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Old 28th December 2017, 05:58 AM   #1
alexi_drago
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Metric Vs imperial

Inanother topic - huffpost area man uses basic math to work something out
Someone has brought up usage of imperial units in the US, it is strange that in the UK we use miles for distance and stones/pounds for people's weight and feet/inches for people's height (and there are other examples) but at school, university and work I've only ever worked with metric and have no idea how to calculate or convert imperial units.
For example, occasionally at work I have to calculate the weights of blocks given the dimensions in mm and the density in kg/m³ and to me that's done very easily, how easily can that be done by someone used to imperial units given dimensions in feet/inches/fractions of inch and density in pounds/foot³?
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Old 28th December 2017, 06:08 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by alexi_drago View Post
Inanother topic - huffpost area man uses basic math to work something out
Someone has brought up usage of imperial units in the US, it is strange that in the UK we use miles for distance and stones/pounds for people's weight and feet/inches for people's height (and there are other examples) but at school, university and work I've only ever worked with metric and have no idea how to calculate or convert imperial units.
For example, occasionally at work I have to calculate the weights of blocks given the dimensions in mm and the density in kg/m³ and to me that's done very easily, how easily can that be done by someone used to imperial units given dimensions in feet/inches/fractions of inch and density in pounds/foot³?
The process is a bit tedious, but it can be done with accuracy.

What I do is convert the feet, inches and fractions of an inch into decimal feet, then plug-and-chug. Once upon a time, I used a spread-sheet to make the conversions that way I could explicitly see each step.
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Old 28th December 2017, 06:17 AM   #3
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Thanks, I didn't doubt it could be done with accuracy, one thought I had was to convert everything into fractions but again, tedious, and wondered if there were particular methods to working with imperial units for calculating things like volumes.
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Old 28th December 2017, 06:43 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by alexi_drago View Post
Thanks, I didn't doubt it could be done with accuracy, one thought I had was to convert everything into fractions but again, tedious, and wondered if there were particular methods to working with imperial units for calculating things like volumes.
The way I do such things is:

Measurement Value > Feet - Inches - Inch Fractions

To convert the above value to Decimal Feet use:

Decimal Feet Measurement = (Feet) + (Inches)/12 + (Inch Fractions)/12

For example:

Measurement Value = 12 feet, 5 3/16 inches

Then, ...

Decimal Feet Measurement = (12) + (5)/12 + (3/16)/12

Decimal Feet Measurement = (12.000) + (0.417) + (0.016)

Decimal Feet = 12.432

I hope this helps.
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Old 28th December 2017, 06:56 AM   #5
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Thanks again, is that a common method and is it common historically?
And are there measuring instruments (rulers tapes micrometers etc) that measure decimal feet?
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Old 28th December 2017, 07:07 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by alexi_drago View Post
Thanks again, is that a common method and is it common historically?
And are there measuring instruments (rulers tapes micrometers etc) that measure decimal feet?
Yes. We used them all the time in the oil drilling game.
They are available. But why bother? Everybody has a calculator on them if they have a cell phone.
(A hint for conversions; do the calculations in whatever units you are given, THEN convert to whatever you need. Helps prevent inaccuracies from cerrping in)
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Old 28th December 2017, 07:09 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by alexi_drago View Post
Thanks again, is that a common method and is it common historically?
And are there measuring instruments (rulers tapes micrometers etc) that measure decimal feet?
Of course.

When I am on the job, I often use a tape measure where one side is graduated in feet, inches, and fractions of an inch and the other side of the tape is graduated in feet and hundredths of a foot.
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Last edited by Crossbow; 28th December 2017 at 07:56 AM. Reason: Typo correction
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Old 28th December 2017, 07:13 AM   #8
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As an engineer in the US, we have to work with both Imperial and SI units. We have several suppliers in the US that will use Imperial units for fabrication drawings, and then our customers are mostly international and require interface dimensions in SI. Certainly, the metric system is much easier to use and requires less rote memorization for conversion. Crossbow's method above is correct and how I deal with the units.

