50 years of Celsius weather forecasts – time to kill off Fahrenheit for good?

Fifty years ago, on 15th October 1962, British weather forecasts switched over from the Fahrenheit scale to Celsius. Fifty years on, some parts of the British media inexplicably cling on to Fahrenheit measures, and the UK Metric Association (UKMA) says it’s time to kill off Fahrenheit for good.

[Press release issued on 15 October 2012]

The UK Met Office has used the Celsius scale – formerly known as “centigrade” – in its work since 1st January 1961, to allow for greater international co-operation and because of the convenience of the scale. As the Met Office reported in 1962, this “led to the consideration of the desirability of introducing it in weather reports and forecasts for the general public.”

With the agreement of industry and the government, the Celsius scale was given after Fahrenheit from January 1962 as an interim measure, and then from the 15th October, Celsius became the primary unit given, with Fahrenheit retained as a secondary unit to aid the transition “for a period of several years.”

The Met Office is to be commended for accomplishing the change to the metric system of measurement so rapidly, in sharp contrast to some other parts of the government, such as the Department for Transport, which is still, fifty years later, dithering even about adding metres to safety-critical warning signs.

However, despite this early and rapid switch to Celsius-first forecasting, at the time of switchover, there was no timetable for the withdrawal of the Fahrenheit secondary measure. Says UKMA Chairman Robin Paice, “The officials at the Met Office in 1962 would almost certainly be incredulous at the prospect that, fifty years later, some media outlets would still be using Fahrenheit, and in some quarters, even as the primary scale. Two generations have now passed since Celsius was introduced, and yet we still see occasional headlines, normally in hot weather, about the temperature given in Fahrenheit.”

UKMA believes that with fifty years of Celsius weather forecasting now behind us, it is time for the British media to ditch Fahrenheit for good. “Media outlets should reflect on how they reported decimalisation; “new pence” are almost a decade younger than the Celsius temperature scale, and yet no newspapers feel the need to convert pence to shillings in their reports, and rightly so; why cling on to an even more obsolete temperature scale?”

The Met Office declined an invitation to comment.

177 thoughts on “50 years of Celsius weather forecasts – time to kill off Fahrenheit for good?”

  1. Good grief! Australia switched to Celsius in September 1972 and that was it! No changeover. I liked to joke that we didn’t know whether we were hot or cold for two years!

    Now young Australians have no idea what Fahrenheit is all about.

    Like

  2. With some Googling, I found a Met Office page giving the London forecast. I don’t know whether to be glad they offer no units choice on temperature, or sad that they offer no units choice on wind (miles per hour). I guess they know what is best for you. Would I be right to assume they do NOT offer Fahrenheit data to the media, the media has to do their own conversion? If that is true, the media is pretty committed to their position to do the conversion of all the data every day.

    Both US and Canadian forecasts place an Imperial/metric switch somewhere in the page. You may like having a comparison to those forecasts (Both are scripts and will have the same appearance for any selected location, nationwide).

    The Environment Canada forecast for Windsor, Ontario (directly across the river from Detroit):
    http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/city/pages/on-94_metric_e.html
    This is the metric page. The switch is hidden in the unit symbol of the “current conditions” temperature. It defaults to metric if you choose a new location, but the user can change it.

    The National Weather Service forecast for a point near Detroit City Airport (a secondary airport, but closest to Windsor):
    http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=42.40536687752784&lon=-83.02995177734374&FcstType=text&unit=1&lg=en
    If the units are not metric, there is a link at the bottom for International System of Units which is the switch. Some observations are given as dual no matter which you ask for. The NWS page defaults to Imperial (Customary, really) and you have to find the switch. If you bookmark a location, your units choice is stored in the link.

    Is choice better? I don’t know. But I think consistency of unit systems, all metric or all Imperial is probably better than a mixed bag, which I can’t see the purpose to. The downside of choice is that those reluctant to change can resist change. The up side is that those who prefer the change can change all at once, not one unit at a time.

    Like

  3. The only people I know who use fahrenheit are my grandparents who are in their late eighties. My grandfather talks in celsius when discussing weather with me, and my parents who are in their late 50s use it exclusively. My only other exposure to the old system is when dealing with Americans online and they always seem willing to translate alongside.

    Like

  4. Ask either of my (Canadian) children, 39 and 36, what today’s temperature is in Fahrenheit, and they’ll look at you with a blank stare, as would most Canadians under 50.

    Like

  5. Without mentioning any names, I put a certain amount of blame for the lingering presence of Fahrenheit in the UK on weather forecasters on radio and television who even now continue to refer back to that scale. On BBC London weather forecasts we are occasionally ‘treated’ to a flashback to the past in the summer months. Just this summer a forecaster announced that the conversion of 16 degrees was easy as you simply reversed the two digits. That kind of information might be useful in a pub quiz but I can’t see what place it has in a weather forecast on TV.

    Like

  6. In 2003, here in the still-pre-metric U.S., I went over to my indoor-outdoor thermometers and secured the conversion switches in the Celsius position forever. The result was that I have been a Celsius American ever since. One result was that I did the same thing to my last rental car and, throughout my trip, adjusted my heat/air-conditioning thermostat using only Celsius, and with the same understanding “feel” with which used to use Fahrenheit. I remember looking down to see why my nose was getting frosted and saw that I had turned the dial down to 17!! From personal experience, even in the face of a society that hasn’t a clue yet about Celsius, I know that total conversion is the sure way to full adoption of the modern metric system.

    Like

  7. I saw a corker of an article in my local paper today. It spoke of some warm weather coming the way of the UK next week and it stated (with no coversions) “the south of the UK will see temperatures of 20 C next week with the midlands seeing 60 F. Work that one out !

    Like

  8. I’m probably older then the norm here, but can say with some certainty that my parents in their early 80’s certainly only mention temperatures in °C. Indeed, my father commented at one point recently that he and my mother had been on one of these SAGA “oldies” cruises where the tour operators had had to switch the ship from the advertised one due to a mechanical problem. The only spare ship they could use was (in my father’s words) “obviously set up for Americans, because all the on-ship weather report screens were displaying in Fahrenheit and it took a fair bit of getting used-to”.

    This from a man who had been been brought up to use Faherenheit (for weather) for pretty much his first 40 or so years (half his life).

    I must admit, I hardly ever hear the broadcast media use °F any more – just the odd aside from time to time, the most odd case being the presenter on the BBC’s Olympics programme back in the summer who one evening referred to the stadium “being in the low 80’s this evening”.

    The main Fahrenheit culprit that I know of at the moment in the Daily Express’s columnist Nathan Rao who writes article after article of wildly inaccurate weather-related articles using °F in summer and °C in winter. The contributors to his articles’ comment-pages of the online edition often slag him off for both the inaccuracy and the useless summer temperature scale, but he pays no attention.

    Like

  9. It would be interesting to know just why Americans never adopted Celsius themselves. What is so special and endearing to them about a temperature scale which the weather professionals and surely every other country in the world have adopted? How do Americans cope when they travel abroad? How do Americans compare their weather with other parts of the world? Or do they really go to the time and trouble of converting everything into Fahrenheit? Is there any logical reason for not using Celsius?

    Like

  10. Well, the US does not “just” use Fahrenheit, or US Customary in general. It is a mess of dual units. Certainly all of science and some of engineering use Celsius. The National Weather Service uses Celsius in METAR and other aviation products, but defaults to Fahrenheit for the general public. If you look at their web products (I linked one for Detroit above), the user can choose between metric and Customary units. (This is NOT generally true for websites sponsored by TV stations, newspapers, etc.)

    The reason it is not adopted more broadly is Congressional doublespeak. Congress asserts metric is the preferred system of measure but also asserts adoption of metric must be voluntary and has passed a few laws “protecting” the “rights” of those who don’t wish to convert, abdicating their responsibility under the Constitution to fix the system of weights and measures. Those who want to be metric, can be, and those who don’t want to be metric, don’t have to be. When it has to be one or the other, those who prefer US Customary usually win, but quite a number of things have to be expressed in dual units by law.

