Opinion: Are you ready for Metric?
Commentary by Melkote Ramaswamy, Ph. D.
Whether you like it or not, America will have to switch to the metric system. The question is no longer if, but when?
Meters and kilograms are the basic units of the metric system. But in practice, multiples and submultiples are used. Tens are easier to handle. For instance, isn’t it so much convenient to add eight millimeters and 16 millimeters than 5/16 inch and 5/8 inch?
We may not have noticed it, but America is already partially metric. Athletes are all too familiar with the 100-meter dash. Many of you may have taken part in the March of Dimes 5k walk. Gun owners talk of 38mm caliber and camera buffs are too cozy with 35mm.
Inspire of all the tooling expenses involved in conversion, in the long run metric will make for smoother international machine trade. The world will bless America for it. Remember the United Kingdom gave up LSD (Pounds-Shillings-Pence). Aren’t we glad we have dollars and cents, which are metric?
Until people become familiar with the metric system, some numbers will sound ridiculous. How do you comprehend a 90-60-90 figure or hectare of land? (For the heck of it, it is 2.5 acres.)
Some companies are already doing their bit towards the metric system—the soda people with their liter bottles and the tobacco companies with 100mm cigarettes.
The next time you order a pizza don’t bother to convert. Just ask for a large one with everything on it. Let the waiter do the math.
Melkote Ramaswamy is a Westfield resident and has a Ph. D. in Nuclear Physics from Johns Hopkins University. He has taught at Ohio State, Fordham University, Karnatak University and Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani, Rajasthan. He was an NSF Distinguished Foreign Scientist and has worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He has served on the Editorial Board of “Logistics Spectrum.” He is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (FASc) and has published over 100 technical articles in International journals. He is the author of “An Immigrant Celebrates America,” published by the University of Indianapolis Press in 2007 and “Vedanta thru Drushtaanta” (Adhyatma Press, Ahmedabad 2013).