From: R. Mark Clayton on

"Neil Harrington" <secret(a)> wrote in message
> "R. Mark Clayton" <nospamclayton(a)> wrote in message
> news:6tKdnRMdR5dl4GDXnZ2dnUVZ8qydnZ2d(a)


>> Er because they mixed up the metric and imperial (well US) units and it
>> dodn't decelerate enough resulting in burn up...
>> did you follow the link given?
>> "The metric/imperial mix-up
>> The metric/imperial mix-up that destroyed the craft was caused by a
>> software error back on Earth. The thrusters on the spacecraft, which were
>> intended to control its rate of rotation, were controlled by a computer
>> that underestimated the effect of the thrusters by a factor of 4.45. This
>> is the ratio between a pound force - the standard unit of force in the
>> imperial system - and a newton, the standard unit in the metric system.
>> The software was working in pounds force, while the spacecraft expected
>> figures in newtons; 1 pound force equals approximately 4.45 newtons.
>> The software had been adapted from use on the earlier Mars Climate
>> Orbiter, and was not adequately tested before launch. The navigation data
>> provided by this software was also not cross-checked while in flight. The
>> Mars Climate Orbiter thus drifted off course during its voyage and
>> entered a much lower orbit than planned, and was destroyed by atmospheric
>> friction.
>> "
> I understand, and I repeat the question: What does that have to do with
> English vs. metric? (In terms of one being preferable to the other.)
> The problem was that they mixed up two different measurement systems, not
> that one of them was better than the other. So you can say that it was
> just as much the fault of using the metric system as of anything else.

Generally speaking the metric system generates a system of units that have a
simple or unitary relationship with one another. Very basic things like the
sizes of sheets of paper are sorted in the metric ISO system, but a
incoherent in the USA.

It is bit like comparing English and Japanese.

In English (which apart from some spelling and vocabulary the Yanks and
Brits almost agree on) we have an almost completely synthetic language with
a single fairly simple script. Most children can learn how to speak and
write it whilst their age is a single digit and non English speakers can
quickly learn how to express themselves (takes a bit longer to understand -
especially verbal).

Japanese by contrast has an immensely complex verbal structure, three
scripts and numerous other convolutions that mean Japanese children do well
to be fully conversant by the time they leave school and foreigners have
negligible chance of becoming conversant even after living a year in the

US units are a shambolic mess, inconsistent with each other and almost
completely irrational for dealing with the real world.

From: Eric Stevens on
On Sat, 14 Nov 2009 08:47:38 -0500, "J. Clarke"
<jclarke.usenet(a)> wrote:

>Savageduck wrote:
>> On 2009-11-13 19:28:38 -0800, "Bill Graham" <weg9(a)> said:
>>> "J�rgen Exner" <jurgenex(a)> wrote in message
>>> news:r48sf5hvnn2lu320s5prvsp7agi8aar9ff(a)
>>>> "Neil Harrington" <secret(a)> wrote:
>>>>> As a unit of liquid measure, the cup is what it is and does not
>>>>> have any particular relationship to the amount of coffee you're
>>>>> served in a cup.
>>>> Then if the unit "cup" doesn't have a relationship to a cup of
>>>> beverage then what is the specific benefit of having that unit
>>>> "cup" instead of using e.g 1/4 liter?
>>>> jue
>>> None. It's just a slang term. Actually, when it comes to a cup of
>>> coffee, it's usually closer to 1/4 liter than a cup, which is 1/4 of
>>> a quart. You have to remember that the world is 99% housewives, and
>>> only 1% engineers.
>> That would explain a pinch of salt.
>A pinch is 1/16 of a teaspoon.
>As for the benefit of having that unit "cup" instead of "1/4 liter", "1c"
>can be scribbled more quickly than "1/4l" and with its two distinct
>characters is far less likely to be misintepreted than "1/4l" with its three
>more or less vertical strokes. "250ml" is harder to misinterpret than
>"1/4l" but it's also longer to write and confers no practical benefit over
>the much more succinct "1c".
>In any case, a "standard" cup of coffee is 3/4 of a measuring cup, oddly
>that's the same amount as the rice cup provided with Japanese rice cookers.
Just imagine not having to carry that junk around in your head any

Eric Stevens
From: Eric Stevens on
On Sat, 14 Nov 2009 09:39:39 -0500, "Neil Harrington"
<secret(a)> wrote:

