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# Make the Foot Longer

Metric-Imperial compatibility.
 (+2, -2) [vote for, against]

Internal memo, RE: EU directive #13243253253.34c, pertaining to measurements.

* Beginning in 2007, the length of the imperial unit of measurement known as the foot is to be resized to bring it into line with the metric system.

* Currently one foot = 0.3048 meter. With a small upward adjustment to its length there will be exactly three(3) feet to the meter. This will make the unit known as the yard exactly equivalent to the meter.

* The imperial measurement system can then run in parallel with the metric system.

* The length of one foot is rather arbitrary. Studies indicate that the average foot is not exactly 12 (pre-2007) inches long anyway.

* There is precedent for changing the size of imperial units ref. English and American pints.

* After 2007, any measuring device using the new inches will have to be fluorescent orange and clearly stamped with the official new imperial measurement stamp.

* This should be even more fun than the whole renaming chocolate thing.

Note to people who take things too seriously. The format of the idea is based on a whim rather than any political view. If you feel strongly about Europe, just pretend the idea is a lot shorter and in continuous prose.

 — RobertKidney, Jun 16 2004

The decimal inch...huh? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inch
you gotta hand it to those crazy Swedes... [moomintroll, Feb 05 2005]

How to lose \$125 million http://news.bbc.co....sci/tech/514763.stm
You gotta hand it to those crazy yanks [AbsintheWithoutLeave, Feb 07 2005]

Other people's ideas on this http://en.wikipedia...ied_Imperial_system
Thomas Jefferson and others proposed changes like this centuries ago. [Crissov, Jun 07 2005]

Do it. +
 — simonj, Jun 16 2004

 What would we call it?

"Okay Bob, now move it over about a leg and a half"
 — DesertFox, Jun 16 2004

We would call it the foot. That's the whole point of the idea! (Goes away to calm down and stop taking things so seriously)
Bun for the idea.
 — spacemoggy, Jun 16 2004

I’m all for it, as long as it’s the meter that gets shorter.
 — ldischler, Jun 16 2004

 Get bigger shoes?

 Stretch socks out to make the foot look bigger

 genetic engineering?

 Bind babies feet in order so that their feet get longer instead of wider?

 Selective breeding?

Many ways of doing this!
 — DesertFox, Jun 16 2004

The foot should get longer as you get older, no?
 — phundug, Jun 16 2004

So if you live to be 114 years old, you should have giant Kink Kong sized feet?
 — DesertFox, Jun 16 2004

To be controlled with a footometer.
 — FarmerJohn, Jun 16 2004

Nah, what'll happen is that we'll get an 'Imperial foot' and a 'metric foot' to confuse things even further.
 — RayfordSteele, Jun 16 2004

 OK, [RayfordSteele], I'll confess. The confusion is actually part of the secret plan from Brussels to force everyone to use metric, since using feet will just leave everyone completely confused. (And I really have no idea why I'm impersonating the european commision. I'd suspect drink, but I posted the idea before I went out.)

 Once things settle down though the new foot will actually fill a useful role in the metric system if you ever need to specify 33.33333cm or multiples of. The big probolem with base ten is of course the way it doesn't deal well with fractions.

 [half]: the new inch would be 1/12 of the metric foot. So 1/36 of a meter. The metric mile would be 1760 metric yards (meters).

 [DesertFox]: GM is a big no no. And the extensive study* sugests that the foot isn't especially well linked to the length of a human foot anyway.

*Assuming my feet are of perfectly average length and then guesstimating their length.
 — RobertKidney, Jun 16 2004

 [RK], re. Brussels forcing the metric system on the UK/everyone. Actually the UK government (or more properly the Sir Humphreys who are in charge of the system...) were pressing for adoption of the metric system from the 1920's onwards. The switch in the 1960's/1970's had very little to do with the European Economic Community (as then was). It was just a convenient place to redirect the blame.

 In any case the metric (or S.I. more properly) system of units is several orders of magnitude more efficient and useful than any of the combinations of Imperial units on offer. I know it *WAS* the French that devised it, but it is still the most coherent system, particularly when complicated scientific or engineering calculations are required.

Oh, and what do you have against Genetic Engineering (GM)?

 I told you not to take the EU thing too seriously. I like metric, and am not woried about being swallowed up by a new european superstate.

GM is sort of a tabbo around here, you know? Ideas which are just 'make something do X by using genetic engineering' are the cause, but now I think any kind of GM idea is likely to go down in flames.
 — RobertKidney, Jun 16 2004

 [RK] don't mess with the metric system - it's the only thing keeping me sane!

