back to article Register SPB hacks mull chopping off feet

Weary special-projects-bureau operatives at El Reg have decided the time has come to consider exclusively adopting the International System of Units (aka SI Units), and ditching the mile, pound and related measurements. It's a royal pain in the backside working with two systems, which results in sentences such as "Baumgartner …

COMMENTS

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  1. Yesnomaybe
    Pint

    Go ahead

    I think the metric system makes a lot of sense. Just don't take my pint away, that's all. Every time I go home to visit, I get beer in measly 0.5l portions, and it is quite frankly an inferior way of serving beer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Go ahead

      When outside of the pub I drink from 500ml microbrewary type beer bottles. It seems to still work the same.

      I'm not for forcing pubs to change, but I do dispute the allegiance to the pint as a measure for beer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Go ahead

        Pint (UK) is 568ml, so you're being robbed!

    2. Schultz Silver badge
      Pint

      Don't like the smaller beer?

      Then go ahead and order a real beer.

      (I am paraphrasing a real-life Bavarian waitress here, 'real' refers to the proper SI unit of volume.)

    3. ChrisBoy

      Re: Go ahead

      Unless you like Guinness 'Original' (the non-widgety version), which has been sold almost universally as '500ml' but with '13% extra free' for the past few years...

      Makes me wonder if maybe there's a loophole that can be exploited... sell half a pint of beer at full rates of duty, but put it into full-pint glasses that must be 'rented' at, say, 25p per drink... you get your half-pint at full price, pay 25p on top to rent the glass, and have it filled to the brim with 50% extra 'free'!

      Everybody wins, except George Osborne... so everybody wins!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      Re: Go ahead

      Take it from a drug addicted nutcase - drink your beer in buckets - the metric ones - that hold 20 liters.

      Pints be damned.

    5. SuperTim
      Pirate

      Re: Go ahead

      Just expect an El Reg themed "Gimli Glider" when someone makes a bit of a cock-up with measurements! I am looking at you LOHAN!

    6. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Re: Go ahead

      I hate mixed units. Feet have got to go.

      Just threw up at a New Scientist article using hundredths of a cm. Erm that would be 0.1mm or thereabouts.

      Personally I don't see what is wrong with microSmoots.

  2. Whitter
    Coat

    El Reg units

    SI plus El Reg units obviously.

    Those crazy examples didn't even have a double decker bus in them!

  3. James 51
    Thumb Up

    SI señor

    It is a lot less confusing that the muddle that is imperial (what ever flavo(u)r you prefer).

    Though someone really should drag NASA into at least the late 18th century.

    1. Michael Dunn
      Pint

      Re: SI señor

      Yes, Imperial measures in America, though shouldn't they really be Colonial units?

      Note that America also has Coroners!

      Couldn't find an icon for my schooner of sherry, so this "pint of sack" will have to do.

      1. Elmer Phud
        Pint

        Ten gallon hat

        Not forgetting that the U.S. pint is a mere 16 ounces which makes their gallon a piddling amount.

      2. kwhitefoot
        Pint

        Re: SI señor

        All the Americans I know say Imperial units but what they really mean is US Customary.

        The volume measures differ even when they have the same name.

        See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_the_imperial_and_US_customary_measurement_systems

        And a message to our hosts: why don't URLs turn into links?

  4. Roger Greenwood
    Pint

    Both have a place . . .

    . . . as long as the units are clearly declared.

    Weight of a person - should obviously be in stones. All other weights in Kg please.

    (Flight level two-five-zero, QNH 1013)

  5. Snowy
    Mushroom

    Yes please!

    It is about time we ended the experiment that is SI and go back to British Imperial with proper Imperial units.

    1. Marco van de Voort
      Devil

      Re: Yes please!

      I think Imperial unit standardization already went a step to far, let alone the even more radical SI.

      Every town should have its own measurements again! It's like insane that a mile in London is the same as a mile in Brighton! Reverting to the old tried and tested practice from before all this standardization nonsense will encourage thinking local again !

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Americans...

    My brother-in-law's father is an American physics teacher, he was very clear on the subject when I asked him, he words were along the lines of:

    "The metric system is the only sensible way forward, any engineering or physics which uses the imperial system is a nightmare. It's just not fit for modern use, we need to change over to metric."

    I tend to argee.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Americans...

      I guess "argee" is a compromise between agree and argue. A very useful neologism that should be widely used.

      Upvote if you argee. Or, downvote if you argee.

      1. Amonynous

        Re: Americans...

        "Upvote if you argee. Or, downvote if you argee."

        I would, but unfortunately the forum system only permits either an upvote or a downvote, not both. I'd hate you to think I am argeeing when in fact I am argeeing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Americans...

          You could always disargee ...

      2. kwhitefoot
        Thumb Up

        Are you trying to wind us up?

        I tried to compromise but El reg wouldn't let me give half and up and half a down vote.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. richardcox13
      Boffin

      Re: Americans...

      Arguably for much of physics even the SI units are a RPITA. So many things would be easier with "natural" units. For example in particle physics using Planck Units, however these are not exactly practical outside their specialisms (time in units of approximately 5.4e-44s and distance of 1.6e-35m).

      1. Michael Dunn

        Re: Americans...

        Time in units of approximately 5.4e-44s and distance of 1.6e-35m. Would make medal tables in athletics contests fiendishly difficult to print, or even understand!

  7. johnB

    Yes Please

    Let's go for SI units & join the rest of the human race. Honourable exception to be given to aircraft height & beer.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Left/Right Coordinates

      Normal aircraft heights should of course be negative. This ensures the yaw angle increases clockwise in a right-handed coordinate system.

  8. Tim Wolfe-Barry

    What about the Universal Engineering Standard?

    I've been using these for as long as I can remember:

    Gnat's<Smidge<Touch<Nudge<Bit<Lots

    Then again I am on record as describing a trench as 4m long by 6" wide - only in the UK!

    1. AdamT

      Re: What about the Universal Engineering Standard?

      i used to work in the digital printing world and it was pretty normal to define an inch as 25.2mm so that a 600dpi spacing was 42 microns rather than 42 1/3 microns. Then you simply had the difficulty of remembering when you needed to convert from "real inches" to "internal metric inches" ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about the Universal Engineering Standard?

        "i used to work in the digital printing world and it was pretty normal to define an inch as 25.2mm"

        It's 25.4mm.

