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July 2, 2017 36 mins

In this week's SYSK Select episode, the U.S. stands proudly defiant and the world looks at Americans as dopes for the U.S.'s stubborn refusal to go metric. However, the States have been going metric for about 150 years. Find out what's the haps in this weighty and measured episode of SYSK.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Hey everyone, it's me Josh, and this week for s
Y s K Selects, I've picked why isn't the US
on the metric system? The big spoiler is this kind
of is, so check it out. Welcome to stuff you
should know room House Stuff Works dot Com. Hey, and

(00:27):
welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark and there's Charles W.
Chuck Bryant and since we're together and there's some microphones present,
and Jerry's in the other room, this is stuff that's right. Yeah,
I learned musty, dusty little whole. I'm glad to be
back in this room. Actually me too, because we did
these in another room for a little while. Again just
moving us around. Yeah, like we're like, we don't have

(00:50):
a process or something. Yeah. They what they do is
they tie a yarn around one of the microphones and
they just sort of drag it through the building and
we just chase after it like a little dumb puppy. Yeah.
It works with dollar bills to dollar bills and microphones.
So you're doing okay, I am sleepy. Well that's good
because we'll see what happens when I might put you

(01:10):
all the way to sleep. I was up all night Um, yeah,
this is gonna be fun. Are you hallucinating at all?
I'm a little funky, So yeah, this should be good numbers.
This is history though, really, yes, it is more than history.
Culture anger. Yeah, Napoleon for god's sakes. Yeah, yeah, we're
talking about the metric system. Hey, hey, that makes sense

(01:32):
to say that. Um, you chuck. We've got like this
kind of meme that's run through our podcast where we
kind of make fun of the metric system, and but
we also go to the trouble of calling out the
metric equivalence of whatever we're talking about with feet. Usually
sometimes we're sort of it like, if we feel like
doing it, we'll do it. Yes, but we've done it

(01:54):
enough so it's become a thing. Yeah, right, the metric
system and US has become a thing. I thought it
was high time that we got to the bottom of
this whole big problem, which is the US is the
only industrialized nation that isn't on the metric system right
fully on the metric system as a nation. You did
a great job with that, man. That is absolutely true. Like,

(02:17):
we're the only industrialization that doesn't have compulsory metric system usage.
It's voluntary, but it's still pretty widespread. And if you
go back and look at our lawbooks, you know, the
law of the land, you will find that the metric
system is very much entrenched in the US. And so
all these people who say the US is on the
metric system, you're wrong largely. Yeah, look at your ruler

(02:41):
there in your little three ring binder probably says centimeters
and millimeters. That's metric. Uh right, But that's if you're
in the U s. If you're if you're elsewhere outside
the US, they just have centimeters and millimeters. They don't
throw the engine there. The inches so clean, that would
love the inch. It is clean and it is a
rep resents this legacy from so long ago when you know,

(03:03):
people used the width of a human man's thumb as
a measurement and that was an inch. And apparently there's
some languages out there where inch and thumb or the
same word, they're interchangeable. Yeah. I wondered about if you know,
obviously the article points out in the early days, like
you said, they would use body parts like you know,
what was the wouldn't like a formalm palma a foot

(03:24):
is what you think it is? Yeah, like people that
had smaller of these did they get ripped off in transactions? Slightly?
Like I had a small thumb, like what are we
gonna do? Right? Or do you bring along your buddy?
Do you hire the guy with the big thumbs be
like you're working for me? And transactions that's what they
call the master blaster technique. That's where the heavy hitter
came from. But yeah, so there's a certain kind of um,

(03:47):
earthy colloquialism to the to the the US customary system,
which is what we use the inch, the foot, an
acre and acre did you know is the average amount
of land that a human with the team of oxen
could plow in a day. That's where we got the
acre from. It's cool, it all makes sense that it's root.
The problem is it's extraordinarily unscientific. Um, yeah, true, which

(04:13):
is what the meter is. These the metric system is
extremely scientific, but it's got its roots, um, fairly far
back itself. It goes back to like sixteen seventy. Should
we get into this. Let's let's talk about this. That's
a great robust intro. You're feeling good? Yeah, okay, good? Thanks? Alright, So,

(04:34):
like we said for many many years, as man evolved
in two smaller societies and two bigger and bigger ones.
The thumb and the foot and the forearm and things
like that. Was like, it's getting a little a little
crazy to handle all this, right, especially if you're using
a forum over here, but this guy's using a neck
and you both have swords. So as we formed larger societies,