There are 12 inches in a foot, three feet in a yard, 5280 feet in a mile. It's not the most useful system. Then you get into pound force and pound mass, the use of slugs (which most Americans are not even aware of). I wish the US would have followed through with the conversion to metric in the '70s.
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Old 28th December 2017, 08:38 AM   #9
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I can do a lot of conversions reasonably accurately in my head. That said, I have apps on both my phone and PC that will do it simply and accurately.

A British ex-pat co-worker taught me a neat trick for C to F: Double it. Subtract 10%. Add 32. That's actually exactly correct. The other direction is a bit more complicated.
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Old 28th December 2017, 10:52 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Monza View Post
As an engineer in the US, we have to work with both Imperial and SI units. We have several suppliers in the US that will use Imperial units for fabrication drawings, and then our customers are mostly international and require interface dimensions in SI. Certainly, the metric system is much easier to use and requires less rote memorization for conversion. Crossbow's method above is correct and how I deal with the units.

There are 12 inches in a foot, three feet in a yard, 5280 feet in a mile. It's not the most useful system. Then you get into pound force and pound mass, the use of slugs (which most Americans are not even aware of). I wish the US would have followed through with the conversion to metric in the '70s.
I think that really depends on what you're working on or working with. Joinery/carpentry for example is far easier and more intuitive with inches/fractions/ratios than metric. Conversions between measurements and working a lot with mathematics, metric rules the roost.
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Old 28th December 2017, 11:27 AM   #11
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When I'm King of the World (KotW) (TM), we'll stop counting on our fingers and use Octal. It makes much more sense and common fractions work perfectly.
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Old 28th December 2017, 05:34 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
When I'm King of the World (KotW) (TM), we'll stop counting on our fingers and use Octal. It makes much more sense and common fractions work perfectly.
Make that hex. It is what computers convert their binary to when they cannot convert to decimal.
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Old 29th December 2017, 05:44 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Make that hex. It is what computers convert their binary to when they cannot convert to decimal.
There's a few reasons hex is used, each hex digit corresponds directly to 4 bits so if you know the bit patterns for 0-F it's easy to go between binary and hex in your head, not so easy with decimal and binary, also hex just requires 2 digits per byte and is easier to read and input than binary or decimal which is why you get hex editors. Things like addressing and memory maps make much more sense in hex too.
If you're working with 24 or 32 bit colour values, each pair of hex digits correspond to the RGB channels, it would be a nightmare trying to work with those colour values in decimal.
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Old 29th December 2017, 08:07 AM   #14
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Hex requires new number digits. Using alpha characters would confuse the public. For octal, we just need to teach people that thumbs are not fingers. Or amputate the pinky from every newborn for a couple of generations. It's only useful for extending when you hold a teacup anyway.

The one "Imperial" measure I strongly prefer is Fahrenheit. The range of zero to 100 nicely approximates the normal range of temperatures in temperate climes. And the gradations in Celsius are too coarse. Anyhow, Celsius himself wanted zero to be hot and 100 cold.
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Old 29th December 2017, 11:21 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Monza View Post
As an engineer in the US, we have to work with both Imperial and SI units. We have several suppliers in the US that will use Imperial units for fabrication drawings, and then our customers are mostly international and require interface dimensions in SI. Certainly, the metric system is much easier to use and requires less rote memorization for conversion. Crossbow's method above is correct and how I deal with the units.

There are 12 inches in a foot, three feet in a yard, 5280 feet in a mile. It's not the most useful system. Then you get into pound force and pound mass, the use of slugs (which most Americans are not even aware of). I wish the US would have followed through with the conversion to metric in the '70s.
The one thing Jimmy Carter got right and it unfortunately went nowhere. I even remember some right-wingers claiming conversion to metric was a Communist plot. I think it's slightly more likely that the opposition to it was a Communist plot to keep us handicapped by using a crappy system of measurement.
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Old 29th December 2017, 01:20 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by alexi_drago View Post
There's a few reasons hex is used, each hex digit corresponds directly to 4 bits so if you know the bit patterns for 0-F it's easy to go between binary and hex in your head, not so easy with decimal and binary, also hex just requires 2 digits per byte and is easier to read and input than binary or decimal which is why you get hex editors. Things like addressing and memory maps make much more sense in hex too.
If you're working with 24 or 32 bit colour values, each pair of hex digits correspond to the RGB channels, it would be a nightmare trying to work with those colour values in decimal.
And hex fits better than octal because one byte fits exactly in 2 hex digits, a 16-bit word in 4 hex digits and so on. There's one notable exception: PDP-11 machine language. The PDP-11 had 8 registers and 8 addressing modes which were each coded as a sequence of 3 bits, so writing out the value of an instruction in octal neatly gave you one octal digit for the (source or target) register and one octal digit for the addressing mode.
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Old 29th December 2017, 01:32 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Hex requires new number digits. Using alpha characters would confuse the public. For octal, we just need to teach people that thumbs are not fingers. Or amputate the pinky from every newborn for a couple of generations. It's only useful for extending when you hold a teacup anyway.