        So glad that your not machining and fitting my bearings, slides, seals, washers, gaskets, and all the other nit picky shit that goes "Hiss / leak / catch fire / bang / scrape / seize / etc." because 0.2mm tightness or looseness was enough to cause more problems than I care to mention.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about the Universal Engineering Standard?

          His definition works as stated. However,

          "So glad that your not machining ..."

          Oops.

      2. Bitbeisser
        FAIL

        Re: What about the Universal Engineering Standard?

        Well, for the record, an inch is 25.4mm

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: What about the Universal Engineering Standard?

      You forgot 'Shitloads' [Bobby Block, VP of Communications for SpaceX, when being asked how much water is used over the vent during a launch], but that is forgiveable as it is only used when to refer to abnormally large quantities!

  9. AdamT
    Trollface

    <repost>

    Look, everyone knows what happens if you keep switching units: you'll crash into Mars

    (which would actually be pretty spectacular for a helium balloon)

    1. Colin Brett
      Thumb Up

      Re: <repost>

      "Look, everyone knows what happens if you keep switching units: you'll crash into Mars"

      I was trying to work out the best way of saying this but it appears, AdamT, that you have hit the hit the proverbial nail on the head. Well done, sir!

      Now. What's the volume of the head of a nail as expressed in SI or El Reg units? It's got to be an awful lot smaller than a walnut (0.16gf in Reg units).

      Colin

    2. leon clarke
      Go

      Re: <repost>

      > Look, everyone knows what happens if you keep switching units: you'll crash into Mars

      That would be classed as a spectacular success for the LOHAN project. Anything that increases the chance of crashing into mars should be done. Keep with mixed units.

  10. Dr Paul Taylor
    Coat

    penalty for non-compliance

    Metric martyrs should be made to sit Victorian applied maths exams, with poundals and bushels and British Thermal Units and all the other ridiculous ones that I can't remember. Compulsory resits until they agree to go on telly to say how much easier SI is.

    1. Colin Brett
      Joke

      Re: penalty for non-compliance

      "Metric martyrs should be made to sit Victorian applied maths exams, with poundals and bushels and British Thermal Units and all the other ridiculous ones that I can't remember."

      In the US, however, wouldn't this be "cruel and unusual punishment" and against the Constitution?

      Colin

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Edible Postcard
      Go

      Re: penalty for non-compliance

      It doesn't need anything so contrived, sadly. Mixed units are a continual problem in the UK. Give your putative examinee a car, tell them it does 30 mpg, they need to drive 100 miles, petrol is £1.37 a litre and they have £20. Is it enough?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: penalty for non-compliance

        tell them they're in France, it does 30 mpg, they need to drive 100 km, petrol is €1.37 a litre and they have a £20 travellers cheque. Is it enough?

        There... yours was too easy...

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: penalty for non-compliance

        WTF kind of old bangers are you guys driving that only get 30mpg?

        Oh, hang on. Are you using reg units for mpg? Marrows per Galleon?

      3. MonkeyBot

        MPG?

        Why introduce needless volume measurements?

        I'm spending money to travel so the natural units for measuring a car's efficiency should be miles-per-£.

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: MPG?

          So, when your car fuel efficiency suddenly falls, do you:

          a) take it to be repaired

          b) blame your government for increasing fuel tax

          c) blame the European government

          d) blame OPEC

          e) get out and walk?

    3. Michael Dunn
      Coat

      Re: penalty for non-compliance

      I did Physics at Higher Crrtificate level (the exam at 18 after Matric) in 1950, and many of the questions required working in mixed units: cgs and imperial, using a slide-rule as calculator More time doing arithmetic than actual physics! The slide-rule had markings for pi and "e" and the HP/kw equivalence factor to make calculations "easier".

      My old slide-rule still in the pocket.

    4. Kobus Botes

      Re: penalty for non-compliance

      Here in sunny South Africa we converted to the metric system in the early sixties (took about ten years to do the job, mind).

      This story reminds me of the joke about the farmer who bitterly complained about the negative effect that the new system had on him (just to explain - the conversion rate for money was two Rands to the Pound):

      His complaint was that it had become impossible to farm anymore, as

      "My farm is now sixty percent further from town and my land was halved. I now use almost five times as much fuel and fuel consumption has taken a terrible dip, whilst my lorries and trailers can only carry half as much as before. The cost of everything doubled whilst my yield was halved. My labourers now demand twice as much as before and then they tell me it will make things a lot easier!"

  11. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Converting to old fashioned units

    If you do decide to keep the old, imperial units, could you at least stop converting to (or even bothering with) multiple decimal places. For example in the article, does it matter that the dude in question reached a speed of 586.92 km/hr or that 1,315kg is 2,899 pounds.

    Although I appreciate a bit more than "in a pressurised rather heavy capsule", I doubt it matters to anyone reading whether the capsule's weight is given to 4 digits of accuracy when 1.3 tonnes (or tons, the difference is slight and immaterial - just please god: not metric tonnes) would tell us all we need to know. Though informing us what that is in olympic swimming pools-full of linguini is obviously a definite requirement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Converting to old fashioned units

      Notwithstanding the issues of meaningless accuracy its probably best to err on the side of the metric the subject is used to being described in. i.e. aircraft altitue in feet, ship speed in knots, horse prices in guineas and yes, leave me with my pint of beer.

      Leave SI units to the supermarkets.

      Perhaps the SPB should invent their own units?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Converting to old fashioned units

      What's the matter? Too much work? If so, perhaps a script could be written. Over ten years, it might not even use 1 KwH...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Boffin

        Re: Converting to old fashioned units

        How do you feel about PI?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Converting to old fashioned units

          @m0rt: "How do you feel about PI?"

          3 was good enough for God, so why man feels it needs decimals is beyond me.

          1. Michael Dunn

            Re: Converting to old fashioned units

            3 was good enough for God, so why man feels it needs decimals is beyond me.

            Ah, was Hiram inspired when designing/building his tank, or was Satan whispering in his ear? Satan has a certain history of interfering in human history: eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge _should_ have settled the matter of the existence of the Higgs Boson once and for all. One also remembers the modern answer to Pope's complimentary couplet:

            Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night;

            God said "Let Newton be!" and all was light.

            to which the response was:

            This could not last, the Devil shouting "Ho!

            Let Einstein be!" restored the status quo.

        2. Pete 2 Silver badge

          Re: Converting to old fashioned units

          > How do you feel about PI?

          Many answers depending on circumstances.

          3 is generally good enough

          sqrt(10) is often handy. Pi**2 comes up a lot in physics.

