what do you mean, Other English Versions?

Subject: what do you mean, Other English Versions?
From: John -dot- Renish -at- CONNER -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 5 Feb 1996 09:41:18 PST

This has turned out to be a most interesting thread, particularly where we
ignorant Americans are concerned (okay, some people who are daily users of
SI also blew it). For my compatriots' information, I think we are one of
three countries, possibly fewer, who are not on the SI ("metric") system.
That industrial powerhouse Trinidad and Tobago recently left our rarified
company. Of course the British have been converting for over 20 years, and
they still sell beer by the Imperial pint and gasoline by the Imperial
gallon, and post speed limits in miles per hour.

Jim Vinokuroff and Tim Altom correctly identified the newton-metre as the SI
unit for torque, but lose points for capitalizing newton. The correct
conversion factor, which I had previously flubbed in a private mail to Stan
Radowski, is 1 ft-lb = 1.35582 n-m OR 1 n-m = 0.73756 ft-lb. In the original
example, 45 in-lb +/- 5 in-lb works out to 5.1 +/- 0.56 n-m. In the real
world, we would probably use 5.0 +/- 0.5 n-m. So far, I have seen torque
wrenches calibrated in in-oz, ft-lb, and n-m, but never in-lb.

In converting between the two systems, it is generally best to err on the
side of sloppiness where possible. In Marin County, California, USA,
secondary road "mile markers" (for culverts and the like) bear English
measurements to the nearest hundredth of a mile (52.8 ft or 13.4 m) and
metric measurements to the nearest thousandth of a kilometre (1 m).
Presumably some bureaucrat said "do those conversions on a calculator and
then we'll re-label the posts," not realizing that the metric values imply
precision more than an order of magnitude higher than the original
measurements.

A note on orthography:
While SI permits us to spell metre as meter, it prefers the former in order
to differentiate between measurements and measuring devices, as an
automotive speedoMETER measures speed in kiloMETRE per hour. Common usage is
to pluralize the unit of measurement, but SI sternly forbids us to do so.
Careful writers have also made a point of not pluralizing units of
measurement. When writing for a strictly US audience, I (blush), spell it
meter.

John -dot- Renish -at- Conner -dot- com
My comments are my own and do not represent Conner Peripherals


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