Think Metric
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About this site

UKMAThis site is owned and run by the United Kingdom Metric Association. Click here for more info about UKMA. The object of the Association is to promote the full adoption of the international metric system (SI) in the United Kingdom as soon as is practicable. UKMA is convinced that if Britain adopts the metric system in the right way there are substantial benefits to the British public. The campaign therefore focuses on areas which directly benefit the public, such as user-friendliness, consumer protection, safety and public numeracy.

To this end, this website, "Think Metric", has been setup to help educate the British public in the use of metric and to learn to think in metric, rather than spend time converting from metric to imperial when metric units are encountered. For metrication to be successful, people need to be able to think in metric units easily and without having to do awkward conversions. There is no complex mathematics or mental arithmetic involved in thinking in a decimal-based system, unlike other older measurement systems which are often based on a wide variety of multiples such as 3, 12, 16, etc.

If you are puzzled by metric units then this site should help to demystify metric measurements and show that there is nothing hard about it at all. Non-metric units are actually considerably harder to use than metric units, mostly because they are not decimal. As we count in 10s, it is logical to use a measurement system that is based on this simple reality, to aid in quick mental calculations and more complex arithmetic. It is easier to remember that 1 litre of water weighs 1 kg than the equivalent in non-metric. Non-metric units are not based on ease of use, but usually on units that are inherited from previous generations, even going back as far as the Roman Empire, ancient Egypt and Babylon. Although the names of non-metric units may be the same as the original units in those ancient days, the actual sizes of them have been redefined so many times that the originals have been lost and the modern equivalents are meaningless. But when we start using metric, which is based on physical dimensions of the Earth and water, and with units being based on other units in multiples of 1s, 10s, 100s, 1000s, etc., we can start to think more clearly and not get confused by irrational multipliers.

There is no reason why British people cannot use metric. British people are just as intelligent as people in countries that fully use metric. English speaking peoples in countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland have all adapted to metric without difficulty, and as the United Kingdom struggles to complete its changeover to metric, started in 1965, it would help if people were to start thinking in metric and start using metric far more in their everyday lives. Metric units are designed to be used in everything, not just for scientific or medical use. We can measure our heights in centimetres, weights in kilograms, distances in kilometres and temperatures in Celsius without losing our Britishness, Englishness, Scottishness, Welshness, etc. Of all the units in use today, whether metric or non-metric, most of them originated in other countries outside of the UK, and of those that did originate in the UK and are still in legal use today, most of those are metric.

And as UK law requires the usage of metric more and more, it becomes a necessity to learn to use metric and think in metric, just for the ease of being a part of this society, and more importantly, part of the international community, which is predominantly metric. Even our closest ally, the USA, uses metric in many places, and in the use of non-metric units the values of those units in the USA are often quite different to those of the UK (e.g. US gallon is quite different to the UK gallon and the two are not compatible). However, when we all use the same system, we can all get along together and do trade and commerce and so on much more easily, efficiently and enjoyably.



 

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Ruler in centimetres, because metric is very useful