          Also 78.5% is far more useful if you're working out areas (the percentage of the largest circle that fits in a given square)

      2. SysKoll
        Thumb Up

        Re: Converting to old fashioned units

        You mean 1 kWh.

        Which brings a good point. SI units also come with standard abbreviations. 1000 is k, not K (which is Kelvin temperature). Similarly, h is hecto (100) while H is henry (an impedance unit). And so one. Please, no mix up.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Converting to old fashioned units

        kWh actually, not KwH

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Converting to old fashioned units

      I like being an utter prick who spells the metric tonnes as tons - fuck them - it's easier.

      Every fucking thing should be METRIC tons by now, or KKg's (Hey I just invented that - fancy that a new ISO standard - KKg's - I Said it Orrite.)

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Converting to old fashioned units

        "Every fucking thing should be METRIC tons by now, or KKg's (Hey I just invented that - fancy that a new ISO standard - KKg's - I Said it Orrite.)"

        Already exists - Mg :p

        When God said to Moses "Take 2 tablets and call me in the morning", his pharmacist misread the prescription.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Converting to old fashioned units

        "I like being an utter prick who spells the metric tonnes as tons - fuck them - it's easier."

        From what I saw above, you need things as easy as possible ...

    4. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: Converting to old fashioned units

      Everyone knows that a temperature of 20 degrees centigrade is 68 Fahrenheit. But differences in temperature convert differently, though the average newspaper hack or subeditor is unaware of that. So deltaT of 20C is 36F, not 68F as often reported.

      There is much to be said for a policy of euthanasia for anyone over 21 without O-level maths. Especially for those who judge railway company bidding.

    5. Concrete Gannet
      Headmaster

      Re: Converting to old fashioned units

      Hear, hear.

      "Baumgartner jumped from an altitude of 29,455m (96,640ft), hitting 586.92km/h (364.69mph)" and "in a pressurised 1,315kg (2,899lb) capsule".

      No. Nobody measured the height to a precision of a metre, or speed to a precision of .01 km/h. If you quote two significant figures for a number, you're within one percent. Stop there. Expressing a round number in one system of units as a number with many significant figures in another implies a level of precision that almost certainly wasn't there in the original measurement.

      There's the old joke about the curator in the museum who was asked how old the dinosaur skeleton was, and said "66 million and 4 years". When the visitor expressed surprise they knew the age that precisely, the curator said, "Well, when I started here they said it was 66 million years old, and I've been working here four years now."

      I am always amazed in debates about metrication in Britain and the US that nobody looks at what happened in Australia. The sky didn't fall in, people. Really it didn't.

  12. mccp

    Simply use the correct unit for the subject

    I've never understood why anyone bothers providing an amount in more than one unit. Just stick to a rule that says you can only use one unit and it should be appropriate to the subject. I.e.:

    Beer - pints, obv.

    Distance - KM, miles, light years, parsecs, etc. according to subject.

    Length, height, girth, etc.: feet, metres, microns, linguine...

    The most annoying use of dual units is when some imbecile provides a currency amount in the currency relevant to the story and then converted to a precise sterling amount - clearly the conversion will never be accurate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simply use the correct unit for the subject

      "The most annoying use of dual units is when some imbecile provides a currency amount in the currency relevant to the story and then converted to a precise sterling amount - clearly the conversion will never be accurate."

      Doesn't help that the conversion factor changes all the time.

  13. jb99

    Obviously

    Obviously keep miles distance, and pints (for beer and milk only) and SI for everything else.

    You know it makes sense!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A change...

    ...is afoot

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A change...

      Yes, we are inching towards a consensus. Imperial units are SI lly.

  15. EddieD

    SI units all the way

    I'd like you to keep pints for beer, calories for food consumption and inches for measurements of physical attributes, but other than that, give me meters - cubic or otherwise, grams and Joules.

    1. cosymart
      Facepalm

      Re: SI units all the way

      It's "METRES" not bloody "METERS" unless you are metering something....Arrggg! Yes, I know the merkins cannot spell.

      1. EddieD
        Unhappy

        Re: SI units all the way

        Aye, sorry - I have a blind spot for things like that (and accomodation...I never get that one right) - it's a fifty-fifty choice I always get wrong.

      2. Bill Neal
        Trollface

        Re: SI units all the way

        My spellcheck would disagree, and it is pronounced as METERS. is it not?

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: SI units all the way

      SI for me too, and Celsius.

      Copied this from the Wikipedia.

      "For example meter and liter are used in the United States whereas metre and litre are used in other English-speaking countries."

      "The usage of the metric system varies around the world. According to the US Central Intelligence Agency's Factbook, the International System of Units has been adopted as the official system of weights and measures by all nations in the world except for Burma, Liberia and the United States,[55] while NIST has claimed that the United States is the only industrialized country where the metric system is not the official system of units.[56] Some sources, though, suggest that this information is out of date.[57] An Agence France-Presse report from 2010 stated that Sierra Leone, not Liberia, had continued to use the Imperial system, but had passed a law to enact metrication, in line with its Mano River Union (MRU) neighbours Guinea and Liberia.[58] Reports from Burma suggest that that country is planning to adopt the metric system also.[59]

      In the United States, where the use of metric units was authorised by Congress in 1866,[60] such units are widely used in science, military, and partially in industry."

      Still I would have nothing against a pint of beer right now, but I wonder if this glass is really a pint.

    3. Michael Dunn
      Coat

      Re: SI units all the way

      It's sometimes useful to report food consumption in "KillerJoules!"

      It's a white one.

  16. DragonLord

    I'm very much in favour of the idea, however I still think in feet, miles, acres, stone and lbs, so it may make it harder for us Brits to translate too. (short distances feet and m are fairly interchangeable depending on what gives the best round number)

    1. DragonLord

      Slight addition/change (after re-reading the article)

      Why not do altitude in feet, air speed in knots, long distances and ground speed in the most convenient format with a translation to the nearest convenient figure. Short distances in m/cm/mm and area in m2 or whatever is convenient.

      Volume should be done in litres (except drinks which should be done in pints)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I'm very much in favour of the idea, however I still think in feet, miles, acres, stone and lbs, so it may make it harder for us Brits to translate too(sic)"

      Only the senile ones. I am forty, and was taught in SI units at school.

  17. dajames Silver badge
    Trollface

    The Spirit of compromise ...