The one "Imperial" measure I strongly prefer is Fahrenheit. The range of zero to 100 nicely approximates the normal range of temperatures in temperate climes. And the gradations in Celsius are too coarse. Anyhow, Celsius himself wanted zero to be hot and 100 cold.
I do not see it as a major issue in inventing new digits. As for counting on fingers you just count using your joints on your fingers and thumb (5 X 3) + your hand joint of your left hand. No need to use your right hand for anything other than pointing.
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Old 29th December 2017, 01:38 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by alexi_drago View Post
Inanother topic - huffpost area man uses basic math to work something out
Someone has brought up usage of imperial units in the US, it is strange that in the UK we use miles for distance and stones/pounds for people's weight and feet/inches for people's height (and there are other examples) but at school, university and work I've only ever worked with metric and have no idea how to calculate or convert imperial units.
For example, occasionally at work I have to calculate the weights of blocks given the dimensions in mm and the density in kg/m³ and to me that's done very easily, how easily can that be done by someone used to imperial units given dimensions in feet/inches/fractions of inch and density in pounds/foot³?
I'm old enough to have learned both, but in practice it is metric all the way.
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Old 29th December 2017, 01:48 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
I'm old enough to have learned both, but in practice it is metric all the way.
I was in school when President Carter tried to change us over to that European mumbo jumbo metric system. I took pride in doing my part to see that stupid ass system was sent packing. The rest of the world should just go American. That crap system never sent a man to the moon or stopped the Germans.
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Old 29th December 2017, 02:04 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I do not see it as a major issue in inventing new digits. As for counting on fingers you just count using your joints on your fingers and thumb (5 X 3) + your hand joint of your left hand. No need to use your right hand for anything other than pointing.
You have 3 joints on your thumb?
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Old 29th December 2017, 02:09 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by rdaneel View Post
You have 3 joints on your thumb?
Everyone does. Some are unaware of it. Without it, your thumb would not be opposable.
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Old 29th December 2017, 02:13 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
Everyone does. Some are unaware of it. Without it, your thumb would not be opposable.
Ack, Nevermind then.
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Old 29th December 2017, 02:18 PM   #23
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Please, each hand obviously comes equipped for a 4 digit magnitude with a sign bit, two hands have 8 bit magnitude, 1 sign, and 1 overflow/underflow. Directly translatable into hexadecimal.

As for feet and yards, they've been defined in terms of meters since 1959. So, we're all using the metric system anyway, just with added obfuscation.
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Old 29th December 2017, 02:32 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by rdaneel View Post
Ack, Nevermind then.
It isn't exactly obvious compared to the other digits on one's hand. It is, however easy to demonstrate. Using only the two obvious thumb joints, touch each of your other fingertips on one of either hand, left or right. One cannot without using the thumbs third joint.

It's an odd bit of anatomical trivia. What I found odd about it was that even making the attempt using just the two obvious thumb joints formed my hand into a pose I have seen before, in chimpanzees. Try it, it's a bit strange. To me, it reinforced our common ancestor.
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Old 29th December 2017, 09:54 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
And hex fits better than octal because one byte fits exactly in 2 hex digits, a 16-bit word in 4 hex digits and so on. There's one notable exception: PDP-11 machine language. The PDP-11 had 8 registers and 8 addressing modes which were each coded as a sequence of 3 bits, so writing out the value of an instruction in octal neatly gave you one octal digit for the (source or target) register and one octal digit for the addressing mode.
There's another exception. The UNIVAC (subsequently Sperry Univac, then Sperry, now UNISYS) mainframes (1100 series) had 36-bit words; octal was always used for binary data. Neither hex nor octal is an exact fit, of course, and the design is so old (yes, it's still used, I believe, in a few shrinking markets) that hex was unheard of anyway. Original character set was 6 bit (no lower case); "bytes" are 9 bit.

