Re: k vs K

Subject: Re: k vs K
From: rjl -at- BOSTECH -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 09:44:29 EST

David Dubin said

>Most of the rest of the world and the American military will tell you
>that K stands for Kilo..., which of course, stands for SINGLE THOUSANDS
>in the metric system.

And then Wolf Lahti said:

> K has never meant 10^3 but rather 2^10.

I could be terribly confused here, but according to my references and
resources "K" is the symbol for temperature in degrees Kelvin.

5K could thus be taken as -268.16C.

And taking a further step back, trying to look at this as someone unfamiliar
with the terminology, I'd have to use the logic that essentially says
"When you say a '5K' file you mean five kilobytes, right? And 'kilo' means
'one thousand,' so it's a 5,000 byte file, right?" Okay, -we- all know
that it's 5120 bytes, not 5,000. And -we- all know that the concept of a
kilobyte is rounded off to the nearest thousand, for ease of understanding.

When we defend this on the grounds that "we all know it," don't we sound
a bit like the annoying engineers down the hall that won't provide some
of the data we need?

And taking it one little step further, if we agree that "k" stands for "kilo"
then it shouldn't be a 5K file, it should be a 5k file.

We, the people who jump onto this list and proclaim ourselve the protectors
of precise language, the same folks who argue over usage of "that" in
the language or fight to the death over the use of generless pronouns...
we've managed to corrupt a long-accepted scientific symbol.


Rick Lippincott
Boston Technology
Wakefield, MA
rjl -at- bostech -dot- com

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