(04:59):
we thought, you know, is getting really confusing. We got
commerce going between various lands. We gotta like codify this,
right or do you say codify? I say codify? How
you do good? Um? Well we agree on pronunciations. So
in France things were just as confusing. And by the

(05:20):
time the French Revolution came around, they said, you know
what everything is all wha I could do. Charlemagne here
has had a pretty good system in effect for a while.
Let's just dive into this system that Paris uses. Well, yeah,
the problem is is um. Paris Is wasn't any more
um scientific than anybody else's. But it was Paris. It

(05:41):
was um and that was I think Louis the sixte
that ordered some people to start looking into how to
standardize measurements because France had it worse than anybody. Well, yeah,
because they they they thought it was a good idea,
but he got more pushedback than he thought from the
noble folk, and so so much so that they overthrew him. Yeah,
and he said, well yeah, and he said, you know what,

(06:03):
let's convene here the Estates General, which was supposedly a
group of UH, an assembly of people from various classes
to be all represented, and let's figure this out once
and for all. UH. And again they overthrew the king.
But along the way they also adopted us a systematized
standard of measurements which is based on this um, this

(06:25):
stuff devised by a monk back in sixteen seventy Mouton. Well,
matrique was the system, right, but matrique um comes from
the Greek, which means um to measure right, that's right. Um.
So Muton came up with this idea that you should
um take you should be able to create a standard

(06:48):
unit of distance of length based on something that has
to do with the earth. To take it away from
the humans. Humans come in all shapes and sizes. You
need something that's going to be persist tint. And let's
say say I persistent, like not only is it always there,
it's in your face too. So he was saying, let's

(07:09):
let's use some sort of measure of a degree of longitude, right, yeah,
which makes sense because that what had already been established. Yeah.
So he kind of put this fourth heel said, and
by the way, you should you should make it up
based on a decimal system, very smart a UM ten
ten base system base ten system um, which is very
easy to divide and multiply by. And um, it's not arbitrary, right,

(07:33):
and base it all around this length like everything like volume, mass,
all this stuff. Make sure it's around this one length
and um. He went and died, but his ideas lived on.
And so when the National Assembly really started to look
into this system of measurement, they found, um, Mouton's ideas
were alive and well and pretty practical. Yeah, and they

(07:55):
said let's do this. Um. And then they said, all right,
if we're gonna do this, let's form a mission. Formed
the commission and said, let's base it on these three
principles that were established by Mouton, who I don't think
we said it was a mathematician. Obviously here was a
mathematician and astronomer, weren't they They kind of went hand
in hand. They made beer yeah, exactly, which meant they

(08:18):
are also mathematicians and astronomers. Um, so they had the
three basic principles should be equal to a portion of
the Earth's circumference, which is I get what they mean,
but that would be any unit of length that's smaller
than the Earth's or conference. Yeah, I get what they're saying, though,
you know what I'm saying. Like anything, you could just

(08:38):
arbitrarily pick any length and you could say it's based
on the Earth's or conference. You could. But what they
were saying was it has to be a portion measured
off of an already extant like something we already know, right,
take a portion of it could have been eighty miles, though,
sure it could have been, but that would have made sense.
I digress. Number two. Volume of mass you said would

(09:00):
be derived from length. So everything's gonna be related to
each other and you could figure it out mathematically, and um,
everything's got to be multiplied or divided by ten if
you want to get something smaller or larger a decimal system. Um.
This is just brilliant genius stuff for a guy in
sixteen seventy to be coming up with and for it

(09:21):
not to have been adopted right away. Um. But the
French when they really started looking at it, they figured out, okay,
this is a pretty good system. We're gonna go with this. Uh.
And those two guys started measuring from um Barcelona, Spain
to dunk Kirk, northern France, and they measured along this
one line and they came up with a quadrant of
the circumference of the Earth, basically the this meridian that

(09:45):
ran through Paris from the north pole to the equator,
so it's a quarter of the circumference of the Earth.
And they figured out that a meter could conceivably be
a one ten million of that quadrant, So it's one
ten million of the meridian that runs through Paris as

(10:05):
it goes from the north pole to the equator. That's
the fact of the show for me. That's a meter,
and also the fact of the shows that they decided
how to do it and to call it a meter.
And then they went, well, I guess we need to
figure out how long this thing is, right like I
would have thought it would have been the other way around.
But I guess it doesn't make sense. Like I said,
it's arbitrary. Let's come up with a system and then

(10:26):
say all right, that base unit of measurement, how long
should that be? And it it also it's pretty nationalistic too.
It's this meridian that runs through Paris, you know, So
it's the metric system is an extremely French invention, that's right, um,
which is kind of one of the reasons you can
go back and say that the US doesn't have it. Um.