    ... would be to adopt c.g.s. units, which are almost as archaic and illogical as Imperial, while at the same time being just as metric as SI.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Colin Brett
      Facepalm

      Re: The Spirit of compromise ...

      "... would be to adopt c.g.s. units, which are almost as archaic and illogical as Imperial, while at the same time being just as metric as SI.

      What could possibly go wrong?"

      As posted by AdamT ... we wouldn't just miss Mars, we'd hit Jupiter!

      Colin

      1. AlgernonFlowers4

        Re: The Spirit of compromise ...

        Does it matter as long as it's not Uranus?

  18. Daedalus Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Fond of Fahrenheit

    While I agree about weights and measures, I've never liked Celsius as a scale for ambient temperature. Herr Fahrenheit was dead right about avoiding negative temperature values. What does Celsius give us except a 0 to 100 scale between freezing and boiling water? When was the last time anybody cared that there were exactly 100 degrees between those two points? It's not as if you ever need to divide by 10 to get some other temperature unit. Zero Fahrenheit is about as cold as you ever want it to get outside (trust me, we see that here upstate NY). Calling it -17C isn't the same. And 100 F is about as hot as you ever want it to get outside (rare here, not so rare in the nation's capital).

    Sadly, the Celsius degree got adopted for the Kelvin scale, so science is on the side of big fat degrees with freezing point as zero. But there's really no reason for it to be in any way superior to good old deg F. Reet!

    1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      Re: Fond of Fahrenheit

      I couldn't disagree more. 20 degrees Celsius is room temperature. Anything from there up to 26 is pleasant. Anything 27 and above is too hot. The range 18 to 20 can be managed by adding layers of clothing and anything below 18 requires some form of room heating. Zero or below outside means watch out for ice on the roads and pavements (sidewalks to you Daedalus.) Fahrenheit is completely impenetrable.

      1. Dr. Mouse

        Re: Fond of Fahrenheit

        "anything below 18 requires some form of room heating"

        I'd hate to see your gas (or electric, if you're using leccy heaters) bill.

        Anything down to 10C can be managed without active heating or jumpers. 5-10 is jumper weather. Under 5, time to put the heating on.

        1. pete23
          Windows

          Re: Fond of Fahrenheit

          By eck lad, art tha a sissy?

        2. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

          Re: Anything down to 10C...

          You forgot the fanboi (masochist) icon.

      2. A J Stiles

        Re: Fond of Fahrenheit

        "Anything below 18 requires room heating" -- You're just nesh.

        Anything over 20 degrees needs air conditioning ..... Or privacy.

    2. Colin Brett
      Holmes

      Re: Fond of Fahrenheit

      Use Kelvin

      Colin

    3. Schultz Silver badge

      Zero Fahrenheit is about as cold as you ever want it

      Sounds like you didn't get out of the neighborhood very much. I fondly remember Canada where thermometers went from -50 to +50 °C (and they did so for a good reason). -18 °C, or 0 F was that kind of pleasant winter night with mini-skirted girls waiting in line at the club.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fond of Fahrenheit

      Actually, Fahrenheit just invented a scale so he use his name for marketing purposes. Everyone has a vague idea of how hot boiling water is (Ow! That f^%$ing hot!) and icy water is (Grr! Thats bloody freezing!) so I go with Celsius.

    5. Matthew 3

      Re: Fond of Fahrenheit

      Here in Blighty most folks I know use Celsius measurements in the winter and switch to Fahrenheit ones for the summer.

  19. Dave 126 Silver badge

    SPB operates in Spain, no?

    So I would have thought that Metric would be the way to go.

    Personally, I use Imperial for estimates (the numbers suit it better) and I use SI for measurements and calculations. "So, we need a piece of wood about four inches wide by three foot. Exactly? Well, lets see... [gets out measure tape and pen] I make it 112 mil by 1027".

    But that's just me.

    Reg, I'm still waiting for your unit conversion App... though thought needs to be given on notation, since a Double Decker Bus can be a unit of length and of volume (I'm thinking DDBl, and DDBa, maybe)... likewise, brontosaurs.

    But as reporting normal stories, just use the unit that the source provides.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: SPB operates in Spain, no?

      Conversion app? http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: SPB operates in Spain, no?

        Ta muchly. Who needs an app when you can have a bookmark? : D

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SPB operates in Spain, no?

      >So I would have thought that Metric would be the way to go.

      Sí SI señor

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A brilliant idea

    Not only because proper units with a preponderance of base ten are neater and easier to work with, but it would really, really annoy the more eye-bulgy Americans. Win all round.

    I do remember standing in the kitchen making soup to the dulcet tones of Gardener's Question Time (god damnit, I am so rock and roll), when one of the experts was trying to describe a pest to one of the questioners, saying it was "about 1.5mm long". The questioner replied smugly and self-righteously that "I don't do inches". The expert took a deep breath and very politely explained that it might be a good idea to do so, as measuring something like that in inches was a bit of a lost cause.

    For me, that distilled the generational issues inherent in this sort of debate. Kids in this country have been taught proper SI units for years (I'm an old or at least middle-aged git, and I was). It's about time that people let it go. Yeah, ok, so the Colonials are cleaving firmly to what they fondly imagine that we also regard as useful units, but screw them, really.

    The only proper units are double decker buses, princes of whales and the like, obviously, but failing that, SI units will do the trick nicely.

  21. mordac
    Boffin

    Dynamic content

    Surely one of your boffins can implement a dynamic filter so that readers can select between unit systems at will?

    When they do, be sure to include the Furlong-Firkin-Fortnight unit system in the choices.

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Dynamic content

      Sounds like the correct approach for a techie site like this. It'd be easy enough to implement site-wide, and people could choose their preferred units of measurement on demand, be they Imperial, US, Metric or (the correct system, of course) Register Standard Units.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dynamic content

      Agreed. Just use XHTML - define a namespace for the Reg, annotate all values, use Javascript to tweak the DOM as needed.

      Give them <TheReg:distance value=".0254">an inch</TheReg:distance> and they'll take <TheReg:distance="1609.344">a mile</TheReg:distance>.

      Then we can see SI, Imperial, TheReg, Planck, Potrzebie, or whatever.

  22. Barely registers
    Megaphone

    Kill it with fire

    Yes, god yes. Consign these unholy Imperial abominations to the darkest of the depths. Lead the way, and maybe, just maybe, we can drag the rest of the world kicking and screaming out of the mire and into the light.

