000 meters which does make sense.  Another reference point I used was that 1 km takes about 15 minutes to walk.

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