(10:47):
It's also one of the reasons a lot of the
world does have it because after the French Revolution, UM,
Napoleon came to power, and Napoleon UM conquered a lot
of lands, and he brought the metri system with them. Yeah.
I mean at this point it was it was solid.
I think it took five years for them to completely
adopt it or officially adopt it. And once you had

(11:11):
the meter in place, you had everything else because it
was all based off the meter. So they're homing along
and then, like you said, Napoleon says, I'm going to
take the meter with me and conquer Europe, and now
everyone all of a sudden is gaining traction the meter,
and so across the pond. In the US. At about

(11:32):
the same time, right the you, the federal government was like,
you know what, we we need to you can't have
a country without a uniform system of measurements and weights
and all that, because the commerce that's the basis of
this whole thing. Right. If you're just a little hunter
gatherer band and you're getting your own food, you need
virtually no measurements or weights or anything like that. If

(11:55):
you start trading with another band you wanted to be fair,
you suddenly need a system of measurements and white. And
then as that trade increases more and more, the need
for that system of measurements and waits to be uniform
around the world increases tremendously, right, agreed. So the US
assembles the colonies into states and says we need to
have some sort of uniform system of measurements. So Thomas

(12:17):
Jefferson was the first guy to pick that up, right,
I mean it's in the Constitution. Yeah. Previous to that,
they obviously, because they were came from England, they used
the British standard um and the British imperial system, which
was pretty antiquated. Yeah, but it still looks a lot
like what we're using it today exactly. And like you said,
they put it in the constitution. What was it, uh,

(12:39):
Article one, Section eight and then t J said, you
know what, I like this decimal system. I think it's
a good idea. But that means we gotta send these
dudes over to France and we gotta find out. They
gotta bring out their meter stick and show it to us,
and we gotta bring one back with us, and it's
really expand So so let's just keep what we got

(13:01):
for now. And can we trust the French? Do we
need to have our own surveyors go make the same
measurement and make sure that this isn't somehow like French centric,
Franco centric, you know. Um, So he kind of backed
off of the whole thing. There was also a big
fear that, like once Napoleon uh died down, that there
was gonna be a there was metric backlash. Yeah, that

(13:23):
it was just kind of fallow the wayside. Maybe we
should wait and see. Let's they thought it sort of
like investing in Napoleon. You know, who wants to do that? Nobody? Nobody,
um round About the same time, also, the French had
supported the US during the Revolutionary War, and then after
the Revolutionary War, the enemies um Great Britain and the

(13:44):
United States established a treaty called Jay's Treaty in and
basically it said, hey, let's let's chill out a little bit.
Let's see if we can get along. We're gonna withdraw
our troops from the Pacific Northwest. We the Brits, you
Americans can start trading in the West. Standis And the
French was like, what the heck? I thought we were
in bed together? Yeah, so what's going on? So all

(14:06):
of a sudden there's hostilities between the French and the Americans,
so much so that when the French held this big
metric extravagance that like debut it to the world. Yeah,
it was pretty funny. I thought, what just you know,
I mean, it was necessary, but it just I could
picture Convention Center with like various styles of meter sticks

(14:27):
and here it is. But the U S didn't get
an invitation. Yeah, they get snubbed. So let's let's let's
point that out again. The U S didn't get an
invitation when France was like, the metric system works. We're
going to introduce to the rest of the world. Everybody
come adopt this, except for you guys, because we're mad
at you. Yeah. So I guess the ultimate question that

(14:47):
we're answering in a roundabout way over this whole podcast
is why isn't the U S one of those countries
chalk this up as one of the early reasons. Well,
they didn't want us to, they didn't invite us. Yeah,
he said, screw you, guys, we'll go Matrique. Can you
do whatever you want with your little ruler right in
the U S said we will, we will, guys, we're
gonna By this time, I think eighteen twenty one, John