Did quite a bit of assembly programming on them back in the late 80s, including a stint working on the first C compiler for them.
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Old 29th December 2017, 10:26 PM   #26
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Oh come on it's not our fault, pirates stole our meter.

No seriously in 1793 an official "Meter" was sent from Paris to Thomas Jefferson, then the Secretary of State and a fan of the metric system. But, through various shenanigans involving storms and shipwrecks and pirates, the Meter never made it to us.

(FTR, I'm a proponent of the United States adopting the metric system.)
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Old 30th December 2017, 02:22 AM   #27
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Metre, please.
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Old 30th December 2017, 03:03 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by fagin View Post
Metre, please.

Well we can try it in iambic, but I'm not sure that's going to help the discussion.
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Old 30th December 2017, 03:09 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by fagin View Post
Metre, please.
You say "litre", I say "quart".
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Old 30th December 2017, 03:24 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
You say "litre", I say "quart".
You say quart, I say 750 milliliters.
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Old 30th December 2017, 03:26 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by CORed View Post
The one thing Jimmy Carter got right and it unfortunately went nowhere. I even remember some right-wingers claiming conversion to metric was a Communist plot. I think it's slightly more likely that the opposition to it was a Communist plot to keep us handicapped by using a crappy system of measurement.
He got more right than that but the Hate Carter campaign worked magnificently.
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Old 30th December 2017, 03:30 AM   #32
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For what it's worth, with the wind chill it's going to be 40 degrees below zero in my area this weekend.

C or F, you say? Doesn't matter, they're the same!
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Old 30th December 2017, 10:00 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Make that hex. It is what computers convert their binary to when they cannot convert to decimal.
All the microprocessors and micro-controllers currently used in volume exclusively use binary because they can only efficiently and accurately store electrical or magnetic fields in two states. Decimal, hexadecimal, octal, etc, are only used by the humans who input numeric values to the computers, where they are promptly stored and manipulated by the micro in binary.
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Old 30th December 2017, 11:15 AM   #34
WhatRoughBeast
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
When I'm King of the World (KotW) (TM), we'll stop counting on our fingers and use Octal. It makes much more sense and common fractions work perfectly.
I can tell you don't cook much. 1/3 (or 2/3) of a cup is a "common fraction".
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Old 30th December 2017, 12:13 PM   #35
cullennz
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Nautical measurements have always done my head in

Knots. Fathoms. Leagues etc
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Old 30th December 2017, 01:49 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Octavo View Post
You say quart, I say 750 milliliters.
That's a fifth, not a quart.
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Old 30th December 2017, 02:34 PM   #37
rjh01
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Let us compare the two systems. Starting with length.
Imperial
12 inches make a foot
3 feet make a yard
1760 yards make a mile


Metric
1000mm make a meter
100cm make a meter
1000 meters make a kilometer

All common measurements. Yet one uses almost random numbers to convert and the other uses powers of 10. That is one advantage of metric. I could use almost any type of measurement and my argument would still work. Then how do you express a length? In imperial it might 2 feet 5 inches. In metric it would 1.24 meters.
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Old 30th December 2017, 04:14 PM   #38
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No it would be 73 and a bit cm.
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Old 31st December 2017, 01:17 AM   #39
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I was raised on Imperial, but science at school/Uni was all metric so I'm happy in both systems. Apart from temperatures, where °F no longer mean very much to me. BBC World News slowly flips the numbers in C and F for their N American weather forecasts and I'm always a little surprised at the C-to-F conversion.
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Old 31st December 2017, 01:46 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I was raised on Imperial, but science at school/Uni was all metric so I'm happy in both systems.
Yes, their first victory is getting you to state you are happy in both systems. Stop being a pawn.
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