    The UK has a minor mess with miles of road and pints of beer, we have a GIANT mess with dual units in nearly everything. Anyone who travels abroad significantly knows the world is metric and one should brush up on metric lessons from school. but many Americans don’t travel abroad, or, or at least not frequently. As I pointed out in the Olympics thread, NBC sent a weatherman to report the weather in Customary units as part of their staff covering the Olympics, rather than expose us to UK weather reports. Our media is perhaps more determined to pretend metric doesn’t exist than the public in general. I think the public could have handled it, but NBC obviously didn’t think so.

    Like

  11. This is from a British newspaper today: “After days of unseasonable weather of up to 68F (20C), temperatures will struggle to reach double digits over the coming days.” Do readers of that newspaper not notice the sheer lunacy of using Fahrenheit while stating that ‘temperatures will struggle to reach double digits’? Clearly the person who wrote those words was referring to double digits on the Celsius scale, otherwise it would mean that the temperature will struggle to rise above 9 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 13 degrees Celsius). By continuing to use Fahrenheit as its main temperature scale – fifty (!) years after the country actually switched to Celsius – this newspaper is undermining the work of teachers, parents and even meteorologists – everyone who tries to impart an understanding of temperature to children and adults alike. It is causing taxpayers’ money to be wasted. Yet this newspaper is one of the loudest to shout when it itself feels that taxpayers’ money is being wasted by government. For parts of the media in the UK to insist on using a temperature scale that has actually been abandoned by the government is a total abdication of responsibility towards the UK as a whole.

    Like

  12. We should not be surprised by the quote reported by Jake. The Mail and Telegraph have “absent-for-tax purposes” owners while the the Sun and Times are controlled by a US citizen. Why should they care what their papers print so long as the advertising revenue keeps rolling in?

    Like

  13. Australia also has papers owned by Rupert Murdoch but they still report things in metric units. Therefore I wouldn’t just blame the owners for the mess of units in British papers.

    Like

  14. My central heating thermostat is in °C only. My fridge/freezer is in °C only. My oven is in °C only. My car dashboard thermometer is in °C only. My medical thermometer is in °C only.

    I don’t think I have ever seen any UK equipment that displays temperature use anything other than °C (and my memory goes back to the late 1960s).

    Like

  15. I agree that the entire world should use the same measurement standards – for all measurements. I spend as much time websurfing and thinking globally as I do nationally (I was born in and I live in the U.S. but I don’t like to call myself that ugly word “American”). So I spend as much time with metric measurements as I do American (former “English”) measurements. I am also a weather buff. Even my browsers’ home page is world weather. The one aspect of the Celsius scale of temp measurement that I don’t like (as used in non-scientific settings), and prefer Fahrenheit is the higher degree of precision a non-decimal Fahrenheit reading provides vs. its non-decimal Celsius equivalent. I much prefer the 2.12 times greater precision of Fahrenheit degrees vs. Celsius degrees. Best option would be for common use of Celsius to include one decimal, but it isn’t common practice. So I don’t particularly like using Celsius as practiced worldwide – too general for me to determine what the “real” temp is, since I can literally feel a 1 degree F change in temp and because a 1 degree F change in your thermostat setting can add up to a lot of extra heating cost over a cold winter. But start adding one decimal to your Celsius temp readings and I’m all for switching over!

    Like

  16. In response to Arian, I’ve heard this comment before, usually as a justification not to metricate. The smaller increments between degrees in Fahrenheit versus Celsius does not in any way, shape or form imply precision or accuracy. If the precision is not there to begin with, the smaller increments work out only to a lot of noise.

    Celsius is more natural then Fahrenheit, its increments very much in tune with nature. It is an illusion that someone can feel a one Fahrenheit degree difference in temperature. My experience in travelling the world is that there is a greater dependence on thermometers in areas where Fahrenheit is used and less dependence where Celsius is used. I’ve been told by Celsius natives they don’t rely on thermometers as their bodies can accurately measure the temperature. You may be a very rare person if you can discern a Fahrenheit change, most Fahrenheit users can’t. Home thermostats are actually accurate only to a one Celsius degree change and in Fahrenheit to 2 degrees, so a change in one Fahrenheit degree results in no extra costs or savings as you claim.

    There are at least two instances I’m aware of where Fahrenheit does not work. The first is in the resistance change in electrical wire based on temperature. The formula only works in Celsius and thus there is no formula for Fahrenheit.

    The second is the determination of the speed of sound in the atmosphere based on the local temperature. Only Celsius (and kelvins too) works.

    There is no reason you can’t discern a temperature to a decimal part of a degree with Celsius, but for the most part it isn’t necessary and just adds confusion where it isn’t needed. If it were, the world would be doing it, and they aren’t.

    It appears to me that this type of excuse is what opponents use to get attention, then, once they get it, start to make other claims, like the metre is too big or the gram is too small and lo and behold, the inch, foot and pound are just right.

    There is a reason that scientists and engineers the world over use Celsius and other metric units and avoid Fahrenheit and inches whenever then can. It is because in every aspect, the metric units are far, far superior and user friendly. I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t experience it myself.

    Like

  17. With few exceptions BBC London weather forecasts are all-Celsius, but one of their new presenters has adopted the irritating habit of informing viewers that 10 degrees Celsius is ’50 in Fahrenheit’. But she only seems to do this for 10 degrees. Now, if someone (say, an American tourist) genuinely doesn’t understand Celsius, giving them one spot conversion isn’t going to help them much. They’ll probably look on an American internet site for the weather anyway. And the phrase ‘in Fahrenheit’ seems to me to be a direct copy of how they say things on CNN. Perhaps the lady concerned thinks using that phrase adds a transatlantic ring to her weather forecast since I am sure most British English speakers would say so-many degrees ‘Celsius’ not ‘in Celsius ‘ and the same for Fahrenheit. But the point is a country like the UK does not need two temperature scales that do not complete each other in any way: think 32 degrees Fahrenheit versus 32 Celsius and you will see what I mean. People should be able to use whatever scales they like in their own home but, in the same way as a common language binds a country together, a common temperature scale used and understood by everyone also ensures that everyone understands what is meant. Heat and cold can be a matter of life and death, even in a relatively moderate climate such as the UK, and forecasters should help viewers to understand not only temperature averages for the time of year but also when there is a risk of an extreme or a risk to life or health due to the weather. Juggling between different scales does not contribute to that goal in any way.

    Like

  18. I regret to observe that Fahrenheit conversions are still being quoted by TV weather presenters in the UK.
    However it seems to be confined to regional rather than national stations and there is no consistency even among those that do. They also stop short of converting all readings and sometimes not at all.
    All I can say is that if there are viewers out there who are genuinely unable to comprehend weather forecasts in Celsius they must be struggling. They would do well to catch up with the times.
    At any rate these sporadic token conversions are a complete nonsense.

    Like

  19. BBC Wales’s weather man used to do the odd spot conversion, especially on the later evening forecasts, but he seems to have stopped now. The last time I heard this happen on TV, it was ITV London’s weather presenter – regardless of where you are in the UK, it seems you get London continuity (adverts, news & weather) if you watch ITV HD. So though I wouldn’t normally notice (not living in the London region) I did because of this. Not noticed it on any other ITV region – must be a presenter thing.

    And to be honest – there’s the problem. You can’t really promote a policy of “time to kill off Fahrenheit for good” because there’s no-one on which to target it. There’s certainly no official policy to keep °F going in any way – you’d have to compile a list of presenters known to do it, email them and ask them politely if they’d kindly stop doing it.

    However, though it may be cluttering up the forecast, and ultimately be useless, it’s almost a free speech issue. Surely the presenters should be free to say what they like as long as it is decent?

    Like

  20. We have to, some how, convince broadcasters and presenters that it isn’t necessary to do conversions.
    We can only do it by reasoned argument and gentle persuation. Let’s hope some of them get to read this blog.