(15:09):
Quincy Adams order to survey um of all of the
the states and all the measurements and weights used in
the States, and they he said, you know what, this
is uniform enough. We're gonna stick with this. We're fine. Yeah,
we don't need this frenchie invention. Paul Giamatti said, no, yeah,
that was he. He was John Adams, right, yeah, okay. Um. However,

(15:32):
as we said, the metric system throughout the rest of
the world, despite the fact that Napoleon went by by,
the metric system caught on enough and it wasn't just
tied to him, and the US was like, man, you'rpe.
You know, everyone has really gotten on this metric thing.
We might have missed the boat a little bit. Uh,
and is that a problem? So in eighteen sixty six, Uh,

(15:55):
Andrew Johnson said, you know what I'm gonna I'm gonna
sign into law that is lawful in the United States
to employ the weights and measures of the metric system
and all of our contracts and dealings and court proceedings
like the government standard, right exactly. And he said, like,
if somebody uses the metric system and a contract with you,
that's that's legal now. So right there, the US just

(16:18):
legally adopted the metric system. The big the big loophole
was it's not compulsory right there, It's just if somebody
wants to, it's legal, right, that's right, um, Which is
kind of funny because that added to this already cluster
of the U s customary system where there's like three
different units. A lot of stuff are the same, they

(16:41):
have the same name. There's nine different kinds of tons.
Did you know that? There's the short ton, the which
you never want to get your hands on if you're
looking for a full ton, the displacement ton, the refrigeration ton,
the nuclear ton, the registered ton, the metric ton, the
essay ton, and a ton of coal equivalent, chuck, that's

(17:02):
a ton of tons. It is, UM. But now the
metric system has just kind of poked its head in
under US law and it's now entrenched. It's made, it's made.
It's first four A into the US. That's right. Flash
forward another nine or ten years, eighteen seventy five, another

(17:23):
special Assembly in Paris said we're gonna bring together seventeen
nations and you know what, us, get your butt over here. Yeah,
come on. They're like, all right, well, come come on,
you don't be mad, and they said no. So they
went over and UM signed the Treaty of the Meter,
which is a real thing, set up the International Bureau

(17:45):
of Weights and Measures UH and a General Conference on
Weights and Measures to consider an adopt changes over the years.
And also said, you know what, if we're gonna establish
this meter, we need to set up a lab where
they keep all this stuff in their official form in
case I guess, I guess, like the seed vault, in

(18:05):
case the world ever goes to pot. We got that
meter stick in this in this closet here, right, And
they actually did have a meter stick. It was the
International Prototype Meter, so funny, and it was a it
was had to do it though. This is the meter,
and this is the one that all are measured from,

(18:26):
and it's housed in this area, this um, this office
in seven Yeah. I thought it was buried beneath the
crypt in the catacombs of the Is it No, I'm
just kidding um, because it seems like something the French
would do with the media. Tom Hanks would have found
it though. Um, oh, I got you. Yeah, uh so

(18:48):
they did have that. They had the meter. They also
had the International Prototype kilometer. Yea, the kilogram yeah, um,
and that's made of already him and platinum's kept in
an air tight jar and it is um the kilogram.
Everything else is measured off of. So they make copies
of all these and all the um. All the countries

(19:11):
that ratified the Treaty of the Meter got copies of
their own, and the US got their own in eight ninety.
So the U S is going like metric crazy now,
especially because of this guy named Mendel right uh t C.
Menden Hall. Menden Hall. He was the Superintendent of Weights
and Measures, and the menden Hall Order of three said,

(19:32):
you know what, We're gonna establish our fundamental standards for
LinkedIn mass on this these metric units, we'll call it
a yard, but yard is Eventually they settled on uh
point zero point nine, right, and a kilogram or a
pound equals zero point four five three five nine two

(19:56):
three seven kilograms. So think about this. This is huge
TC men in Hall changed everything with this men in
Hall order. We still use the the pound inch system,
the U S customary system, but it's defined by the
metric system, the s I system, right, I don't think
we mentioned that yet. Well we haven't got they haven't

(20:17):
changed it over that yet, they haven't changed their name.
We're still in the metric system of this just gave
it spoiler alert. But but think about that. That's that's huge.
So it's kind of like, all right, everybody's talking here,
but if you if you go beneath the surface just
one more level. The US is operating on the metric system.
That's that we define everything years to screw you rest
of the world. We are on the metric system. We