As for GM, in and of itself it's an interesting and exciting field of biological sciences, and the kneejerk "anti-GM" reaction by the UK popular press is worrying, particularly given the biological sources of such staple foods as wheat, potatoes, cows, sheep, etc., etc., all of which have been genetically modified though selective breeding for the last several thousand years. <breathe> GM may well cause less (perhaps much less) damage than the current way of doing things. It's only the Luddites keeping us from exploring the possibilities.

Just let the units evolve slowly. Every year the Foot would grow a bit and the Mile would shrink slightly. After several generations they would be the same as the Meter and KM. Anyone who has to do calculations must look up the numbers anyway, the tables would just change. The rest of the people would never have to learn anything, wouldn’t notice the difference and could keep the same unit names.
 — Fussass, Jun 16 2004

This idea fits nicely into the trend of super sizing everything. You should also super size the US pound to make it 500g. Many people will love it because they loose 10% weight without any exercise or diet. Grocery stores will love it because people routinely order 10% more at the deli. They can also justify increases in price with the higher weight.
 — kbecker, Jun 16 2004

 There are many artifacts which are sized in inches or multiples thereof; these artifacts will not magically change size as a result of changes to defined units.

 Any well-equipped toolbox is going to need a crescent wrench measuring 12.77mm even if units are redfined so that a "half-inch" is 13.88mm. Indeed, if the new units did catch on, a tool box would need three sets of wrenches instead of just two.

BTW, if you want something close to English units, making the foot be 3/10 meter would be much closer than making it 1/3. On the other hand, the fact that there exist electronic connectors and devices with spacings of 2.50mm and 2.54mm, 5.00mm and 5.08mm, 0.500mm and 0.508mm, etc. causes all manner of havoc. Defining new 'almost' units to codify this craziness doesn't seem helpful.
 — supercat, Jun 17 2004

I'm in agreement with supercat. Though it would be convenient if everybody ran on the metric system, a sudden switch like this would cause chaos, as well as piss off a lot of tradespersons.
 — WordUp, Jun 17 2004

//There is precedent for changing the size of imperial units ref. English and American pints.//
No, actually. The Imperial pint did not change, the US pint did.
 — angel, Jun 17 2004

 Yeah how did the US manage to screw up the Imperial system (even more than it was)?

Leave the foot it's current length i have a pair of size 11 (UK) shoes that are close enough to 1' long that i can estimate sizes for paving etc fairly accurately.
 — engineer1, Jun 17 2004

 So the US got the cast offs...

So how many pints in a US gallon?
 — engineer1, Jun 17 2004

[Zanzibar]: But the Imperial pint and gallon did not change, we just started using them insted of the other version.
[engineer1]: 8, but they're smaller than the Imperial pint (16 oz vs 20 oz).
 — angel, Jun 17 2004

 //But the Imperial pint and gallon did not change, we just started using them insted of the other version.//

Neither the US nor the UK pint changed size. The UK picked one existing standard and the US picked a different existing standard.
 — GenYus, Jun 17 2004

It seems strange that for things that are the same; the spelling is different, but for things that are different; the spelling is the same. Maybe US ounce should be "ounze" or "ounse", and UK gallon becomes "galloun".

Getting back to 'feet' for a moment....
The common method is to round down. I have noticed that if you order a 25mm item (bearing, shaft etc), from the US, then what do you sometimes get? 1 inch.
The 300mm foot is already with us.
 — Ling, Jun 18 2004

This will throw the hot dog industry into chaos.
 — Lacus Trasumenus, Jun 18 2004

 Heh, this is possibly the most controversial (by vote score) of my ideas ever.

 Some thoughts: A 30cm foot would be a waste of time. It wouldn't convert much better than it does now, and a foot isn't much easier to say than 30cm. It would also be hard to tell it apart from the old foot, making things even more confusing.

 A 1/3 of a meter though, that is a useful thing to have, as it gives a unit that cannot be specified in metic. It brings yards and meters into line, and makes it easier to convert between miles and kilometers.

 Currently the imperial system is likely to die as it gets less and less relevant (although possibly not in the US for a long time). If we were to do this we would have it as a useful part of the metric system, making life easier for the next few generations, and ultimately allowing future generations the joy of units which work in base 12, base 3 and base 1760.

I like the idea of changing the spelling of various UK and US units by [Ling].
 — RobertKidney, Jun 18 2004

 Base 12 makes more sense than base ten.

 Just because we have 10 fingers, we seem to do everthing by base ten. 60 is a multiple of 12, and is divisible by more things than 50 or 100.

It's just a thought.
 — DesertFox, Feb 05 2005

 All things considered, I'd prefer making penises longer.

