September 9, 2014

Metrication

Filed under: Think About It!, What the hell? — Katrina @ 9:21 pm

Why the hell do we say “a thousand kilometers”? Why don’t we say “one megameter”? Because it sounds weird? It only sounds weird because it’s not in common use. The metric system comes with all these lovely prefixes for whichever power of ten off the basic unit you’re using, but for some reason we limit ourselves roughly to kilo and milli, if that. Centi only gets to shine when followed by meter. I see 10 milliliter containers and such quite a bit, but never once is it called “one centiliter”. Why not? That’s what it is, isn’t it? Even considering the circumstantial necessity of keeping decimal places constant, you’d think it might show up at least sometimes. And I never see any big vats of things labeled as “one kiloliter”.

Distance from Earth to the Sun? About 150 million kilometers? Pfft. What do you need all them extra decimal places for? Try 150 gigameters!

Why should bytes have all the fun?

Don’t even get me started on the sheer neglect suffered by all 10 centimeters of the decimeter. Or of all 100 meters of the hectometer, who only seems to show up when squared. You know, it’s a hectometer and it’s a square so it’s a… wait for it… hectare! I totally get it! :D

Although metric ton does sound more badass than megagram. Metric ton is also the basis of the fun-to-say metric fuckton. Does megafuckgram have the same ring to it? These are the important questions.

Isn’t this fun? Hell, I haven’t even gotten to our lovely little friends micro and nano, who make some tiny scientific appearances, such as the ever-present 200┬ÁL (that’s right, mu not u!) pipette tips. But these prefixes get their attention where warranted. They just don’t come up often in common use because things tend to be bigger than that. They’re just hiding out at the cellular and molecular levels. Biding their time.

So, yeah, that’s the beauty of the metric system. For the super super super big and the super super super small, there’s a prefix to fit your measuring needs! Yay metrication!

Now if only we could go the whole nine ya- er, the whole 823 centimeters, and give some of these prefixes more attention.

Failing that, might as well be using imperial! Maybe I’ll start referring to a thousand inches as a kiloinch… :cute:

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