(20:38):
just call it. Right. So about this time, um, there's
like this kind of metric fever that's sweeping the US,
and then Men in Hall dies and it kind of
dies with him. Metric fever might be overstating, then you
know they were. There were pennants and t shirts all right.
Um no, actually that didn't come until the seventies. But

(20:58):
before so inn Hall dies metric fever kind of dies
out a little bit. And then, um, part of that
Treaty of the Meter, Chuck, was that, uh, there was
a conference established, a conference on this metric system where
they would meet and like adopt changes and measure things. Yeah.
It was It's cool because they weren't like, this is
a perfect system, it never needs to change. They figured

(21:21):
out ways to improve it over the years, and in
nineteen sixty huge change came down, um, where they stopped
tying and defining the metric measures of the metric units
of measure to the original things like the meridian timillion um.
Instead they tied it to immutable laws of the universe

(21:45):
that made it even more precise. Man. Yeah, and this
was mainly done for because of science. Science demanded uh
tighter and more refined system, right exactly. Um, So now
a meter is no longer you're defined as one ten
millionth of the meridian that runs through Paris as it
travels from the north pole to the equator. A meter

(22:07):
is the distance traveled by light in a vacuum and
one two hundred nine nine million, seven hundred nine two thousand,
four hundred fifty eight of a second, that's a meter, right,
or they just say a meter is this thing and
they hold out the meter stick. Well, they still have
the kilogram. It's the mass of the International prototype kilograms.

(22:27):
Still that is still that's the only one that's still
tied to it. But like, um a second, that's another
metrics standard that we use here in the US. You
didn't notice. So the time it takes an atom of
seas M one thirty three to vacillate nine billion, one
nine two million, six hundred and thirty one thousand, seven
hundred and seventy times between two hyperfine levels of its

(22:49):
ground state, that's pretty good. So basically what they did
was this the meter. It became even more scientific. The
metric system became so scientific that they stopped calling at
the metric system. They called it the the s I,
the International standard. Right. Yea, they could have gone the
other way, They could have gotten less scientific. It would
have been more fun. And Nick, well that was the

(23:10):
kind of the thing. And I think that it's like, yes,
it helps science tremendously, but it also it's going further
away from that customary stuff that we use here the
thumb inch, you know. Now it's seas and one thirty
three atoms vacillating and it it it's more scientific and
it's less human. It's just more precise, which is good

(23:33):
for everybody. It is. They also added a lot of
um in nine instead of um just millimeters or meters
or kilometers. They also added a lot more like prefixes,
like nanometer. There's now a picometer, which is a trillionth
of a meter. Yeah, so far, because a nanometer is

(23:55):
a billionth of a meter chez. Yeah, alright, so we
back to the U S. Yes, So nineteen sixty things changed.
That's that's the point of all this. I'm sorry about that.
That's great. Point was is like the meters is kind
of there hanging out, and then bam they expanded and
make it way more scientific. Comes back like Gangbusters, it does.
And it took about close to fifty years from the

(24:16):
time Mendenhall died in ninety four to nine seventy one,
when the U S. National Bureau of Standards wrote a
report called a Metric America and obviously I was born
in seventy one, I remember that, but I remember the
following ten years, which was the recommendation for the transition.
He said, let's try to do this over the next decade.
So I remember as a young child the big push.

(24:38):
It was a very big deal. It's always in the news.
We're going metric, We're going metric. Uh. Congress enacted the
Metric Conversion Act in seventy five, but said, you know what,
this ten year deadline should be voluntary. Again, still not compulsory,
which is yet another reason why we didn't fully go metric.

(25:00):
I guess they had their reasons, but they said, let's
not make this a compulsory thing. It smelled pretty Canadian.
I think I did it to Americans, and they're a
lot of people resisted. So globalization increases, we're doing more
and more business with more and more nations around the world.
American companies found themselves, you know, maybe at a disadvantage

(25:24):
or at least challenged to keep up because they're still
converting things and trying to get their trade partners to
convert or at least we'll do the math for you.
But know that when you're getting pounds it's this much.
I mean, you're you're packaging products, say in Arkansas, that
are being sold in Florida, but they're also being sold

(25:44):
in um kirk, right, and you need to have two
different packaging. That's expensive and stupid. Yeah, that makes you
less competitive globally, that's true. So this Metric Conversion Act,
there were amendments bad saying, you know what, let's go
ahead and call this that the preferred system of weights
and measurements for trade and commerce. So we instill a

