Saturday, January 13, 2007

Guess who is going Metric!

What do Burma, Liberia and the United States of America have in common? These are the only three countries which still measure the distance in miles!!!

With key allies like Burma and Liberia the U.S. has so far maintained its bulwark against the tide of the Metric system (or SI) of weights and measures. But, not for long. This strategic allinace seems to be crumbling. NASA has recently decided to fly the next moon mission entirely in metric. Foot, pound and gallon will be replaced by meter, kilogram, and litre. This was inevitable, as all other countries involved in space missions work in Metric. This leaves any space experts in Burma and Liberia on their own! What a terrible way to end this long time alliance. This may be the first time that the U.S. is actually following rather than leading the rest of the world in the scientific arena.

Interestingly, the foot was based on the size of the foot of one of the kings of England. That is no way to run a space program, based on a dead king's shoe size!

It will be a long time before we see full metricanization of the U.S. When asked why the U.S. is still resisting the conversion to the metric system, a top U.S. administration official said, "we are not dragging our feet. We are moving towards metric inch-by-inch."

For NASA though, it would mean a lot more km to fly to the moon than they were used to in miles (1 mile = 1.6 km). And no NASA scientist can now claim "my mile is bigger than your km", the same way as the U.S. General Boykin in Somalia had declared "my God is bigger than theirs".

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