Metric System Quotes (6 quotes)

But in the heavens we discover by their light, and by their light alone, stars so distant from each other that no material thing can ever have passed from one to another; and yet this light, which is to us the sole evidence of the existence of these distant worlds, tells us also that each of them is built up of molecules of the same kinds as those which we find on earth. A molecule of hydrogen, for example, whether in Sirius or in Arcturus, executes its vibrations in precisely the same time. Each molecule, therefore, throughout the universe, bears impressed on it the stamp of a metric system as distinctly as does the metre of the Archives at Paris, or the double royal cubit of the Temple of Karnac ... the exact quantity of each molecule to all others of same kind gives it, as Sir John Herschel has well said, the essential character of a manufactured article and precludes the idea of its being external and self-existent.

Geometrical axioms are neither synthetic

That being so what ought one to think of this question: Is the Euclidean Geometry true?

The question is nonsense. One might as well ask whether the metric system is true and the old measures false; whether Cartesian co-ordinates are true and polar co-ordinates false.

*a priori*conclusions nor experimental facts. They are conventions: our choice, amongst all possible conventions, is guided by experimental facts; but it remains free, and is only limited by the necessity of avoiding all contradiction. ... In other words, axioms of geometry are only definitions in disguise.That being so what ought one to think of this question: Is the Euclidean Geometry true?

The question is nonsense. One might as well ask whether the metric system is true and the old measures false; whether Cartesian co-ordinates are true and polar co-ordinates false.

Give 'em 2.5 cm, and they'll take 1.6 km.

In the heavens we discover [stars] by their light, and by their light alone ... the sole evidence of the existence of these distant worlds ... that each of them is built up of molecules of the same kinds we find on earth. A molecule of hydrogen, for example, whether in Sirius or in Arcturus, executes its vibrations in precisely the same time. Each molecule therefore throughout the universe bears impressed upon it the stamp of a metric system as distinctly as does the metre of the Archives at Paris, or the royal cubit of the Temple of Karnac.

*[Footnote: Where Maxwell uses the term “molecule” we now use the term “atom.”]*
The comparatively small progress toward universal acceptance made by the metric system seems to be due not altogether to aversion to a change of units, but also to a sort of irrepressible conflict between the decimal and binary systems of subdivision.

*[Remarking in 1892 (!) that although decimal fractions were introduced about 1585, America retains measurements in halves, quarters, eights and sixteenths in various applications such as fractions of an inch, the compass or used by brokers.]*
You, in this country [the USA], are subjected to the British insularity in weights and measures; you use the foot, inch and yard. I am obliged to use that system, but must apologize to you for doing so, because it is so inconvenient, and I hope Americans will do everything in their power to introduce the French metrical system. ... I look upon our English system as a wickedly, brain-destroying system of bondage under which we suffer. The reason why we continue to use it, is the imaginary difficulty of making a change, and nothing else; but I do not think in America that any such difficulty should stand in the way of adopting so splendidly useful a reform.