    And while we're at it changing the road signs from miles to km, let's drive on the right hand side of the road too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Kill it with fire

      What does driving on the right have to do with going metric (sayth the Yank)?

      1. Barely registers

        Re: Kill it with fire

        Nothing - just two birds, one stone, and all that. Both excercises (metric and lane change) need new signs. Let's do both at the same time.

  23. Andrew Alan McKenzie
    Paris Hilton

    SI units please, and sensible rounding to significant figures, i.e 70 degrees Fahrenheit = 0.1 Hiltons, not 0.1111 - after all it's not as if you are dealing with rocket science...

  24. rurwin
    Headmaster

    Miles, miles per hour, all else metric. Just like the good old UK itself. -- Well apart from gallons of course, but the yanks have messed up our liquid measures so much that we're probably best to stay away from that.

    (I could understand making a pint a fluid pound, and keeping a gallon at eight pints is understandable pedance, but why change the size of a fluid ounce?)

    ...((and yes, the chances are that it was us that changed, in which case I'm sure there was a damned good reason.))

  25. DrXym Silver badge

    If it annoys the Americans

    Do it.

    Anyway on a more practical note, I assume it would be possible insert tags into whatever raw format articles are submitted in, e.g. @{s,20000,mph}, @{w,25,kg), @{v,100,usg} or similar and for the output to appear in whatever measurement a user chooses as their default. A !{} notation might force the output but still provide hover text which provides alternatives and so on. Combine it with a microformat tagging scheme and the conversion information could even be delegated to browser plugin.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If it annoys the Americans

      Indeed while at the same time retaining British character.

      Give the SI units alongside imperial ones - but stone or (long) tons for anything over about 20lb

      British fluid ounces and gallons.

  26. Eugene Crosser
    Pint

    Except a pint

    As one raised in metric, I take centimetre, gram and second any day.

    But not litre please.

    "I likes a pint. You could 'a drawed me off a pint easy enough."

  27. Eddy Ito

    To quote Abe

    "The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it."

    1. DJO Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: To quote Abe

      What the fuck do you drive? Concorde?

      40 rods = 10 chains = 1 furlong = 660 feet

      A Hogshead is 46 Imperial Gallons

      So your cars burns 368 gallons per mile - You must have one hell of a fuel tank!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: To quote Abe

        @DJO

        He was quoting a fictional character who is is very old and reactionary, and prone to exaggeration when giving "When I was young.."-type accounts. Whilst I applaud your doing the sums, I call fail on your fail.

        Homer Simpson, in another episode, gave a list of Springfield's virtues: "...And we we were the first town in America to abandon the Metric system!"

      2. Eddy Ito
        Thumb Up

        Re: To quote Abe, @DJO

        Thanks for the chuckle.

  28. Prof Yaffle
    Thumb Up

    Go For It

    It never ceases to amaze me when Radio 4 goes blathering on about ounces, inches, Farenheit, bushels, grains or similarly archaic measures. I'm 44 - firmly on the edges of "middle aged fogeyism" - and was brought up with SI right here on these shores, and have never really used anything else beyond the colloqualisms of "it's a few inches", "that's a few feet". Reach for a tape measure, though, and it's metric all the way. And don't get me started on road signs in yards, or my sat nav telling me to turn left in 200 feet... wot?

    And yes, I weight myself in kilos as well, before you ask. But I recognise that this is a little unusual!

    1. rurwin

      Re: Go For It

      "my sat nav telling me to turn left in 200 feet... wot?"

      Garmin I assume. That drove me crazy too. My new Tom Tom properly uses yards.

    2. Steve Hosgood
      Unhappy

      Re: Go For It

      My Garmin does that too. That's why I run the thing in metric. "In 300 metres, turn left" - yeah, that's at least comprehensible even if the matching roadsign says 330yds.

      But of course there almost never is a matching roadsign, so I just go with metres and ignore the Department of Transport's insistence on hanging on to useless old units on their signs.

  29. Real Ale is Best
    Boffin

    SI only, please!

    With a possible exception for describing aeroplane flight levels.

    1. Grikath

      Re: SI only, please!

      aeroplane flight levels are also expressed in meters, as long as you fly with an airline that is not frmo a country that's not still mired in Imperial measurements.

      Face it. lads and lasses, worldview aside, imperial is a minority system that's never used by anyone doing something approaching real boffinry, or even spin-cycling, unless from the US.

      1. SkippyBing

        Re: SI only, please!

        Actually the unit to measure flight levels is defined by the air space the aircraft it's in, not where it's from, it tends to avoid the inevitable carnage of your system. I think China and the former Soviet Union are the only places to use metric flight levels and since 2011 Russia uses flight levels that are the equivalent of the Imperial ones, so they use 10350m which is 34000' or FL 340.

        The aircraft themselves are free to measure altitude and flight levels in whatever manner they desire, but for certification purposes airliners have to have an altimeter that reads in feet or meters and I suspect the larger ones can display in either.

  30. b166er
    Pint

    I have the solution to the pint problem.

    Measure them out as 500ml (or half-litre (yes that's another argument entirely, litre or liter)) servings, but call them pints (Imperial ones, natch (another argument, sheesh)) and outlaw anyone from filing a legal complaint that their 'pint' is actually only 500ml.

    In fact, if anyone ever complains that their 'pint' is only 500ml, have them taken away to the stocks (in the beer garden) and publicly humiliated.

    Let it therefore pass into the lexicon that a pint is in fact 500ml; problem solved.

    Oh and the price must also drop accordingly. (I know, i know, porcine aviators, frozen wastes of Hades)

    Whatever would we do with all the pint glasses?

    1. b166er
      Thumb Up

      BTW, when did the SPB masthead get all Mulder?

    2. JimmyPage
      FAIL

      or alternatively

      why not sell people 568ml when they ask for "a pint" ?

      1. b166er

        Re: or alternatively

        Well, that would work too :D

        Just wouldn't be standardised as per the implied original intention.

        Plus, perhaps, people who have drinking issues might end up consuming less.

        1. Red Bren
          Pint

          Re: or alternatively

          People who have drinking issues need to consume more!

    3. A J Stiles

      Old pint glasses

      We could scribe a line at 500ml,. leaving a 68ml. oversize for those who like a head on their beer.

    4. Dr. Mouse

      "Whatever would we do with all the pint glasses?"

      Keep them. Then we could actually get the beer we pay for with a head, rather than having to sacrifice beer for the head.