    Like

  21. While we are at it, are we going to ask them to stop converting rain/snowfall to inches? Or should we just be happy that they are quoting the metric measure as the primary indicator? The BBC Breakfast weather presenters often seem to make this conversion eg ‘heavy rainfall of 30mm is expected, that’s over one inch’. Personally, I would prefer to hear just the 30 mm, but what about those may be thinking ‘oh, so 30 mm is over an inch’ and then making the link? Or is it just reinforcing the concept that metric is regarded as the scientific measure, and the conversion is given for the layman?

    Like

  22. As the article states, temperatures in Fahrenheit were to be continued to be given from October 1962 as a secondary unit for a period of several years to ease the transition to Celsius. By any stretch of the imagination that period has by now passed. Fahrenheit is now in the same category as so-called supplementary indications in imperial measures in shops: they serve no purpose other than to stop people getting used to or using the real unit of measurement. It is indeed as if prices were still given in shillings and pence alongside decimal pence. If can be fun to think back to those old units and others in a sort of ‘how we used to live’ context, but the proper units should be used today for communication with the public. That means Celsius in weather forecasts. Instead of merely hoping presenters will read this blog perhaps the UKMA could have a quiet word with the Met Office!

    Like

  23. I grew up learning about both Fahrenheit and Centigrade scales, and how to convert from one to the other. However, during the same period, Fahrenheit was the normal scale used by me, my family, extended family, neighbours – the country used it as ‘the norm’ for temperatures.
    Even now when I think heat, I think °F. So I’m probably in the 2nd last generation who thought Fahrenheit. There’s probably just one more then it will die out from use naturally.
    BTW, I still think of 50p as 10/-, so there!

    Like

  24. @Wild Bill

    I assume British presenters work for a living. It is a paid speech issue, not free speech, and they need to comply with employer guidelines (or leave). The station may not have or enforce a policy, but I don’t see it as free speech (it may be a free speech issue for the station).

    I would expect public pressure, if you could marshall it, would make the station consider their policies. It certainly affects US broadcasters (although USMA could never marshall enough public opinion to get US broadcasters to use degrees C, we are clearly in the minority).

    Like

  25. I think the same should apply to ‘inches’ in the weather forcasts also. They have come to the fore again with all this rain of late.
    On BBC news weather last night (Friday) the weather presenter was standing in front of a screen showing ’20 to 40 mm of rain’. The blurb was somewhat different ”… almost two inches of rain, thats 50 mm …”, so with just one presenter and one double translation we get between 25% and 150% error in one hit. Now to all those pro inches people, and the BBC, just what information did this provide to those that could not understand the on-screen mm indication? Nothing, absolutely nothing. So what is the point exactly? None, none whatsoever.
    Just a waste of space, time, money and effort. Our money at that.

    Like

  26. Better not.
    Because it is easier to understand our own health using Fahrenheit. We know that we are NORMAL (no fever) if our body temperature is 98.4F. 100F and above is bad for us.
    The centigrade scale for body temperature is less intuitive to mere mortals.

    Like

  27. I have always understood that Herr Fahrenheit wanted 100 degrees on his scale to be body temperature, used his own body temperature for his experiments but as he had an abnormally low body temperature he got it wrong and body temperature on his antiquated scale turned out to be 98.4. The scale is therefore arguably not even accurate for the pupose for which it was designed. There is nothing ‘intuitive’ about Fahrenheit. I grew up with it as well as with shillings and pence, but as the country changed so did I. I see no objection to people using any scale they wish in their private lives, or even making up their own, but this article is about having a single scale for providing information to the general public by the media and government and no purpose is served by switching between scales other than to cause confusion. We have had fifty years of this issue failing to settle down but I have no doubt that American failure to adopt Celsius (not centigrade) for communication with the public has a lot to do with it.

    Like

  28. @RT
    Well at least this blows the myth put forward by your fellow Farenheiter above about not liking to use decimals for precision, it has to be used in either scale. As for body temperature in UK (I assume you are in UK?), I think you will find that the NHS has used Celius for quite a few years now.
    Further more the modern thinking has increased the body temperature to 37 deg Celcius which is 98.8F.
    Now explain to this 70 year old why 98.6 or 98.8 is easier to remember than 37??? Why is the benchmark of 100 (104 is fever pitch I thought) easier to remember than 40???
    Why is the centigrade scale for body temperature is less intuitive to mere mortals? To me it seems a lot easier to remember, and at my age I need all the help I can get.

    Like

  29. This continued use of inches and Fahrenheit in weather forecasts runs the risk of perpetuating dualism in this one area of daily life, which is itself quite unfortunate.

    Worse, though, is that it reinforces the notion (both amongst the populace and also for visitors) that the UK is not truly a metric country and thus hinders full adoption in all areas of daily life (think personal weight and height).

    Editorial policy does not constrain free speech if it stipulates that only metric units are to be used when presenting on the BBC. But that is not likely in the foreseeable future.

    In the meantime perhaps UKMA could establish John Wilkins’ birthday as the birth of the Father of the Metric System with education programs, interviews, etc. That could be one way to counter the false notion that clinging to archaic Imperial measures is a way of fending off the nefarious influence of those dangerous French revolutionaries! 😉

    Like

  30. @BrianAC
    Metrication is NOT an issue. “Demanding exclusively” is the evil.
    37C & 40C- I thought Metric people like 5, 10, 50 and 100 and numbers like 3, 7 & 4 are too hard?
    Try dividing 5, 10, 50, 100 by 3, 7 or 4 – and you will know why the metric system is not that great.

    Like

  31. @RT
    Sorry RT, here we go back to to base 10 argument again. As it happens I personally am a fan of duo-decimal so agree with the divide by 3 and 4 bit, but it quite simply never can nor will happen so it is a dead issue.
    Now every single person on the planet Earth uses base 10, it comes from having 10 digits on our hands I guess, that is the decimal system, it is used in both the metric and the imperial system. I have used base 4, 8 and 16 in data and computing. Base 10 includes 12 inches to a foot, 12 pence to a shilling and 20 shillings to the pound which are still counted in base 10 and added in groups of 10+2 or 10×2.
    It also seems you do not like the fact that Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons et al all have the same system of measurement and currency ‘forced’ apon them in order that us plebs can understand what they are selling and at what price. I fail to see how any society could survive without common currency and measurement laws.
    Your final point I agree totally that the DECIMAL system (base 10)is not great, but the METRIC system using the well known DECIMAL system makes the best of a bad job.

    Like

  32. Just hearing the BBC weather again, it seems BBC rain inches are here to stay now.

    Like

  33. RT: Until very recently we were faced with ‘exclusively’ imperial units on road signs; some metric units are now appearing, thank goodness. We see ‘exclusively’ decimal prices in the shops, so anybody claiming not to understand decimal currency must find shopping quite a headache. ‘Demanding exclusively’ works both ways. This article is about communication between the government, the media and the public. No other country in the world (and I know a few) chops and changes between units of measurement the way Britain does. People should speak whatever language they like and use whatever units of measurement or currency they like in their own private transactions, but there has to be an agreed norm between the authorities and the public, one ‘ measurement language’ that everyone can be expected to understand. That language – metric – has been taught in schools for forty years and is supposed to be the country’s official system of measurement. So in that sense, yes, it should be used ‘exclusively’ for all official purposes.

    Like

  34. @jake
    Even in Canada, body temperature is still officially recorded in deg F because the F scale was design taking body temp. (95 to 100 is safe) and with the weather 0 to 100 reserved for humans. The C scale on the otherhand was simply based on “lifeless” water freezing & boiling points.
    Things that shouldn’t change are mainly those that will affect health and safety. Misreading road signs can cause accidents and death. So we must “err” on the side of safety. A metric user will drive slower if he “thinks” 30mph is 30kph. The reverse is dangerous – 60kph is misread as 60mph – that is very dangerous. Have you not read of a man stuck under a bridge because the max. height was labelled in meters and he couldn’t fathom the height?
    Think and understand.

    Like

  35. @RT:

    “Try dividing 5, 10, 50, 100 by 3, 7 or 4 – and you will know why the metric system is not that great.”

    Quite why this type of division is a critical issue escapes me. Any measurement project does not usually break down into simple easily divisible numbers – that’s even if you need to do some division in the first place.

