The Imperial System is illegal. It officially died in the late 1960s — along with the Metric System as a matter of fact. Yes, for decades there has been only one legal international system of measurement: the SI System.
In the UK, the main remnants of the British Empire’s Imperial Measurement System appears to be restricted to the human body — and mainly females at that — weight in stones, height in feet and inches, and waist sizes in inches. That’s about it.
For a few people in the UK there exists confusion between summer weather temperatures being quoted in Fahrenheit (in the seventies), while winter temperatures are quoted in Celsius (minus five). Few people seem to know that water boils at 212 degrees and freezes at 32 degrees. There is also the confusion between SI and Metric.
Metric is an illegal and out-moded decimal system. The SI system has only seven units, and every measurement unit needed can be made up from blending these seven fundamental units. The centimetre, litre, and gram are metric, while the the kilogram and millimetre are SI units, metric is close enough to be acceptable.
In the map above (click to enlarge), the grey colour represents countries that have adopted the International System. the red colour represents the countries that ” do their own thing”. Note that this is mainly just the USA.
The rest of the world takes it for granted that things just work — just fit, but not when dealing with the USA! Take the A series of paper for example. This starts with a piece of paper of area one square metre and sides in the ratio or proportion of one to the squared root of two. This is called ISO A0. If you fold it in half, you get ISO A1, fold in half again, and you get ISO A2 — and so on.
This means you can put a piece of ISO A3 paper in a photocopier and scale reduce or increase by half or double to get ISO A4 or ISO A2. You simply cannot do this simple task in the USA!
Not having standard paper sizes means that the North Americans cannot have the same shelves, filing cabinets, envelopes, postage rates, fax machines, slideshow presentations — even their hole-punches are different to the rest of the world!
Standards have a massive impact on trade, lifestyle, convenience and portability. What a shame that the USA defiantly sticks with the old BRITISH system! It pointlessly restricts design, engineering, technical, medical and scientific collaboration.
If entire countries can change their ways for the better, what’s stopping the USA?