      I love it at beer festivals. Get half pints in a pint glass, and they give you half a pint of beer plus a head on top. A nice, large, frothy head is great to drink the beer through, and you don't mind because you are getting what you paid for. Similarly, when I drink my own homebrew, there's no "topping up". Plenty of froth, leave it to settle a bit and drink.

      IMHO all beer should be served in oversized glasses with a measurement mark. Otherwise, you always get less than you pay for (either the head is taking up beer space, or the beer is flat: Either way it's not what you are paying for).

  31. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    Metric and ICAO

    I'd say use SI units for everything except for aeronautical matters. The exception is because in aviation the use of feet for altitude, nautical miles for distance and knots for speed is universal in powered civilian aircraft.

    1. Daniel 18

      Re: Metric and ICAO

      Unfortunately, you never know if the person giving you the data... or the person who gave them the data... or their source... knows that. And you never know when someone along the way decided to be 'helpful' by converting to a 'better' measurement, in either direction.

  32. Alister Silver badge
    Joke

    Register SPB hacks mull chopping off feet

    Well as the aforementioned Reg hacks are regularly legless, a couple of feet should make no difference...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Yes please...

    Imperial to SI conversions and vice versa have been the cause of costly cockups in ESA and NASA programmes... so yes, use SI. Makes sense. The Spanish will be thankful to you. ;-)

    1. Colin Brett

      Re: Yes please...

      "The Spanish will be thankful to you. ;-)"

      Que?

      Colin

  34. deive

    I'm with the removal of all imperial!

    Plus you can then report "Baumgartner jumped from an altitude of 29,455m (3195.032 ddb)" to start the transition from SI to Reg standards.

  35. Edmund Green

    SI all the way

    If you're going to bite the bullet and go with SI units then you should go all the way and not have any exceptions - the site title says "Sci/Tech News" so hopefully most of us reading it are familier enough with units to be able to convert to something else in those more stubborn scenarios that have been mentioned and maybe even encourage others to use the SI units in these cases.

    re: altitude - I'm sure I've heard a pilot announce the altitude in km before now - about 10km seems typical? and OS maps switched their contour lines to metric intervals sometimes around the 1970s I think.

    Speed is a tricky one - should you use km per hour or metres per second ....

  36. A J Stiles

    SI please

    SI all the way, please. Even the heights and distances. (It's about time the Americans learned something.)

    (41 year old Briton, 171cm., 69kg.)

  37. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Pint

    I blame the parents!

    The problem is that while I was taught metric at school, my Dad was a far bigger influence on me than any of my teachers. So despite the fact that I'm just about to hit 40, and had a 'proper' education in the 'correct' scientific units, I mostly think in imperial. Although there's a lot to be said for a 'horses for courses' approach. As our French, SI creating, 'friends' would agree. Although in their case, it's usually horses for main courses...

    As someone above said, I often find myself estimating in imperial, but working in metric. So I've been putting up curtains recently, and while that window may be about 4 foot wide, when it comes to actually buying the curtain pole it's 1140mm. I don't know if that's because feet'n'inches are a more 'friendly', 'human scale' measure, of if it's just the way my brain's programmed. But I doubt it's a habit I'll ever break.

    When I make a stew, I want about1/4 lb of meat per person. OK, that's near enough 125g, but even after all this time I still often go through the mental process of, 'there's 2.2 lb to the kg, so half a kilo's about a pound, and a quarter of that is 125g'. I guess that's my Dad's training 1 - my brain 0.

    When it comes to work, drinking water systems, then it's mostly metric. Why mess about with gallons and pounds, when 1L of water = 1kg and 1,000 L = 1 tonne = 1m³. Even if pipe sizes are an unholy mess of a horrific bodge between 3 or 4 systems.

    I worked for my Dad for a few years before he died, and we whiled many a happy hour away insulting each other. From the poor quality of handwriting to his obsession with gallons, when clearly litres is the only acceptable measure for water. Beer comes in pints, by the way, and always will!

    I even went to the point of working out water tank sizes in bushels, to prove my point. He just saw it as a challenge, to try and get that size written into someone's building spec.

    Anyway, the result of all that rambling is that I propose a proper British compromise. None of this nasty Continental absolutism!

    1. Where's there's an accepted standard that almost everyone agrees on, use that. So altitude should be in feet. These are the easy ones.

    2. Where we're working with proper science, then we're almost certainly going to be using SI. Anyone who wants to read that should be used to it by now. Give the figures the scientists do, don't bother translating, people can work it out if they want to.

    3. Similarly, if you're doing calculations, use the most logical (almost always SI).

    4. However this is a mainly British + various Colonials site, so I think a bit of pandering to the prejudices of us grumpy old gits can be allowed. Pints is pints (for beer and milk). I prefer miles, and would prefer you stick to them, but converting from km won't kill me. However people are mostly imperial. I still think most people in the UK give height in feet, and weight in stone. We could compromise on pounds for weight, because Johnny-Foreigner probably doesn't know stone, but can convert from pounds easily, although once we make that compromise, we're all converting except the Americans, so kg is probably acceptable.

    Then you only need give both where things are unclear, or you've gone under your word-count, and want to spend extra time in the pub, but are paid by the word and don't want to lose out.

    Hope that helps. Sorry for blithering on so long.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could the SPB (all hail their boffinery!) have some HTML5/js-based-voodoo that would do (as DrXym also suggests) conversions on-the-fly?

    Obviously, American annoying SI units by default, with mousey-over conversion to preferred batshit-crazy-impractical system

  39. Richard Gray 1
    Coat

    Its obvious..

    mm for small stuff up to a few cm, then change to inches upto about a foot and a half,

    then change to Metres upto about 2000M when we change back to miles.

    with liquids, a drop, teaspoon, a splash, tablespoon, glug, a nip, a glass (the standard for a night out I only had a glass of wine one glass multiple fills), a half (for the girls) a pint followed by bottles (wine \spirits) litres for the soft drinks, then to gallons

    for weight, grams, from a half a pound to a couple of pounds, then to Kg, followed by heavy, Bugger me and finally F*** ME!

    any other weights and measures are irrelevent

    I don't see what all the fuss is about..

    I do remember selling 80m rolls of 4inch photographic paper so maybe that explains it.

  40. ukgnome

    As long as you provide a link to THE REG ONLINE STANDARDS CONVERTER then I don't mind.

    Although when it comes to distance can you use the simplified version of.

    Closer, close, quite far, very far, a long long way.

    1. Matthew 3

      RE: Closer, close, quite far, very far, a long long way.