(26:06):
little further along, a little inched further along, or millimeter
further along. Okay, uh, And then the they said the
federal agencies are gonna have to use this system for procurements,
for grants for business by the end of nineteen nine two.
It's going to be our government standard. But that loophole
was still there. If you were not a government agency,

(26:28):
it was up to your discretion whether you wanted to
go metric or if your private business, it's up to you.
You can still ship by the pound if you want, right.
So uh that that whole thing came into effect by
two and the U. S. Government was officially metric. Right. Yes, Um,
it's some of the some industries in the US took
the opportunity to go metric too, Like the pharmaceutical entry

(26:49):
industry went hard metric, which means it went all metric.
Um say, like the beverage industry went soft metric, sad,
which is why you can see um fluid, ounces and
millimeters right next to one another, living in harmony on
your can of soda. That's right. Tools are metric, bicycles,

(27:14):
tools are metric and standard though. Yeah, that's true, that's true.
Very good point. Film remember that stuff. Yeah, film is metric.
I hate saying was it's it still exists. Thirty five millimeter,
seventy millimeter, eight millimeter, oh yeah, super sixteen my favorite
sixteen millimeter. Uh and now, of course it saw just

(27:36):
on a digital card SD card, there's no card. That
was funny when we sidebar here. When we were shooting
our TV show, there's a tradition in which when you
shoot your hundredth roll of film, you pop some champagne
on set, and we did that, and I was like,
how do you know, Yeah, we're not shooting rolls of film.

(28:00):
Apparently there's some conversion that camera guys know that this
is the equivalent of our hunder throw the film. So
I Lance the the camera operator here. Yes, it's okay, um, extraordinary, extraordinary.
He he was explaining all this to me, but I
didn't realize that he was saying, like, this isn't a
metaphorical champagne thing, Like there's champagne in the other room,

(28:20):
and go get some. Josh. I was like, oh, thanks
for explaining, and like walked away. And then I see
like everybody else kind of bust and I'm like, I
didn't get any champagne. He didn't this whole product. No,
I had no idea what metaphorical. I went off to
my dressing room. Okay, it's like we're all standing around drinking.
I had no idea that Lance was sweet about it.

(28:42):
He was, But at the same time, I was like,
why is Lance looking at me weird while I'm walking away?
All right, So, as of now, some people estimate about
of American manufactured products and companies have gone metric. Not
too bad, but the public at large has still uh

(29:02):
push back for a few reasons, costs being one of them.
It's expensive to two change all these documents and change
your company two over to metric. I think NASA said
it would cost three and seventy million dollars to change
all of our drawings and tens of thousands, I'm sorry,
thousands of man hours just for the space shuttle. Yeah,

(29:24):
and man, am I glad they didn't go to the
trouble doing that. Ways. Uh So, money is one thing.
You can't just jump to the Metric system overnight. But
you can also make a case, if I may interrupt, chuck,
that money can also be saved using NASA as an example.
Also UM in NASA lost its Mars climate orbiter because

(29:47):
the UM attitude control system was on our Imperial system,
our US customary system, right inches that kind of thing,
but the navigation says, the guiding the thing was on
the Metric system or the SI system. That's where you
gets screwed and there was a discrepancy and it flew
too close to the planet, overheated and is now just

(30:11):
a million dollar space jump. Wow, they couldn't figure that out.
I thought they had probably I guess, or else they
just didn't think of it, or I bet they thought
of it. They was probably an error. Uh And the
author of this article points out that stubbornness and individualism
is another reason Americans haven't, especially if it's the French

(30:32):
that are pushing pushing it on its right exactly. I
don't know about that. UM A while, I don't know
how it first came up whenever we talked about the
metric system. But years ago when of um, somebody listens
to us named Amy Wang sent in her her graduate
thesis for design school and it's called a metrica. Do
you remember that? I do remember that, so UM I

(30:54):
looked it up again and apparently it was this whole
thing of like basically putting metric ings into normal everyday
things into metric terms. So like your your coffee mate,
say this has this many mill leaders in it? Or
a taxicab, you know the little signs they have on
on the roof. I saw one where it's driving and
it shows how fast it's going in kilometers per hour.