Also, I wish that, in the metric system, there were some commonly used unit of measurement between the cm and the meter. The foot is a nice human scale length.
 — bristolz, Feb 05 2005

``Yes, why is the decimeter so unpopular?
 — tiromancer, Feb 05 2005

 I've always thought the imperial system was much more friendly and human. I work in metric all day, but if someone asks me to estimate a length, my first answer will be in inches.

 I was thinking there should be a metric inch of 25mm, thus allowing for easy translation to metric and retaining the basic ergonomic appeal of the original.

 Interestingly, the Swedes came up with the decimal inch, but look what they did with it... [link]

[Sigh] if only we'd evolved with twelve fingers, this whole mess might never have happened...
 — moomintroll, Feb 05 2005

 //Yes, why is the decimeter so unpopular?//

Other than centimeters are there any popular centi-, deci-, deca-, or hect- units which are also commonly used in non-prefixed form? I can think of one common unit for each of deci-, deca-, and hect-, but none of them are commonly used without the prefix.
 — supercat, Feb 06 2005

 Decibels? Decimate?

Actually, I don't understand what you mean, [superkitty].
 — bristolz, Feb 06 2005

``(Decibel, decade, and hectare?) No, I can't think of any other common measures using those prefixes, unless you count CCs. I'm not sure I'd count hectares as common either. So, do you know of a reason?
 — tiromancer, Feb 06 2005

[tiro] - why are your posts prefixed with ``?
 — Detly, Feb 07 2005

`` <-- Reminder that I might want to delete something.
 — tiromancer, Feb 07 2005

//Maybe US ounce should be "ounze" or "ounse", and UK gallon becomes "galloun".// Or maybe the US could adopt with the "meter" (which is equivalent to three metric 30.48cm "feat")and here in the Europe we stick with "metre".
Then we stand back and see how many Mars probes we can lose [link]
 — AbsintheWithoutLeave, Feb 07 2005

 //(Decibel, decade, and hectare?) No, I can't think of any other common measures using those prefixes, unless you count CCs. I'm not sure I'd count hectares as common either. So, do you know of a reason?//

 Those are the three I was thinking of. And a hectare is more common as a unit of area than 'are' [100 m^2]. Funny, though, isn't it--having all those prefixes that almost never get used?

 On a related note, I find it interesting that resistances are measured in milliohms, ohms, kilohms, and megohms (going up by 1,000 each step) while capacitors are mainly measured in picofarads, microfarads, and farads (occasionally nanofarads, and only rarely milifarads).

A capacitor of 100,000 picofarads will more commonly be written as 0.1uF than as 100nF, but a resistor of 100,000 ohms would almost always be written as 100K rather than 0.1M. Weird.
 — supercat, Feb 07 2005

 Many countries metrified (or metricated?) their units in the 19th century, i.e. made them integral (or simple fractional) metric sizes. For example, various German states baked this (between 1800 and 1871) with metric feet of 2œ, 3 or 3_1/3 decimetres (Japan: 3_1/33), which were subdivided into twelve or ten inches or even both. Others retained their measures, but specified them in terms of metric equivalents; this included the US and UK (although slightly different until the 1950s). All these were abandoned later on, except for the US customary units. Nevertheless, for more than two centuries there have been countless proposals to metrify (and clean up) the English systems of measurement, too. The best-known such proponent, who sadly failed despite being quite influential, was perhaps Thomas Jefferson (Wikipedia: Metrified Imperial system).

Nowadays it's too late. Just convert to the metric system (SI), although it is not flawless either. Nobody forbids you to use "1/3 m" or "2^10 m" (= 1 Kim; kibimetre) or even "Pi m", though. It also doesn't harm much, when people _colloquially_ use extra (local) aliases like 1 pound = œ kg or 1 pint = œ l. There are ISO standards for preferred numbers, which are much more powerful than the bunch of English unit names (Wikipedia: Preferred number). It's also a matter of habit, tradition and arrangement which prefixes or even aliases are actually used in a certain country, language or field of science or technology; for example dekagrams are popular in Poland and Austria, decimetres (which are actually close to a palm or hand-breadth) are much used in water levels, hectolitres in breweries, "klicks" (for km) in the US army etc.pp. (Who tries to get the astronomers to use tens of petametres instead of lightyears?)
 — Crissov, Jun 07 2005

The bloody English system! We’re lucky they didn’t make the foot twice the length of the king’s penis.
 — ldischler, Jun 07 2005

 The entire feet/metres debate is nothing compared with the whole SI/CGS/AU/[insert other specific physics units here]. In fact, in CGS, a single quantity can mysteriously absorb or create a factor of 4pi without any provocation.

"For those who want some proof that physicists are human, the proof is in the idiocy of all the different units which they use for measuring energy."
~ Richard P. Feynman
(The Character of Physical Law)
 — Detly, Jun 09 2005

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