Metric campaigner dies

Supporters of completing metrication will be saddened to learn of the death of Australian consultant and campaigner, Pat Naughtin.

Pat died on 16 July 2011 after a long illness. His partner, Wendy, writes:

“It is with great sadness that I write to tell you that my beloved Pat died on Saturday. He was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer in March 2010, and since then has had chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and survived a  large operation last year. Throughout he not only continued his correspondence and newsletters,he also gave talks to groups all over Victoria, some as large as 400 to 600people, and some as small as 20, urging people to have a bowel scan. Bowel cancer has one of the best survival rates if detected early. Pat’s Rotary club actively promoted scans and Pat helped in their promotion, but never had one himself.

There will be two more newsletters, as Pat wanted to finish them at 100 – he was only sorry that this wouldn’t happen in October!

In honour of Pat please have a bowel scan.”

UKMA members who attended the 2007 AGM and Annual Conference will remember Pat’s keynote presentation, in which he described Australia’s successful conversion to the metric system in the 1970s. During his stay in England he also visited the British Library, where he unearthed a previously little known passage from Bishop John Wilkins’ 1668 essay in which he proposed a universal system of measurement on decimal principles.  Pat even managed to get the BBC’s science correspondent to report the discovery, and the result can be seen in part of this newsclip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2TQDCuNol4&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL.

Pat also maintained a formidable website, http://www.metricationmatters.com/, and published a regular newsletter.  It is to be hoped that the valuable material in Pat’s website can be maintained in some form.

UKMA’s condolences go to Wendy and their family.

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12 Responses to Metric campaigner dies

  1. John Frewen-Lord says:

    I had the honour of meeting Pat at that meeting in London , and have corresponded many times privately with him since. This news was such a shock, and so sad. I will miss him greatly, but not half as much as Wendy will, and I can only add my deepest sympathies to Robin’s message. Pat to me was a force for good in the world, and we have surely lost one of its greatest crusaders. The world, but especially those countries not yet fully metricated, will be all the more poorer as a result of his passing.

    As a sidenote, I had my most recent bowel cancer screening done just three weeks ago as it happened, and was pronounced all clear. I never realised how serious it could be, and so I endorse Wendy’s message wholeheartedly.

  2. philh says:

    I too had the pleasure of meeting Pat in London and have corresponded with him on other occasions.
    I found his views refreshingly positive and he was able to speak with great confidence because of his vast experience in advising on metrication and monitoring progress in industry all over the world.
    His contribution to the historical record with his discovery of the article by Bishop John Wilkins is invaluable. The fact that Bishop Wilkins proposed his idea independently shows that the system has a certain natural logic which right minded people will inevitably embrace.

  3. Jake says:

    I am very sad to hear of Pat’s death and I extend my heartfelt condolences to his partner Wendy. Pat was a great and a natural communicator. He explained the advantages of the metric system in clear language understandable to the layman. His research into the work of Bishop Wilkins raised the debate on the origins of the metric system to a new level since it became clear that a decimal system of measurement was first mooted in Britain. Thank you for that work, Pat. It was good to have met you.

  4. Martin Vlietstra says:

    It was a shock to hear of Pat’s passing. His newsletters and website were filled with gems and a good deal of sound research. Items that caught my eye were firstly his unearthing John Wilkins’ paper in which a metric system was first proposed in 1668, his list of a hundred or more units of energy, all of which could be replaced by the joule (or multiple or sub-multiple thereof) and his list of quotations from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran concerning units of measure.

    I have certainly publicised Wilkins’ proposals in Wikipedia giving links back to Pat’s PDF of the original document and of his transcription. I am pleased to say that I have seen a number of references on the Internet to Wilkins, due to Pat’s initial research.

    Pat’s quotes about measures from the “Holy Books” emphasised honesty when making measurement – something which is difficult when there is a plethora of measurement from which to choose. It is important that the list of quotes which he complied be made easily accessible as a set.

    I understand that Pat has made arrangements for his website to be maintained, but given the short lifetime of websites, I think it important that, subject to the appropriate consent from Pat’s executors regarding copyright, the most important parts of his legacy be republished on other websites such as the UKMA and USMA websites. I for one would like to be assured that copies of Wilkins’ paper remain easily accessible on the Internet – that would be a lasting a tribute to Pat’s work

  5. philh says:

    It was of course a shock to hear of Pat’s death and now that I have had more time to collect my thoughts I would like add to my previous comment.

    Pat’s final campaign on an entirely different subject, being conducted in such tragic cirmumstances, shows he was a man of great courage and compassion. He clearly wanted to do what he could to help save people from needlessly suffering the same fate as himself.

    We can therefore share in Wendy’s proud memory of a fine man who was an example to us all.

  6. Ezra says:

    I, too, am quite shocked and saddened by Pat’s passing.

    Martin’s suggestions are “spot on” regarding Pat’s published legacy. Let’s hope there are ways to preserve his contributions and to build on them.

  7. Tony says:

    I met Pat when he came to the UK and found him both knowledgeable and friendly, and subscribed to his excellent Metrication Matters newsletters. I was very saddened to hear of his death, and would like to add my condolences to his family.

  8. Han Maenen says:

    I am saddened about Pat passing away. He was a beacon to all supporters of metrication. Hereby I add my condolences to his family and wish them much strength.

  9. derekp says:

    Pat’s obituary was published on Thursday, 2011-08-11, in the daily Melbourne newspaper ‘The Age’:
    http://tinyurl.com/3lcwtwc

  10. Mary says:

    Bishop John Wilkins’ work is explained very well in the following YouTube video:
    TEDxMelbourne – Pat Naughtin – Saving Millions with the Metric System
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lshRAPvPZY

    Politicians should be encouraged to look at this video.

  11. Ed the Yank says:

    Dear Folks,
    I know many of the readers of Metric Views UK are American Citizens. For World Standards week and in memory of Pat Naughtin i posted a petition to the US government for quick change to SI units. The quick link is https://wh.gov/2yt I need signers by 11 Nov.

  12. Judy Rene says:

    The news of Pat’s death truly was a shock to us, since we had developed a close association with him for advice and his informative newsletter ‘Metrication matters’. Pat had become our mentor, inspiration and motivator for the metrication project of Saint Lucia. His incredible source of information and direction will be greatly missed.
    On behalf of the Government of Saint Lucia, Chairman and Metrication Board Members, and Staff of the Saint Lucia Metrication Secretariat, deepest sympathy is extended to Wendy and family. May he rest in peace.

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