(31:17):
So what do they any by standards? Little things to
just slowly convert people to the idea. And this is
something that the our thesis on like this is a
proposal that we should try and do. Yeah, something like that.
I don't know if it's going anywhere, but I think
there's some validity to that as far as Americans go.
You would have to. We don't like things being pushed
on us, which is probably why they always made it

(31:38):
up to you. Yeah, you know, yeah, either that or
business interests were like, just take away that compulsory part
and then just kind of sneak it in little by
little over the years. Although is it a big dealing more? Yeah,
I think ultimately like we can kiss the US customary
system goodbye. You think? I think so sure? I mean, like,

(31:58):
it's it's that whole globalization thing. And if the business
interests were the ones holding it back before, then they're
going to be the ones driving it now. They're like,
let's just go to metric. It's gonna make everything way better.
Did you ever see the deal with Minimir in Liberia?
Why why they're the other two? No, Liberia, I imagine
would be because it was originally a US callin that

(32:20):
was about because of US. I don't know about me
and r at all. I have no idea why they
wouldn't be. Melomar's right, delicious, Yeah, let's see you get
anything else. I've got nothing else. So the answer is check.
The US is pretty much on the metric system. That's right.
We got a lot of it, a lot of it. Okay,
if you start looking around for things that have meters

(32:42):
and middle leaders and leaders, you're gonna see a lot
of it here. Just open your eyes, man, right If
you want to know more about um the metric system,
We've got a couple of things on the website about it,
pretty interesting stuff. Just type metric system into the handy
search part how stuff works dot com and uh, I
said handy search partage means it's time for a listener

(33:03):
mail cash Iman. We call this uh be inspired someone
to do something different in their life. Okay, hey guys,
I thought i'd never be writing in but I thought
you should know this. I've been listening for a while.
I love your podcast. Listen to him while I do
my homework to make it a little less tedious. So
I live an Anchorage, Alaska and go to high school there. Recently,

(33:24):
I've been introduced to a certain program called Rotary. This program,
among other things, since and receive students looking to study abroad.
I would just like to say that you guys have
really inspired me to participate in this program the next
academic year. I was always so consumed with trying to
be normal, even though I never really was such a
common experience. I know been since I've started listening to

(33:45):
your Guys podcast, I have come to realize how much
I don't know and have to learn. Uh. I've had
quite a time watching and listening to people who are smart, cultured,
and eloquent, like John Stewart, for example, who I love,
uh and you and I do too. I was consious
that you're saying that was her, but it's us right
where see? Like John? Stay okay, I want to speak

(34:06):
to you guys share the same qualities. Wow, how about
that we share qualities with John Stewart. I don't find
you know alright. I love the idea of becoming a
better person purely through the appreciation of knowledge. I'm hoping
that my trip next year will be an eye opener
since I live in such a cutoff environment up here
in Alaska. How that I'm complaining. I also hope it

(34:27):
will prepare me for going into the Peace Corps. It's
a civil engineer, man, that's awesome. I probably would not
have had the courage to sign up for this stuff
myself and deliver abroad for a whole year if it
wasn't for you guys in your podcast. I won't know
where I'm going until December, or which language I'll have
to learn. Some of the options are places like Brazil, Denmark, Finlin, Germany, Russia, Cool,

(34:48):
South Africa, Thailand or Turkey. Those are all great. Turkey,
You're not a Turkey fan. I'm just getting parts of Turkey.
You're beautiful. I'm really glad that I am pushing myself.
We that Turkish guy that wrote in remember after we
bagged on Turkey and he sent the pictures like, what
do you think of this? Yeah? Look at least topless speeches.
Didn't you win something? Didn't you win? That is all? Oh?

(35:11):
Maybe so did send to him? I can't remember. Yes
we did, was the answer. Okay, I'm really glad that
I'm pushing myself out of my comfort zone enough to
do this. Guys, I'm so excited. Thank you very much.
Maybe I'll send you a postcard while there. And that
is from Sydney. That is fantastic, Sydney. We take full
credit for pushing you to do this, so long as
you have a triumphant and successful return if anything happens

(35:34):
to have never heard of you, um, but congratulations on that.
That's pretty awesome and huge and thanks for writing in
and letting us know that, Um, let's see what do
you got? I don't know. What are some other things
that America has been stubborn about. Oh, that's a good one,
chuck Man, that's a good one. Examples of American stubbornness.

(35:55):
We want to hear him. You can tweet to us
at s Y s K podcast. You can join us
on Facebook dot com slash stuff as you know, and
you can send us a good old fashioned email to
Stuff podcast at Discovery dot com for more on this
and thousands of other topics, because it how stuff works.

(36:16):
Dot com

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