      "These are SMALL. The ones out there are FAR AWAY..."

  41. bill 36
    Thumb Up

    just go for it

    The conversions are easy to remember and a little bit of mental arithmetic( who remembers that?)

    80km =50mph

    1600 metres= 1 mile

    4.5 litres= 1 Brit gallon

    10C = 50F, 40C = fuckin hot

    1 litre = 1 & 3/4 pints

    5 litres = pissed

    So some of these are approximate but do you really care?

  42. ChrisBoy

    What about the Wales?

    Isn't Wales the simplest standard of measurement? As in "would fit 100 times into Wales" or "is three times the size of Wales"... just re-adapt to "is four times as long as the word 'Wales' printed in 12pt Times or "is six times faster than an object that could reach Cardiff from Swansea in the time it takes the average tourist to learn how to pronounce that place that ends with gogogoth".

    Much simpler, and no different between UK and US units because there's (luckily) only one Wales.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: What about the Wales?

      I vote for areas in Wales and volumes in whales - what could go wrong?

  43. burrhall
    Thumb Up

    Way to go

    Time to ditch the old except where common usage really is common and unambiguous e.g. Pints & thousands of feet

    ... and it will also fix the nonsense of US & Imperial measures ( gallons, pounds, ... ) being different and therefore uncertain even though they have the same name.

    It's time for a bit of sanity.

  44. Ryan Clark

    Yes please

    and lose dpi when talking about resolution.

  45. Dan Paul

    Any more American Bashers need to vent your spleens? Create your own topic!

    Lester, is it really necessary to let the American bashing to continue unmoderated?

    When I make comments in any forum, I try to make an effort to be reasonably respectful (unless I am personally attacked). Seems like any time anyone posts here with any Americanized spelling, topic, unit of measurement, etc. somebody feels the need to go on the offensive and bash away.

    As far as Fahrenheit versus Centigrade/Celcius, I prefer Fahrenheit and all imperial style (Americanized) measurements. I was told by a professor once that what makes a meausrement accurate is the number of dvisions in the scale

    IMHO Screw Metric anything. The original reason for it's formal adoption in Europe was to create barriers to trade with the US, just like ISO ratings were. There is no compelling reason to change. Metric serves no better purpose than English/Imperial measurement.

    Let the downvotes begin......

    1. Glenn Booth

      Re: Any more American Bashers need to vent your spleens?

      > I was told by a professor once that what makes a meausrement accurate is the number of dvisions in the scale

      Said Professor was wrong. Putting more divisions on the scale makes it more precise, not more accurate.

      There's a difference.

    2. Daniel 18

      Re: Any more American Bashers need to vent your spleens? Create your own topic!

      The reason the metric system was adopted in Europe was that it made no sense for each country to have its own measurement system, all different. It was adopted by the French in 1795, and by virtue of its obvious advantages, gradually spread through Euorpe.

      By 1875 two thirds of Europe had adopted the metric system. At that time it is extremely unlikely that trade with the United States was a significant consideration. At that point, the only major European countries not using metric measurement were Britain and Russia.

      There are now only three coutries that don't (visibly) use metric, and of them, the US is the only highly industrialized one. Most US industry is, of course, converted to metric, but they don't mention the fact to consumers. Given growing global trade, metric measurement continues to be the best way to go.

  46. Alan Esworthy
    Trollface

    Meh

    I grew up with English units and learned Metric as well at an early age. I work with both and can think in either. If I were uncharitable I'd say that caring deeply about this question is a symptom of mental deficiency. But I am charitable so I'll say that caring deeply about this question simply a likely error in prioritisation.

  47. Steve Hosgood
    Pint

    Metric all the way please

    As many others have commented - S.I makes far more sense for a tech-orientated website such as this. Don't bother with silly exceptions either like pints of beer or miles.

    And certainly not stones for body weight - I mean, really, is anyone who's actually keeping note of their weight still doing that in stones? Weighing machines in the gyms and leisure centres of the UK have been in kilos for years, likewise the ones in hospitals and doctors' surgeries.

    I agree with the poster above who pointed out that we ought to switch to having the line on our beer glasses redrawn at 500mL, but to keep the size of the glassware the same. A proper head on our real ale without being short-measured would be a pleasure. I hear that certain pub chains teach their staff how to game the beer "top up" law so as to try and serve deliberate short measures wherever possible (to the pub chain's profit of course).

    But - hey - this is getting off topic since it's not common for El. Reg stories to be about beer anyway.

    So I chuck my vote in with the "just do it in S.I metric units" brigade.

    Oh, 53 yrs old, 1.72 m tall, 66 kg in case you were wondering.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Metric all the way please

      I'm 45, 6 ft 2 and 13 stone, but I suspect the units thing would come between us.

  48. Big_Boomer Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    SI for Science, whatever you like for everything else

    LOHAN should be entirely SI as it's Science. The same should go for any other Scientific articles on The Reg. But, if the article is about exploding Bulgarian Airbags then any appropriate (or even inappropriate) measure is fine. Oh, and ASU (American Standard Units) are not the same as Imperial. Some are the same, some are not.

    Me I quite happily work in whatever units are needed. If I need to convert, I convert. It's kinda like the EU where lots of different languages just makes it more interesting. Efficiency is VASTLY overrated.

    As for NASA, well they measure everything based on the width of 2 horses arses. <LOL>

  49. Glenn Booth
    FAIL

    LOHAN is science?

    > LOHAN should be entirely SI as it's Science

    LOHAN is science in the same way that Megan Fox is ugly.

    LOHAN is brilliant, inspired, and great fun. But it ain't science.

  50. Martin 47

    Of course everything should be in SI units, that includes aircraft height, speed, etc etc Its not as if any pilot is going to use a reg article to navigate by is it?

    Right I am just off down the builders merchant as I need a couple of metres of 4 by 2

  51. Elmo Fudd
    Boffin

    Personally it's tire sizes that drive me bonkers, just bought 4 snow tires (Canada),

    225-70-15' s -- 225 mm wide, 70% ratio for 15 INCH rims

    Is it just me that finds this absurd?

    1. Daniel 18

      Yup.

      That should definitely be 225-70-38.

  52. DDS112097
    Thumb Up

    Meters versus Yards

    What the hell is the point of Google? For Pete's sake we are all internet savy, I think we can convert from metric.

  53. oceanhippie

    yes, know more

    Knots/Nautical Miles, and especially the Beaufort scale, yes.