    I have just completed a quite ambitious DIY project, and the ease and simplicity of doing it in metric far, far outweighed any supposed advantage of being able to do some very specific and rarely used divisions.

    Like

  36. @RT
    You are suggesting that because 10 or 100 cannot be easily divided by 3 or 7 that somehow this is an impediment to metric measures. It may seem that way in theory, but in the real world of practical application of metric measures, it has almost no effect. One of the advantages of metric measures is that it has measurement units which divide by 2, 5, or 10, down to very small units. By using small units the 10 or 100 not being able to be divided by 3 or 7 is negated. Take for example 1 kilometre which is 1 000 metres. Divided by 3 is 333.333 metres which is 333 333 millimetres. If one wanted more precision we could extend the reoccuring 3 to 333.333333 metres, which is 333 333 333 micrometres, but at some point it becomes impractical in the real world of using the measures to keep extending into very small units. Therefore the fact that 10 or 100 cannot be divided by 3 is not a problem, and it only applies when the measurement is a factor of 10 . Can metric wallboard 1200 mm by 2400 mm be divided by 2, 3, 4, and 6. yes it can.

    Like

  37. Australia switched to Celsius 0n 1 September 1972 and that was that. Yes, it took a while to get used to Celsius temperatures, but we got the hang of it and never bothered with Fahrenheit again, except for occasional references to 100 in the old scale.

    The big bang method worked fine.

    Like

  38. @RT

    Here are three health articles from Canada involving body temperature. All three seem to be metric-primary. Where Fahrenheit is mentioned, it is supplemental information relegated to parentheses:
    https://myhealth.alberta.ca/health/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=hw198785&
    http://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/temperature-measurement

    Click to access fever.pdf

    Although I am American, I can also assure you that Environment Canada uses metric in their weather reports (except for aviation, where they use the same units as the US), and that all their road signs, particularly speed limits and bridge clearances are metric. Have you ever been to Canada? I used to go at least monthly, sometimes more often, on business (Toronto). It’s about 440 km.

    Canadians have managed the switch well, and even Americans survive driving there (for the most part). Are you suggesting British are dumber or less capable of managing change. I can’t see any basis for that assumption. (They might be more obstinate.)

    Like

  39. @RT:

    “A metric user will drive slower if he “thinks” 30mph is 30kph. The reverse is dangerous – 60kph is misread as 60mph – that is very dangerous. ”

    With all due respect, RT, this is utter nonsense. Only drivers from the UK and the US are ‘used’ to speed limits in miles per hour. The entire rest of the world, including Canada, uses km/h (and it it not ‘kph’). The fact is that drivers simply read the speed showing on their speedometers, and relate that to the posted speed limit. As long as both are in the same units, there is no problem.

    As almost the entire world uses km/h, then eliminating the use of mph in UK and US will solve any potential misreading of speedometers when travelling in either the UK or the US in a vehicle with a km/h-only speedometer.

    Like

  40. @RT:

    You make the point precisely that a mixture of two systems will cause confusion. The answer is to have a single system.

    Like

  41. The Celsius scale is more appropriate for weather reporting because it is based on the freezing point of water, a substance critical to the environment.
    As far as body temperature is concerned neither C or F have anything special to offer but we might as well use C.
    It is not “demanding” metric “exclusively” that is evil, it is perpetuating dual scales that is evil.

    Like

  42. Time and again we read this nonsense about the divisibility of 10 as somehow being a disadvantage in metric measurement.
    No measurement is exact. There is always uncertainty. A decimal system of measurement makes it easy to express information to any degree of precision we choose. For example if, for some reason, we wanted to divide a metre into 7 parts we can call it 14 cm or 143 mm or 142.8 mm or 142 857 micometre and so on. It just depends on the required accuracy.

    Like

  43. I have just been browsing clinical thermometers on sale in UK. Only one can I find that is dual scale. Most of the others don’t even bother to mention the scale, Celsius is what they are, so that is what you get and if you don’t know what that is then hard luck, you have had over 50 years to find out.
    The last Fahrenheit clinical thermometer I had got broken in 1982 after 20 years of world wide service. I have not seen one since.
    So, if you want to measure your temperature in degrees F you may well be on your own!
    It is a pity the same cannot be said in the NHS about body weight and height though. I was furious when last at the doctors and weighed myself on the regulation kg scales and the nurse said “would you like me to give you that in English units?” On that basis, what is the point of having nation wide (safety) regulations and statutory kg scales only for some (not so) stupid staff member to throw it all into confusion? Should that also be forbidden? Now I know how my wife came back from the doctors in feet and inches. I don’t understand her weight and height and she don’t understand mine.

    Like

  44. One reason we need divisibility by 3 is in navigation. The 12 points of the compass would be easier. The circle is one of the few things that cannot be metricated, as I am sure we all know. That is why it still has 360 degrees and not 10 or 100 or 300. The isometric projection of 30 degrees would be a bit tricky. This still has no relevance in the metric debate as the circle (pi) cannot be resolved whatever way you do it.

    Like

  45. @jake @John Frewen-Lord
    Re: Mixture of 2 systems.
    Our existing land lot, houses(building), furniture, roads, machiney etc. won’t miracurously have “metric dimensions” just because we are 100% metric. If we do not want to learn 2 systems, it means we want to be dumb and do not want to know how to convert.
    Don’t people realise that “the whole metric world” never sent anyone to the moon and back alive? Only America DID. The metric system with the “floating decimal point” and “reckless roundings” is error prone and less inaccurate due to “rounding up or down”. The imperial system that uses fractions. 1/2″, 1/4″, 1/8″, 1/16″ are “100% precise. Learning 2 systems means will be able to convert and avoid costly errors like the 125 million Mars orbiter loss by NASA – obviously some NASA engineers know longer knew how to convert from old accurately.
    If I only know metric, maybe I deserve to get a lower-pay since I am becoming more stupid.

    Like

  46. Hang on! Why stop at two systems? Let’s bring back the Enfield inch. That’s slightly different from the International inch, which is slightly different from the US Survey Inch. There are some uses for the older measures, especially for such things as describing screw sizes, but for most purposes, metric measures are just fine.

    Of course, wonders of measurement were achieved using the older measures, but that doesn’t justify the use of a system (or systems) that now are being superseded by something better.

    Like

  47. @RT

    Using two systems CAUSED the Mars Climate Auger. Purchasing contracts specified metric for all sub-suppliers. However, one lab, now owned by Lockheed Martin violated the terms and conditions of the contract and supplied data on a thruster in Customary units, but it was a computer file with no units, just naked numbers. This led to computational errors that destabilized attempts to place the orbitter in orbit. The NASA engineers didn’t know they needed to convert because they didn’t know the supplier had violated terms and conditions. Mixing systems ensures error, especially when units are not attached to the number and explicitly stated.

    I would also argue that fractions are not precise because precision machining that is not done in metric is done in decimal inches, and those fractions expressed in decimal just keep getting longer and longer. Precision machining is often done to the nearest 0.0001″ and working with fractions to the nearest 1/8192 or 1/16384 gets tiresome. My calculator is terrible at it, and I’m worse. We live in a digital world; get over the fractions.

    Like

  48. @RT
    Here are a couple of nice precise measurements taken from an American astronomical telescope article, ‘ … no part of the glass surface must depart more than 1/4 wave or 51/2 millionths of an inch from the specified shape. ‘ … and ‘this becomes 445/28 = 16X. Notice that this is in millimeters. It can also be done in inches, as: 17.5/1.1 = 16X. … ‘.
    I have to say this was the first time I had ever seen the wavelength of light in inches, I just had to keep the article. You can’t get much more precice than elswhere in the article ‘ … = 0.000027″ (2 3/4 millionths) … ‘ that we will all recognise instantly as the 1/8 wavelength of green light.

