The Science Nook

Measurement is of one the most useful facets we as humans enjoy and the art of measurement is exemplified by the scientific method. Now, like most things in this world we live, some things are better adapted to their environment than others. That is to say some things have qualities that are more useful in their environment than other qualities. In the environment of measurement, I argue, the International System of Measurement (SI system) is a more useful forms.

Scientists are not held to the SI system due to dogma or other similar methods, but to the usefulness of the SI units. In fact, if another system of measurement were to be discovered and was shown and verified to be more useful, the practitioners of science would use that system.

One such useful feature of the SI system is that it is a base 10 system much like our monetary system. For example 100 cm equal one meter and 1000 meters equal one kilometer. By using a base 10 system it is easy to scale and compare from one unit to another for example, one kilometer is 1000 times longer than one meter.

Now, the popular system we employ in the United States is based on arbitrary units which are much harder to put into perspective, for example 12 inches equals a foot, three feet equal a yard, and so forth. Furthermore we in the United States mix our measurements, which can lead to confusion like with the destruction of the $125 million mars climate orbiter due to a wrong conversion between our traditional system and the SI system. That single error cost U.S. taxpayers a great deal of money and pride, not to mention the wasted effort to gain more knowledge about the universe in which we live.

No doubt some people will say that abandoning our current measuring system is of too great an effort to be worth it. But the person who says this is doing so out of laziness and in fact is hurting you the reasonable reader.

For example, it is hurting you because when you go to compare products, the arbitrary units used are confusing to compare from one amount to another and in this confusion mistakes are made and your money lost.

This is also hurting our education by forcing young children to go back and forth between systems. They should be trying to understand the science that is being taught, not how many bushels are in a peck. Our current way of measuring in the Untied States is keeping us ignorant and confused while SI system would allow us to make faster and more informed decisions.