    In the pub any unit, providing the sig figs and errors are smaller than the jesticulations of the speaker, are not only acceptable but preferred.

    But for anything that matters, SI or interchageble eqivs, kg for weight, Celsius for Kelvin are just fine - nobody will mess them up.

    Pints, just as soon as a self cooling pint glass, of comparable price and Northern Territories proof. In fact Territorian proof is

    created, I will gladly revert to my Pinty instincts but till then I'll keep to smaller ones that stay cold longer.

    Oh dear did I mention the mass/weight thing oops..

  54. David Green
    Stop

    Ima 'Merkin

    I have no idea what we Americans' resistance to the metric system is about. It'd sure make things a helluva lot simpler. I can't believe that even NASA still hasn't made the switch. We're a bunch of cunts.

    1. Daniel 18

      Re: Ima 'Merkin

      NASA's current excuse is that it's too expensive... but that's a one time cost. They've already lost one Mars orbiter due to non-metric measurements, and it will keep on costing them, unpredictably, in big ways and small, until they clean up their measurements.

  55. Jonathon Desmond

    Use the standard units as internationally agreed....

    I think I'm with those who say use the units that are internationally agreed for measurement in that field.

    That is:

    NM and Knots for nautical measures (two of the few non-SI units of measurement that make perfect sense)

    Flight Levels for Civil Aircraft altitudes

    SI for everything else.. Even rocketry.... after all space begins at 100km. Anyone else notice that SpaceX announce in SI? No NASA cock-ups for them!

    1. kwhitefoot

      Re: Use the standard units as internationally agreed....

      I wonder if SpaceX using SI has anything to do with Elon MusK not being American? South Africa was officially metric by 1971.

  56. Daniel 18

    Good measurement is metric.

    Every time you see something that is about ships or planes that mentions miles, you have to ask yourself 'is that a statute mile or nautical mile?'. The same goes for aircraft. And there are at least seven or eight defintions of 'ton', more than that of 'barrel', two common sizes of fluid ounce, pint, quart, and gallon; several definitions of non-fluid ounce, and the mess goes on and on.

    And the mental 'clunk' you get by having extraneous, ambigous measurements thrown into any account is just annoying, not to mention the wrong numbers trying to settle into your brain.

    SI, only, all the way.

  57. Dive Fox
    Trollface

    Let's stick with Imperial!

    I'm an Imperial fan at home - my car gets 300 hectares on a single tank of kerosene, and that's how I want it to stay!

    1. kwhitefoot

      Are you using it for ploughing?

  58. Gordon 8
    Megaphone

    El Reg

    I guess the staff @ El Reg were too busy to enforce Register Standard units.

    Guess they are down at the pub drinking their 1.09 grapefruits of beer.

    Register standard units or Metric please.

  59. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Coat

    Cubits!

    They were good enough for the Bible.

    (Sorry, just wandered over from the Paul Broun article)

  60. l353a1

    Use of SI units

    I would love to see SI units used in The Register. Imperial units are not fit for purpose and the sooner we eliminate them the better. If you want a good example of how it works in practice see New Scientist, who have been using them in a British publication for decades.

    I would add that if you do use SI PLEASE get the typography right.

    1. There should be a space between the number and the unit, e.g. 50 km or 20 kg not 50km and 20kg.

    2. Use spaces (ideally a printer's thin space) as the digit grouping symbol, not commas.

    3. You can have 4 digits before you need a digit grouping symbol, which occurs after every third digit, e.g. it is OK to write 5000 km instead of 5 000 km.

    4. Note that there is nothing wrong with using centimetres. They are NOT deprecated!

    5. Note that there are two symbols for the litre, so it's best to pick one and use it consistently. The original one is the lower case l but the upper case L is also allowed. In my view the upper case L is less likely to be confused with the digit 1.

    There is a useful style guide on the NIST site at http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/checklist.html

    It's intended as a checklist for technical articles so it's on the picky side but it covers all the issues.

    Regards, Blaise F Egan

  61. Michael Dunn
    Coat

    SI

    I'm all for SI, makes everyday matters easier to deal with. Now that I'm retired, and do a bit of cooking, would it be possible to ban the use of the "cup" as a measure in recipes.

    These Merkin recipes quite commonly mix cups, or portions of cups, of both materials with voids (chickpeas, for instance) with liquids; but I ask you, how do you measure one third of a cup of butter? Just do it all in grams, with ccs for the liquids.

    Right, I'll get my chef's apron.

  62. Dalek Dave

    We do not live in a metric world.

    24 hours a day, seven days a week, we turn 360 degrees and still know what a pint should be.

    The metric system was invented by unemployed French coiffures after the revolution, so is obviously crap.

    You only know a man when you have walked 1.609 km in his moccasins.

    1. Steve Hosgood
      FAIL

      How many times do we hear this tabloid rubbish being churned out?

      It's not French - how many times does it have to be pointed out? Only the Daily Mail thinks it was French, or forced on Europe by Napoleon or various other crap.

      Metric as a recognisable concept was first promoted the Royal Society in London in the 1680s. Over a hundred years later French king Louis XVI ruled that it should become the official system of France to replace the ridiculous hodge-podge of systems being used in his kingdom at the time (every town had its own variant).

  63. Mr Michael Strelitz
    Thumb Down

    Imperial only please. They are natural and God given - like £sd. The currency going metric in 1971 resulted in enormous cost and inflation with no tangible benefits. £sd forced kids to learn a bit more arithmetic. Leave SI units to science.

    1. Steve Hosgood
      WTF?

      Neither natural nor God-given

      This *is* science! The inflation of the early 1970s was nothing to do with Britain switching to decimal currency - that's why everyone else suffered it too. It was mostly caused by the "Oil Crisis".

      £sd was a hideous mess consisting of a mutated form of a heathen currency forced upon the oppressed masses by the iron heel of the Roman Empire 2000 years earlier. That it took us all that time to decide to get rid of it should be a matter of national shame.

      LSD on the other hand was much more fun......

  64. John Sturdy
    Mushroom

    Keep the real international units

    The imperial system is the true international one --- let's not help the spread of this French nonsense, based on an inaccurate attempt at measuring the earth!

  65. Robert Moore
    Thumb Up

    As a Canadian

    I say metric, all the way!

  66. Martin Budden Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    SI units are the logical way to go.

    Do we really have to keep measuring length according to some dead king's nose-to-finger and weight according to Arabic silver dirhams (I don't see many of those in my loose change)???

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