    Like

  49. @John Steel
    “Are you suggesting British are dumber”
    Please check death by road accident DATA. UK is #180 of about 189 nations – among the lowest in the world. Caring more for “PEOPLE’s life” – is a good BRITISH virtue & imperial road signs paid off.
    “We live in digital world”
    Digital means – binary NOT decimal. The Imperial System is binary 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 etc. The decimal metric system is NOT and requires a “floating point co-processor or software” to round up & down – introducing the inaccuracies most people do not realise.
    Vast quantity of past experimental research DATA were done, recorded and published in US customary units.
    Demanding “one METRIC system” now is NOT realistic nor practical. People who never send anyone to the moon, telling Americans to come down to their lower level?
    Learning how to convert is the way. In the digital age, google, computers, smartphones etc are invented by a free country using non-metric units. Freedom is the reason of success and to maintain freedom, metrication has to be voluntary.

    “NASA”
    NASA was successful for 50 years before Metricaton cause disasters. The official

    Like

  50. @RT
    “Imperial is binary”.
    We surely can’t be thinking of the same Imperial:
    12 inches to a foot, 3 feet to a yard, 22 x 10 x 8 yards to a mile;
    12 troy ounces to a troy pound;
    16 avoirdupois ounces to an avoidupois pound but 14 pounds to a stone,
    and 2 x 4 x 20 stones to a ton;
    22 x 22 x 10 square yards to an acre;
    20 fluid ounces to an Imperial pint.
    But, I agree there are 8 pints to a gallon, US or Imperial.
    Perhaps you were just thinking about the pub (and who can blame you?)

    Like

  51. @derekp
    Yes. … and the gallon is the only unit we really do no longer use in the UK! No connection of course.
    Talking of pubs, does anyone really know what a unit of alcohol is? I have no idea myself so another slug of wine I think.

    Like

  52. According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate deaths by road accidents in the UK are very low (3.59 per 100,000), but the death rate is lower in Sweden (2.9/100,000). Canada (9.2/100,000) and Australia (5.71/100,000) have a lower death rate for road accidents than the United States (12.3/100,000). So when you look at the figures there isn’t any evidence that imperial measurements keep road users safer.

    Australia changed its road signs in July 1974 and this happened without incident. Therefore the idea that changing the road signs would cause chaos is simply not sustainable.

    Like

  53. @RT,
    Wikipedia has an article on traffic fatalities measured by three metrics The obvious one is deaths per billion vehicle -kilometers, as the other two depend heavily on the percent of car ownship. The UK has an excellent record at 5.7. However, Australia is very comparable at 5.8 and is metric. Sweden and Switzerland, both metric, are superior at at 5.1 and 5.6.

    The US is 8.5 and we have 99+% Customary signs although metric signs are legal (but the States mostly won’t agree to use them). Canada, which is metric, stands at 8.2, better than the US. Do you suppose there could be other factors besides Imperial/metric.

    Two that obviously have a huge effect between US States (and I assume internationally) are seat belt law compliance, and drunk driving.

    Yes, computers use binary, but their masters use decimal and they emulate well, to 15+ decimal digits with double precision floating point which has become the norm as memory gets cheap. Many calculators perform BCD math so they are truly decimal. Perhaps the US is more decimal than the UK. Our currency has “always” been decimal, we quit using chains and have surveyed to the 0.01 foot for decades, nearer a hundred years actually. Let me be blunt, fractions are for carpenters, a machinist wouldn’t use them. Non-metric machining is normally to 0.001″, precision machining to 0.0001″

    I will point out that NASA got TO Mars on metric, then augered in due to orbit manuevering thrusters working in Customary, due to a software error (and contractual non-compliance) by a supplier. NASA has a fairly poor record on metric because they are always trying to reuse 40 year old hardware designs, but they are working towards being metric. NASA also converts for public consumption; however, as far as I can tell, the current Mars rovers are metric.

    Like

  54. @BrianAC

    The UK “unit” of alcohol is 10 mL (1 cL) of neat ethanol. The US uses a unit of 0.5 US fl oz (about 15 mL). It is not clear to me why the UK goes out of its way to avoid publishing a rigorous definition of the unit, and showing pictures of wine (or beer) glasses with %ABV and number of units worked.

    Like

  55. @RT

    I’m not sure what your background is, but if you really think that google, computers and smartphones are designed and produced in non-metric units (I am assuming you mean US Customary), then you are are seriously mistaken. The discussion here is not about freedom or supremacy, it is about modern units of measurement; on this thread: ditching the remaining vestiges of the Fahrenheit scale in the UK half a century after we dropped it officially. You seem to have the USA as your champion, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you think that the USA survives in the modern world without metric units then you should do some research before making your claims.

    Like

  56. Oscar Garcia – I agree with many of your points about Celsius vs. Fahrenheit but definitely not with the following part of your response.

    My main point of disagreement is that I was talking purely about my personal preferences, experiences, and abilities, purposely trying to avoid making general statements. So I don’t believe that you can accurately tell me what I prefer, experience, or am capable of doing or feeling. No one can do that for any other person. I learned that a long time ago in psychotherapy. As I explicitly stated, “The one aspect of the Celsius scale of temp measurement that I don’t like (as used in non-scientific settings), and prefer Fahrenheit…” [notice I said “I don’t like … and prefer…”, only referring to myself, no other contexts. I also explicitly excepted scientific settings, where I agree 100% with you that Celsius (and when needed, Kelvin, because it uses the same scale, just different zero points) should be the only temp measurement system used worldwide. So I was referring only to myself in the context of my everyday personal life – an area only I am an authority on, just like you are the only authority on your own personal life. And I definitely wasn’t arguing for not going metric – I think we should have done that decades ago. In fact, during the push for metrication during the Carter administration, my brother headed up the Minnesota Metric Center (or some such name). [Is the right term for this metrication or metrification?]

    And yes, I absolutely can detect a 1 degree F change in temperature. Many people have witnessed it as I tell them the temp and then they check it with a thermometer. But I agree that it’s unusual, but that describes my life and my abilities. I couldn’t do that 15 years ago, when I was living in LA. Since then, I’ve lived on a mountaintop in the giant redwood forests along the California Central Coast – pure air, pure water, quiet, secluded, surrounded by wilderness, totally natural setting, spending more time with animals than with humans because I run a small animal rescue here, spending about as much time outdoors as indoors. That means my sensitivities, abilities, preferences, experiences have returned to the more natural tribal state where people not only could detect temperature but just about every other atmospheric state that modern weather instruments measure – wind velocity and direction, changes in barometric pressure, the smell and feel of different approaching systems – rain, heat wave, thunderstorm, hailstorm, snow, sunny pleasant weather, etc.

    So that’s where I’m coming from – just from personal experience and preference, nothing more.

    – Regarding Precision: I agree that the number of significant digits in a measurement does not fit the scientific definition of precision which in a nutshell means reproducibility – the degree to which a series of measurements cluster around one value. But “degree of precision” IS a term that is used in common, non-scientific use to mean number of significant digits displayed like in this Yahoo question (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101020211912AA9kwNf) :
    “What degree of precision (how many significant figures) can you obtain…”

    But I agree in this forum I should have been more diligent in my choice of terms because this seems to be a more scientific context. My reversion back to sloppy common speak vs. the way I used to talk when I was studying and working in more scientific disciplines tells me that I’m already getting intellectually lazy since I recently retired. LOL

    Peace! Arian

    Like

  57. @derekp
    Hey this is what I mean. In the imperial system you can always divide any unit by 2 because it also includes a “fractional” system.
    e.g.
    1 yard divided by 2 = 1/2 yard = 1-1/2′ = 18″
    1/2 yard divided by 2 = 1/4 yard = 3/4′ = 9″
    1/4yard divided by 2 = 1/8 yard = 3/8′ = 4-1/2″
    1 mile divided by 2 = 1/2 mile = 880′
    1 troy pound divided by 2 = 1/2 troy pound = 6 troy ounce
    etc etc.
    reciprocal of 1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128 is what I mean by binary.
    You cannot do that in the decimal metric system and rounding is always required.
    25mm (about 1″) divided by 2 = 12.5mm
    12.5mm divided by 2 = 6.25mm
    6.25mm divided by 2 = 3.125mm
    When you buy a pizza/cake you always cut into 2 or 4 or 8 in a binary way. Never 5 or 10.
    When you buy 1lb of meat you can feed 4 in the family each having a quarter-pounder = 4oz each.