>"Eric Stevens" <eric.stevens(a)> wrote in message
>> On Sat, 14 Nov 2009 01:18:29 -0500, "Neil Harrington"
>> <secret(a)> wrote:
>>>"J�rgen Exner" <jurgenex(a)> wrote in message
>>>> "Neil Harrington" <secret(a)> wrote:
>>>>>As a unit of liquid measure, the cup is what it is and does not have any
>>>>>particular relationship to the amount of coffee you're served in a cup.
>>>> Then if the unit "cup" doesn't have a relationship to a cup of beverage
>>>> then what is the specific benefit of having that unit "cup" instead of
>>>> using e.g 1/4 liter?
>>>Cups (and mugs) come in a wide range of sizes. It's convenient to have a
>>>specific unit of measure, and there is one, called a cup, regardless of
>>>relationship or non-relationship to any real-world cups. If your complaint
>>>that it shouldn't in that case be called a cup, very well, but most words
>>>the English language have more than one meaning and this is just such a
>>>case. I'm sure most housewives understand that when a recipe or whatever
>>>calls for an amount like 1/2 cup, it's the standard measure that's
>>>to and not half of an actual cup. Context is everything in the language.
>> The problem is there is no such thing as a 'standard measure'. If you
>> don't believe me you should try making a recipe with the units of
>> measure different from the country it was written in. One of the
>> advantages of the SI 250 ml cup is that adopting it means that
>> everyone has to abondon their old units of measure. There is no longer
>> any arguing over which one is the right one.
>Not a problem here, as far as I know.
>Googling it I find the following (from Wikipedia):
>There is no internationally-agreed standard definition of the cup, whose
>modern volume ranges between 200 and 284 millilitres.[1] The cup sizes
>generally used in the many Commonwealth countries and the United States
>differ by up to 44 mL (1.5 fl oz).

That's my point exactly.
>No matter what size cup is used, all the ingredients measured with the same
>size cup will be in the same proportion to one another, although not to
>ingredients measured differently (by weight, teaspoons, etc.).

And there is the problem. Try looking up teaspoons.

>Commonwealth of Nations
> Imperial cup
> The imperial cup is unofficially defined as half an imperial pint.
> 1 imperial cup = 0.5 imperial pints
> = 2 imperial gills
> = 10 imperial fluid ounces
> = 284 millilitres
> ? 19 international tablespoons[2][3]
> ? 14� Australian tablespoons[4]
> ? 1.20 U.S. customary cups
> ? 9.61 U.S. customary fluid ounces
> Metric cup
> In Australia, Canada, New Zealand one cup is commonly defined as 250
> 1 metric cup = 250 millilitres
> = 16? international tablespoons (15 mL each)
> = 12� Australian tablespoons
> ? 8.80 imperial fluid ounces
> ? 8.45 U.S. customary fluid ounces
>United States
> United States customary cup
> United States customary cup is defined as half a U.S. pint.
> 1 U.S. customary cup = 0.5 U.S. customary pints
> = 2 U.S. customary gills
> = 8 U.S. customary fluid ounces
> = 16 U.S. customary tablespoons
> = 237 millilitres
> ? 15? international tablespoons[5]
> ? 11� Australian tablespoons
> ? 0.833 imperial cups
> ? 8.33 imperial fluid ounces
> United States "legal" cup
> The cup currently used in the United States for nutrition labelling is
>defined in United States law as 240 mL.[6][7][8]
> 1 U.S. "legal" cup = 240 millilitres
> = 16 international tablespoons
> = 12 Australian tablespoons
> ? 8.12 U.S. customary fluid ounces
> ? 8.45 imperial fluid ounces
> Japanese cup
> The Japanese cup is currently defined as 200 mL.
> 1 Japanese cup = 200 millilitres
> ? 7.04 imperial fluid ounces
> ? 6.76 U.S. customary fluid ounces
> Go
> The traditional Japanese cup, the go, is approximately 180 mL. 10 go make
>one sho, the traditional flask size, approximately 1.8 litres. Go cups are
>typically used for measuring rice, and sake is typically sold by both the
>cup (180 mL) and flask (1.8 litre) sizes.
> 1 go = 2401?13310 litres[9]
> ? 180 millilitres
> ? 6.35 imperial fluid ounces
> ? 6.10 U.S. customary fluid ounces
>I hope the formating of that doesn't screw up too badly when posting.

I've been playing around with bread recipes and I weigh everything,
including the water.

Eric Stevens
From: Eric Stevens on
On Sat, 14 Nov 2009 10:03:47 -0500, "Neil Harrington"
<secret(a)> wrote:

>"Savageduck" <savageduck1@{REMOVESPAM}> wrote in message
>> It seems we left our history far behind. Have you ever noticed where the
>> good old Wells Fargo stage coach driver sat, ...on the right, shotgun on
>> the left.
>Apparently that was the standard arrangement for all horse and buggy drivers
>too. (Going by the movies, anyway.)
>And it's still the standard position for whoever's steering a power boat.
>At least some of the earliest American automobiles had right-hand drive
>also. Now I'm wondering where and why left-hand drive got started. Perhaps
>it was because the gearshift was centrally located, and it's more natural to
>work that with the dominant hand, which for 90% of people is the right one.

Blame Napoleon. He laid down the law for France and at the beginning
of the 20th century France dominated the automobile industry.

Eric Stevens
From: tony cooper on
On Sat, 14 Nov 2009 21:03:59 -0000, "R. Mark Clayton"
<nospamclayton(a)> wrote:

>US units are a shambolic mess, inconsistent with each other and almost
>completely irrational for dealing with the real world.
And yet we manage.

The world that each of us lives in is the "real world". We, who live
in the US, have no problem dealing with our system.

Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida