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probably going offlist on the metric system etc. (long, combined answer



I don't think the two systems of referring to directions in animals are
comparable to the two remaining systems of measurements...

----- Original Message -----
From: "philidor11" <philidor11@snet.net>
To: <mike@tecc.co.uk>
Cc: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2001 1:18 AM
Subject: Re: CRANIAL-CAUDAL vs ANTERO-POSTERIOR


> <On the related subject of metric vs. imperial, given that we all agree
> (don't we?) that metric _has_ to be The Right Thing...>
>
> Well, no, I think it is A Choice.

Everywhere else in the world, the imperial system is considered a living
fossil...

> There is no intrinsic superiority of a
> meter compared to a yard or a foot.

True, but see below...

> In fact, I'm wondering why hands as a
> measurement apply only to horses these days and why rods haven't stayed in
> use right along with acres.

See, yards and feet will disappear the same way.

> The second part of your statement, about not having a 'feel' for metric
> measurement, is relevant.

Yes, but the 'feel' will come, just like it has come everywhere else in the
world.

----- Original Message -----
From: "philidor11" <philidor11@snet.net>
To: <hunt@u.washington.edu>; <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2001 1:39 AM
Subject: Re: CRANIAL-CAUDAL vs ANTERO-POSTERIOR

> <...and to this day, when I want to estimate whether my car is safely 30
> feet away from a stop sign, I have to estimate it in meters and then
convert
> it to feet in my head
> (drives my boyfriend crazy).>
>
> First, notice that you insist on thinking in a given unit because that
unit
> has significance for you, even though it would be more convenient to use a
> different unit

in that part of the globe.

> Second, notice that your boyfriend, who did not have the
> experiences that changed your concepts of 'basic' units, doesn't have
> immediate, instinctive empathy with your ratiocination.
> That's why I could never think in a language other than English;  I
couldn't
> be flexible enough to change my habits of thought no matter how much
> exposure I had, because the words just didn't get a response from me.  I,
> too, did a continuous translation to what I found most meaningful.
> So, agreed.

When it comes to science, I seem to think in English a large part of the
time, because practically all written science is in English. It works...

(How's my English, BTW? Do I make systematical mistakes? Please tell me...)

----- Original Message -----
From: "philidor11" <philidor11@snet.net>
To: <stephenbowden@home.com>
Cc: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2001 3:57 AM
Subject: Re: CRANIAL-CAUDAL vs ANTERO-POSTERIOR

> Stephen Bowden argued:
> <It is a choice, but the metric system, as a whole, does have intrinsic
> advantages over the Imperial (as it is known in the UK) or British (as it
is
> known in the US) system.  The two most obvious advantages are:
>
> scaling - everything goes in factors of 10 or powers thereof: 10
millimetres
> in a centimetre, 10 centimetres in a decimetre, 10 decimetres in a metre
and
> so on;...>
>
> Me, interrupting:
> Unless you're counting on your fingers, what difference does it make
whether
> you're counting by 10's or 12's?  And you do have practice counting by
12's.
> How many hours on your clock?  (Even if you're using a 24 hour clock
that's
> still 2 12's.)  How many months in the year?
> The French Revolution did try to switch to a 10 month year, and, if I
> remember rightly, a day with some multiple of 10 for minutes in an hour
and
> hour in a day.  Even a government prepared to use the guillotine to limit
> discussion arbitrarily was unable to change the 6/12 habits of thought.
I'm
> wondering why units of measurement proved to be a better sell than units
of
> time.

Because you're not _counting_ by 10's or 12's. You're _calculating_, and
this in languages that have decimal number systems.

> Anyway, guess if it's good enough for the Babylonians, why mess with a
good
> thing?

Heh heh. It had to be good enough for the Babylonians, who had a decimal
number system like all Indo-European, Afro-Asiatic (including Semitic
[including Babylonian]) and most other languages, because they had
(indirectly) taken it from the Sumerians, whose language had a hexagesimal
number system (the words for 1 and 60 even sounded the same, and the
cuneiform character for 60 was just a bigger version of that for 1). It
proved to be good enough, but it's far from, say, optimal.

> HP Bowden also notes 'relatedness' as a metric advantage; for example, a
> cubic metre of water is 1,000 kilograms, and other relationships among
> measurements (as well as fall per second per second) are also factors of
10.
> Contrary to my prior observation, he argues that multiplication/division
by
> 10 is easier because you need 'just keep track of the zeros'.
> I have some practice with keeping track of zeros.  Without a calculator,
try
> to tell someone that 'maybe 0.3% of the 2.5 million adults in the State
are
> current pathological gamblers, based on a telephone survey.'  Before I
> worked out a better way to explain the concept, someone responded that 25
> million pathological gamblers was a lot.  I gave the number as quoted
above
> to a recently hired (non-research) analyst.  He asked about treatment
> programs for the 75,000 pathological gamblers.
> Really, working with factors of 10 is not as easy as it might sound.

It is as easy as it sounds after 4 years of elementary school, in my
experience.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Darryl Jones" <dinoguy@sympatico.ca>
To: <philidor11@snet.net>
Cc: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2001 2:55 PM
Subject: Re: CRANIAL-CAUDAL vs ANTERO-POSTERIOR

> At 09:57 PM 3/15/2001, philidor11@snet.net wrote:
> >Me, interrupting:
> >Unless you're counting on your fingers, what difference does it make
> >whether you're counting by 10's or 12's?  And you do have practice
> >counting by 12's. How many hours on your clock?  (Even if you're using a
> >24 hour clock that's still 2 12's.)  How many months in the year?
>
> Most people are familiar with a base ten system.  We use it for money.

This is it! The UK has managed to adopt the decimal system for money in 1973
(as the last country in the world). So I'm sure this will work with the
metric system, too.

As my sister has told me, the (&$§&&%&§ IMHO) Harry Potter books make great
fun of the old UK system -- in Hogwarts there are "Seventeen silver Sickles
to a Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle, it's easy enough."

> Speaking from experience, fractions is one of the hardest concepts for
> students to learn.  It is much easier to learn the decimal system than to
> do fractions.

I can confirm this from experience.

> >[...]
> >Really, working with factors of 10 is not as easy as it might sound.
> >I do also think that the ability to respond to the significance, the
'feel'
> >of the amounts in the current system is important to people.
>
> I disagree.  Try adding up a bunch of inches and fractions of inches when
> you are building something.  Now try adding up a bunch of different
lengths
> in mm and cm.  As long as you put the decimal place in the right spot, it
> is the same adding most people have done since their first or second year
> of schooling.  Nobody said all of the math was going to be easy.  Metric
> brings a uniform method of comparison.  One prefix is ALWAYS ten units
> above its predecessor.  This is a great deal easier to work with than 12
> inches to a foot, 3 feet to a yard, 5.5 yards in a rod, 4 rods in a chain,
> 10 chains in a furlong, 8 furlongs in a mile.  That doesn't even include
> hands, lines, and leagues and that's just linear measurement.

5.5 yards in a rod? My god!!! How can anyone possibly invent this??? :-o :-o
:-o

1000 attometers in a femtometer (give or take a few Planck lengths ;-) ),
1000 femtometers in a picometer, 1000 picometers in a nanometer, 1000
nanometers in a micrometer, 1000 micrometers in a millimeter, 10 millimeters
in a centimeter, 100 centimeters in a meter (no one uses decimeters, save
that a cubic decimeter is a liter), 1000 meters in a kilometer... factors of
10 for normal sizes and of 1000 for extreme sizes. Where's the problem?