    Like

  58. Ahem:
    1 metre divided by 2 = 500 mm
    1 metre divided by 4 = 250 mm
    1 metre divided by 8 = 125 mm

    1 kg divided by 2 = 500 g
    1 kg divided by 4 = 250 g
    1 kg divided by 8 = 125 g

    Fractions of the form 1/2^n can all be expressed exactly in decimal
    q.v. 1/2 = 0.5, 1/4 = 0.25, 1/8 = 0.125, 1/16 = 0.0625 … and so on.

    Imperial rulers are seldom marked in divisions smaller than 1/16 of an inch. Nearly all metric rulers are marked in mm.

    1 mm is smaller than 1/16th of an inch.

    So which gives us more accurate readings?

    Like

  59. Oh my, this discussion has gone a long way, and far from its original premise. To all those (especially RT) arguing that imperial (or its equivalent, USC) is superior, for whatever reasons, it DOESN’T MATTER! Metric measurements are used by 95% of the world’s population, whether in scientific circles or in everyday usage. The large emerging economies – Brazil, China, India, Russia, etc – are all metric. Why would they choose metric? After all, they have a choice. Especially Brazil, which was so heavily influenced by the USA and Britain for so many years (up to the mid-twentieth century, Britain owned nearly the whole of Brazil’s railways, along with huge tracts of land, all its banks, etc).

    These countries chose metric because (a) it is better, and (b) it is what the rest of the world is using. Just look at Michael Palin’s series on the BBC on Brazil. Any clips showing everyday Brazilians talking about an aspect of Brazilian life will always involve metric measures, never imperial.

    RT, you have the choice of course of using whatever measurement units suit you, but to fight against metric usage is to swim against the tide, with no advantage at the end. Why bother? Metric is here to stay, and you (and even the whole of the USA) will not persuade 95% of the world’s population otherwise. Eventually the USA will see sense and become officially metric. That will be the time the world will see a USA renaissance.

    Like

  60. @RT

    With regard to distances, I note that you started your “fractional” theory with the yard and worked downwards, then suddenly jumped up to the mile and started working downwards again.

    Why did you miss out the intervening imperial distance measures?

    I can get from the mile to the furlong using your fractional method. Can you explain how to get from the furlong to the rod (aka pole or perch) and from there to the yard?

    Incidentally, previous pro-imperial visitors have suggested that the foot is the basis of the imperial length measurement system. I note that it appears to be missing from your explanation. Can you explain why?

    Like

  61. Apparently, Imperial is so confusing as to confuse its proponents. I would note that 1/2 mile is 2640 ft, not 880 ft (I think that is the number of yards in a half mile). I would note that 5280 is not particularly binary, having factors of 32*3*5*11. I am not sure if Ken’s question is inquiring about the 10 chains per furlong, or the 11 yards in a half-chain, but they aren’t very binary.

    I would note as we subdivide the avoirdupois pound, ultimately there are 7000 grains, and in the troy pound, 5760 grains. As we address multiples of the pound, we trip over the 14 pound stone to the 112 pound hundredweight, and 2240 pound long ton (Americans use 100 lb hundredweights and 2000 lb short tons), again, not very binary.

    The American gallon (128 fl oz) is more binary than the Imperial gallon (160 fl oz) until you realize the American gallon is 231 cubic inches (factors of 3*7*11) and has no binary whatsoever. (Our fluid ounce is a convenient 231/128 of a cubic inch). The Imperial gallon is 10 lb of water; where’s the binary in that?

    The binary (and duodecimal) arguments are largely cherry picked examples which quickly fall apart when you examine the total maze-like complexity of either Imperial or Customary, It would be well worth packing them both off to retirement as obscure literary references and be able to understand and be understood by the rest of the world.

    Like

  62. Opponents of UK metrication argue that it should be voluntary (as did RT above). History shows that the purely voluntary approach never works.
    So insisting on it being voluntary is the same as saying we mustn’t do it at all.
    So what are we left with?
    Two incompatible sets of units applied sporadically to different applications in various circumstances.
    OK so we have freedom to choose … or do we?
    I choose to weigh myself in kg and don’t want to know about stones and pounds. When I go to weight watchers meetings I am forced to weigh in imperial as well as metric. I get awards for key stages in pounds only.
    So where is my freedom to choose? There is no law requiring organizations like Weight Watchers to work in either units so the pressure is there purely as a result of the UK measurement muddle.
    Freedom to choose is an illusion and those who argue on libertarian grounds are being disingenuous.

    Like

  63. I am getting lost on this thread. I know more about the Imperial system, even more the USC, now than I have ever know in my last 68 years. I don’t feel any better for knowing that. I think it an even more stupid system than ever.
    It was, and has always been, a load of odd-ball measurements used by various traders, farmers and businesses cobbled together at some stage to make a so called system. Little or nothing was ever inter-related. 1 gall=10 lbs was totally accidental. Beyond each individual application it was never really ever fit for purpose; neither can it ever be made so.
    The only real puzzle that has confused me ever since I asked my dad what the figures on the radio dial meant (including metres) way back long before I was a teenager, is WHY? Why does any sane, knowledgeable person want to hang on to this stupid system? Nothing put forward so far makes any sense and is without reason nor common sense. Answer me that and I have found the meaning of life itself. (Or maybe the reason for getting out of it).

    Like

  64. Oh, and before someone suggests it, I have read almost all of the blurb, including the newsletters, on “the other site” that I won’t even name, and have found little or nothing that makes any real sense.

    Like

  65. @John Steele

    I was meaning going from mile to furlong in 3 binary steps i.e. Mile>>1/2 mile>>1/4 mile>>Furlong

    I purposely referred to the rod as it is the most crazy definition in the whole “system”. Where else but Imperial can you find something as incomprehensible as 5.5 yards = 1 rod?

    Totally agree with your last paragraph, by the way.

    Like

  66. @Ken

    I don’t think the rod was used much in the US. However, in the 1800’s, the chain (4 rods) was used a lot for surveying, basically the entire Midwest under the Public Lands Surveying System. No fractions for us, it was decimal. Chains had 100 links, 7.92 inches long, and results were written as chains and links or decimal chains. Later surveyors changed to decimal feet, no inches, which is still used except where they have gone metric.

    As an example of too much choice, most State Plane Coordinate Systems are based on the foot, but the Military Grid Reference System and the US National grid are based on the UTM projection in meters. Never the twain shall meet. Our topographic maps are a clutter of different grids, lat/long, SPCS to old and new datums, USNG. You can hardly see the ground for the grids. A prime example of choice going completely bonkers. On some computized ones, you can turn off grid layers you don’t want.

    Choice means understanding two systems poorly instead of one system well, unles you waste a LOT of time understanding two systems.

    I fully agree with the comments that none of it makes sense, but the more you document it, the more nonsense it makes.

    Like

  67. @PhilH – try Jenny Craig weight loss. Former Spice Girl Mel B advertises for them on TV and explains her weight loss target was 5kg in their info-mercial.

    Like

  68. @ michduncg
    A quick browse of that site and it is all in lbs I am afraid. As many say, loosing weight is in lbs, gaining it (body building) is in kg. That site even asks for your weight and height in stones and feet to work out the BMI.
    So much for the TV ad. Good work by Mel B though.

    Like

  69. Well, the BBC continues to prove hopelessly inconsistent in its approach to metric measurements. While at the at gym tonight, plodding away on my 5.5 km run in an effort to shed some grammes, I saw that the BBC ‘One Show’ was having some feature on that involved a police style line-up of people having their height measured. I could clearly see that the left hand side of the height chart behind these folk was marked in feet. I kept waiting for a camera shot on the right hand side to see if they had metric markings on the other side. Unfortunately, it didn’t. It was also marked in feet. So, here we are, with a popular programme hosted by young presenters (they are both under 40) perpetuating the usage feet and inches. And they wonder why todays kids are so bad at maths and science.

    Like

  70. The One Show is one of the worst on BBC for not using metric, closely followed by Country File. All the more dissapointing as it is very much a family show and frequently involves young children who are then totally exposed to and reverse educated into a useless system which is technically no longer used in UK.
    Opposite to what others here percive, in my view it is getting widely and rapidly worse now the Olympic memory is fading. Tonight we have snow back, in inches of course, in both local and national forecasts.

    Like

  71. It seems the weather forcast confused the local rail companies too. The afore mentioned snow took them by surprise. And yes, that was the excuse, they got their forecast wrong!
    So Celsius or Farenheit, mm, inches or feet it seems the railways, among others will never get the message.

    Like

  72. All you people that say we ‘have’ to use metric are acting like controlling fascists! what is your hatred of the imperial system? @BrainAC I have a 5 year old son who is just starting school. i have excplicity taught him in stone lbs and oz’s, °F, miles yards etc. It is part of our heritage and incidentally °C is not a metric nor SI unit. °F are is a far better and more logical scale for climate along with lbs and oz’s for cooking, amongst most other imperial units.

    Like

  73. @John Gow

    Oh gosh, here we go again, another person stuck in the 19th century, oblivious as to how today’s world really is, and instead intent on hobbling this country’s future generations.

    “I have a 5 year old son who is just starting school. i have excplicity taught him in stone lbs and oz’s, °F, miles yards etc. “. I hope you feel proud that you have crippled your son in his ability to converse with the rest of the world for the rest of his life. I am glad that my son, an engineer, is free from such nonsense, and can (and DOES) communicate freely and seemlessly with his counterparts around the world (including American automotive engineers who are also metric).

    “It is part of our heritage” No it is not. Fahrenheit was GERMAN, the libre (abbr. lb) was ITALIAN. Other units can be traced back to other cultures. If you want a measuring system that is part of our heritage, then go metric – John Wilkins in the 1600s is credited with the first decimal based measuring unit, while there is evidence of English decimal measuring sticks almost exactly 1 m long (997 mm to be precise) dating from the Middle Ages. Lord Kelvin created the current SI temperature scale, from which the Celsius scale is an offset, but with the same increments.

    “°C is not a metric nor SI unit” Not SI, but it is a metric unit – see previous paragraph.

    “°F are is a far better and more logical scale for climate” Nothing is more logical than 0 degrees for freezing water and 100 degrees for boiling water. °F is utterly illogical.

    Not being totally metric, and having to deal with two measuring systems (imperial of course is not really a system) costs this country tens (maybe even hundreds) of millions of pounds a year. YOU Mr Gow are helping to perpretrate this drag on the British economy. And that is nothing to feel proud about. As for calling metric supporters fascists, those demanding the continuation of imperial units are invariably the most fascist of all. The fact is, ALL countries have some form of SINGLE weights and measurement legislation, to protect consumers, provide standards, and facilitate trade. Nothing fascist about that.

    Finally, if you think the imperial system is so superior, then take a look at this earlier post in Metric Views at

    https://metricviews.org.uk/2012/03/just-how-much-does-not-being-fully-metric-cost-the-uk-economy/

    and then tell me that it is still superior.

    Like

  74. My personal hatred of the Imperial system is its total impractability in most aspects of life. I was about 7 (over 60 years ago) when I found out there was a much better system in world wide use, that is what I try to use. Celsius is an SI unit, it is used because it is a domestic unit compatible with Kelvin. Kelvin is not an SI unit, but is the only unit than can be used for calcuations at all temperatures and probably the one most often used and impacts on every aspect of everyday life.

    I guess your son will be able to communicate with a few like minded people, such as his parents, but Imperial will be, and for the most part already is, totally useless in the work place. This is one of the reasons UK people can’t get jobs in UK and employers prefer other Europeans. It is another reason why Germany is doing well and we have lost almost all of our former industry and are faced with another decade of austerity. Any calculation on any subject requiers units to be the same. Feet and inches has first to be changed either to feet or inches, stones, pounds and ounces would need first to be reduced to just one unit. Try working out your sons BMI for instance in feet, inches, stones and pounds, then do it in kg and metres. We HAVE to use metric to communicate with and compete with, the rest of the world, that includes America whos international trade is also metric.

    Like

  75. @John Gow

    25 years ago my wife and I taught our children French and German, both of which they could understand at the age of 5 (in addition to English). That has proved to be much more useful to them in their lives than teaching them imperial units could ever have been. In the fullness of time you son will be able to make up his own mind whether imperial units are actually a part of our heritage to be cherished or in actual fact a millstone round the country’s neck.

    Like

  76. @ John Gow – I really think that it is time people got over this and moved on. A legitimate UK Government made the decision on behalf of the UK to go metric in 1965. We have had nearly 50 years to get used to it and get on with it. All metric supporters want is whats best for our country, as did the CBI who recommended the move all those years ago. Pretty much every other major country in the world has managed to go metric, including all of the Commonwealth countries. As others have said, Imperial is less British than the metric system. There is really no basis for clinging on to this relic.

    I wonder what career expectations are for your child? As a retail manager I can tell you that if you are educating your child in Imperial they won’t even be trained to be a shelf stacker in a supermarket! All our shelf layouts are arranged in millimetres, our temperature checks are all carried out in degC, the food we sell is packed in metric measures. Our fruit and veg departments all use metric scales, as do our food service counters where all food has to be served in grammes.

    Of course, if you have higher aspirations for them then you would be better off teaching them a foreign language – and metric. Its the international language of measurement.

    Like

  77. John Gow what a selfish man you are, trying to sabotage your own son’s education because of your own beliefs. They have been teaching metric in our own schools for 40 years, so why dont you try and embrace it? It is what your son is taught school, so why dont you do yourself a favour and sit down with your son and learn with him. Are you going to teach your son to fill his car in gallons as well?

    Like

  78. John Gow said: ” … incidentally °C is not a metric nor SI unit.”

    May I refer Mr Gow to the SI brochure:

    Click to access si_brochure_8_en.pdf

    In particular I draw attention to section 2.2.2 Table 3 “Coherent derived units *in the SI* with special names and symbols” (my emphasis)

    In that table Celsius is listed with the special symbol °C as being derived from kelvin. There is also a footnote which says:
    “The degree Celsius is the special name for the kelvin used to express Celsius temperatures. …”

    So it clearly is part of the SI. As for it being metric, well that depends on what is meant by the term but here we generally regard the metric system and the SI as one and the same. At any rate the SI is currently the only officially recognized system that incorporates metric units as we understand them.

    Like

  79. “weather forecasts” celcius, centigrade, fahrenheit or even Kelvin. No one has mentioned what happened to wind speed. This should be in Knots as layed out in the Beufort scale. Even when we have inflight information the air speed is in MPH what is wrong with knots. Shipping forecast refers to wind speed in Force 8 etc.

    Like

  80. “Weather forecasts” Celsius, centigrade, Fahrenheit or even Kelvin. No one has mentioned what happened to wind speed.
    Oh yes, wind speed in Knots? I think m/s would be more useful to most of us. You left out the pressure too, and cloud cover in octas or whatever. We tend not to hear too much from pilots about weather. They are very truly stuck in the past with the flight level in feet and ranges in miles. I even saw an altimeter recently that was set to inches for barometric pressure, my word that took me back a bit! Took a while to work out what it was. I don’t think there is much Mr. Joe Public Bloggs can do about that. Pilots get their weather from the airport control on approach to landing; they have their own language that few others understand. But I agree that air traffic control should use SI, and only SI. Only Russia and China use metres for altitude. Not exactly a small segment of the world’s airspace.
    I thought on the BBC national weather last night, no pressure map, how much more information that would add to the forecast. Fortunately our local map always has those isobars to show the real weather pattern.

    Like

  81. I find reports of wind speeds really frustrating. In Australia, it appears that wind speeds over land are reported in km/h while wind over the sea is reported in knots. I find it a real bugbear. I wish they would use just one measure.

    Like

  82. No one had mentioned wind speed prior to timward’s comment because it is not the subject under discussion. The point of the article is that Fahrenheit is obsololete in the UK and has been for 50 years. There is really no excuse for anything other than Celsius.

    km/h for windspeed is yet to be introduced in UK forecasting and is probably being held back by the official retention of the mile and mph on roads.

    Knots and the beaufort scale are a maritime convention still used internationally, but not suitable for domestic forecasts.

    Like

  83. The US and Canada both use knots for all their marine and aviation weather products, and do not use the Beaufort scale. However Canada uses km/h for “civilian” forecasts, while the US uses MPH. The Wikipedia article implies only a few nations still use the Beaufort scale.

    (However, the wind speeds for small craft warnings, gale warnings, storm warnings and hurricane warnings bear an obvious relationship to Beaufort forces, but expressed in the above units.)

    Like

  84. It just goes to show how confusing our measurment system has become.

    We are stuck in our ways? Nothing gets updated quickly they tend to fade?
    We still say, Touch wood. surely this should now be, Touch plastic? or anything else modern.
    Back to the drawing board. We now use CAD. “back to the cad”? perhaps not many people know what CAD is. but they do know what a drawing board is.

    In deed Isobars do tell you everything . For those who know about weather.
    But not everyone is educated to the same level. I was tought by my father (who was in the RAF as Observer Navigator) about the weather and charts etc. My mother had a thermometer to check the nappies were boiled properly. Yes it was in Fahrenheit, 212deg had a red line. The old medical thermometer for checking body temp. 98.4deg. Filled with mercury. mmm H&S?
    The back cover on all exercise books had The Times Tables, measurment and weights printed on them. Easy reference.

    One tends to remember what one was tought at an early age.

    Like

  85. The original point of discussion is:- Why do we still use old measurements (non metric) whatever they are? I can remember when athletics changed from imperial to metric back in the 60s. So why do we still, in football, refer to areas as, the 6yd box
    and 18yd box.
    Perhaps we are just traditionalists and like to preserve old ways of life.

    Like

  86. Alot of people maybe Tim, but there alot of us who want to change, i never use yards in football, I use the word metres. Rugby league uses metric, hopefully football will go the same. And it is sad to preserve the old ways of life, when the future generations should be put first, and what are our children and grand children taught? Thats right-METRIC!!

    Like

  87. Preserve old ways of life? Like ploughing with oxen instead of a tractor? Having coal-fired steam trains belching out acrid smoke? Riding in a horse and cart? Of course all these things are interesting to watch at shows and exhibitions but no one would seriously suggest reverting to the ways of life of the 1940s or before. It is the same with measurement units. Imperial units and their predecessors, just like early forms of currency, are fascinating to read about or see in a museum but they are not part of what Britain is trying to be, namely a modern, forward-looking country. There is only so much of the past you can preserve before the country fossilises into a theme park. It is time for politicians to grasp the nettle and tie together all those loose ends in the metrication process, especially ditching references to Fahrenheit (if someone doesn’t understand Celsius, it is not unreasonable to expect them to learn it) and modernising our road system by showing speeds and distances in the metric units taught now in schools for around 40 years.

    Like

  88. Before winter came to The Netherlands about 10 days ago, it was mild and cloudy. At the same the temperature in Australia was 44 degrees Celsius. A weatherwoman told us that following the news. Then she showed us a thermometer with C and F and she told the listeners that the temperature in The Netherlands had been 44 degrees too, but she said that that was on the Fahrenheit scale.

    Like

  89. Why do people connect the Celsius temperature measurement with the metric system? They are two completely independent systems. The Celsius scale was invented by Anders Celsius, a Swedish astronomer, in 1742 and independently by Jean-Pierre Christin, a French physicist, in 1743. The metric system was created in France around 50 years later. Celsius is not part of metric system.

    Like

  90. The modern metric system is the SI. That system has kelvin as the base unit for thermodynamic temperature. The kelvin scale has been derived from Celsius in terms of the temperature change represented by 1 degree – they are the same for both scales. Celius is accepted for use with SI and is the recommended non-scientific alternative to kelvin. At any rate it is highly compatible.
    The same cannot be said of fahrenheit which is totally incompatible and has no sensible origin for present day purposes.

    Like

  91. During a bored moment today I picked up a copy of the Daily Mail. A big heading on page three said “89f today…” or some such, even a small “f”. I then looked at the weather, all in dual C and F, so Fahrenheit is alive and well in the newspapers. I did not get far with the rest of the paper either. I did not realise that papers still used these units until they got to 100! Perhaps they can’t wait that long.

    Like

  92. Hmmm. Then that just shows how inconsistent the Daily Mail is. Only the other day I commented to a colleague that they had a headline about the hot weather stating ’30°C weather on its way’.. This was only last week and the entire article referred to temperature in Celsius. I thought we had turned a corner for a moment! That said, at least BBC1 seems to have broken the habit of converting hot temperatures into °F.

    Like

  93. Ireland is in a hot spell at the moment, the first days of this week are moderate, but from coming Thursday the temperature will soar again to the upper twenties or maybe the lower thirties. I have not seen the re-appearance of Fahrenheit in the Irish media; in all news items about the heat I saw Celsius only. Even the Irish Daily Mail had no Fahrenheit; however this newspaper has really become an Irish one and is much more metric than its mother in the UK.
    I encountered an error in a computer shop in Belfast where laptops are sold stating the screen diameter in feet, not in inches. 15.6′ instead of 15.6”. I did not expect to see this error in the UK. When I bought a flat screen for my computer some years ago it was stated as 24′ and not 24” (not by the manufacturer, who gave the two sizes, 24 inch and 60 cm). I would need a removal van to to take such a giant device home! It should have been 60 cm of course. These ’24 inch’ screens measure in fact 23.6 inches and that is exactly 60 cm. And how rational is a size like 15.6 inches?

    Like

  94. I listen to Christian O’Connell’s Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio (Medium Wave) as I wake up in the mornings, and the question of Fahrenheit broke out there a couple of weeks back. Their weather man would occasionally drop a “and that’s 85F” sort of comment in after doing all the rest of the temperature information in Celsius.

    A couple of weeks back, O’Connell’s sidekick Richard decided to challenge the usefulness of such statements, which broke into the usual acrimonious verbal punch-up, and possibly led to listeners emailing or texting in their comments. I don’t know what happened next, but I haven’t heard a temperature given in Fahrenheit on the Breakfast Show since!

    …Until today when a listener had contributed to the “who’s got the worst job in a heatwave” thread that was running this morning. Her statement was that she worked in a kitchen (or whatever it was) and “the temperature had got to 115F the previous day”. Now that did surprise me – where would anyone find a Fahrenheit thermometer these days? But whatever, it provoked the show’s presenters to have to get out the pocket calculators and eventually announce “that’s 46 degrees – wow, that’s hot!”

    My personal experience is that even old ladies on the bus talk about the weather in celsius. The only place in Britain that I can reliably expect to see Fahrenheit is the front page of the Daily Express in the summer months. I don’t know why they do that – I’m not sure where their Fahrenheit-loving readers are supposed to be. I’ve never met one.

    Mind you – I wouldn’t want to.

    Like

  95. In answer to Wild Bill “Now that did surprise me – where would anyone find a Fahrenheit thermometer these days?”
    The answer unfortunately, is just about everywhere, like tyre (tire) gauges with psi on them many if not most are still dual calibrated. Even the thermometers I bought in France are dual calibrated. Try to find a tyre gauge in kPa only in UK!!!
    The only thermemeter I have in C only is and old garden one probably dated to the mid to late ’70s when items were often metric only. We have progressed backwards quite a lot since then.
    I hate dual calibration, it is so erksome that every day items such as thermometers and tyre gauges should present me with figures I really want to forget but will never be able to.
    I did replace my mechanical CH thermostat with an electronic centigrade one some time ago, but it is so bad that I am thinking of putting the old F one back.
    That is modern progress for you.

    Like

  96. Forgive this macabre tone, but once those Daily Express editors and writers have retired or died, Fahrenheit will die there, too.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s