In a previous post, i alluded to several of the disadvantages of the metric system, and I think it’s miscellaneous worth broadening on in its own post. The metric system is really useful and also has its advantages, which I have included in this post. However, i don’t go into much information with the pros right here as over there are other sites that have actually done that and I don’t think enough attention has been drawn to that is cons!



Metric basic units

Allmetric systems are easily converted between each various other by merely moving the decimal places. For example, convert from metre to millimetre is as an easy as relocating the decimal three locations to the right.

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Prefixed naming convention

All metric systems are plainly related come each various other using prefixes. For instance if a unit starts with kilo we instantly know the it’s in multiples the 1000 that the basic unit (1km = 1000m etc).

Precise totality units

Metricunits deserve to be as an exact as you require them to it is in by just moving under to the next prefixed unit. Because that example, if 1 gram is not specific enough you deserve to use milligrams.


In the SI metric system, we are encouraged to usage as few units as feasible to allow for greater simplicity and ease the understanding. Because that example, the litre, tonne and hectare are not part of the device of worldwide Units (SI) together they room not necessary, which consequently reduces the chances of confusion by having actually too countless units. By the way, the litre, tonne and hectare (along with other units) are heritage units the are allowed to be provided alongside the SI metric system.


One dimension doesn’t fit all

On the confront of it, the metric system looks prefer a logical, simple, straightforward to know system of measure up things. And also it is, in a many areas like science, maths and engineering. The issue is when you shot to apply it to everyday uses, favor weighing the end carrots for sale in a supermarket, or measure the quantity of buttermilk you need in your brown bread recipe. Through the way, if you’re searching for a good brown bread recipe, this one ~ above the odlums website is quite good. Anyway, ago to the exciting topic the the metric system. The trouble is that metric units have the right to quite regularly be either too large or too small for day-to-day use.

The metric system is designed to be as an easy and to have actually as few units as is possible. Because that example, in load (or mass) thereare two feasible units you have the right to use; the gram or the kilogram. A gram is a small weight and a kilogram is fairly big. To put it into perspective, a gram is abouta ¼ tespoon of sugar, and a kilogram is 2 bags the sugar. Fairly a large jump. The very same for volume, we’ve obtained a millilitre the dimension of ⅕ that a tespoon of water and a litre the size of two regular sized bottles of water. Therefore what happens when you usage these for our bag the carrots or the buttermilk in ours recipe? The gram is so small that you end up with large numbers favor 750g for a constant sized bag the carrots, 400g for tins of stuff choose tomatoes and 500g for bags the sugar. Samewith themillilitre, 250ml of this, 500ml of that, and so on.

While this works fine, it does make for unnecessarily huge numbers.It seems there might be a little room between 1 and also 1000 for some more units that would certainly make our measurements right into smaller numbers, i m sorry are less complicated on the eye. Much more on this in future posts…

Rubbish sound words

The idea of making use of prefixes ~ above metric base units seems like a good one top top the challenge of it, yet you do end up with pretty rubbish sounding words. This is since in the metric system, the surname of the units are artificially created and stuck to a rigid device using prefixes, and also the resulting word may not sound great in day-to-day use. Because that example;Gram sound okay, however kilogram is a longish, not an especially pleasant sounding word. The same goes because that millilitre, millimetre and kilometre. They’re not exactly words that roll off the tounge. Also the not-so-bad sound words litre and metrestill aren’t anything come write residence about, and also don’t sound fairly the very same as pint or yard.

If ns was a scientist i wouldn’t give a toss around this, yet I think in the devices we usage to weigh and measure points in our day-to-day lives, it’s worth making use of words that sound great when we use them.

Arbitrary scale

While the origins of traditional units of measurement are based on things we can relate come on a person scale, choose a thumb, foot, cup, rock etc; metric units room on much an ext of a clinical scale. Because that example, the definition of a metre is;

The size of the course travelled by irradiate in a vacuum in1⁄299 792 458of a second

All various other units of size (and by extension area and also volume) are based turn off this definition of a metre. The disadvantage right here is that, if this is good in scientific and technical areas where you have actually measuring equipment, the obtained units space not automatically relative to anything useful on a person scale. I’m talkingparticularly about the smaller units here, centimetre and also millimetre. When estimating the size of something there is no a measure tape, it’s not as easy to visualise thiswith centi/millimetres, whereas you mightdo better visualising how plenty of of your thumbs or your feet or paces or your full body size something is. Rather often, we estimate measurements by eye – which i don’t think metric units are really design for.

Plus ns think this arbitraryscale teaches us that we require to have measuring equipment to measure up something, vice versa, it can be better and more fun to teach kids around measuring points using every little thing they can think of based on what’s roughly them. This can get kids to understand size and scale a bit better from the beginning. And also then that course relocate on to using measuring tapes and rulers!

The prefixes deserve to be cumbersome and also unnecessary in daily use

Despite the prefixes being one of the pros stated above, theycan also be a con. Again, I’m excluding scientific and also technical locations here, yet think around how we measure things; we usually just use a couple of units in a particular scenario. Because that example, if measure up a tiny length (no smart comments please!) utilizing the metric system, you will certainly only ever before use millimetres or centimetres. You probably don’t need to recognize at that certain time howthe units you’re making use of relate come the metre, kilometre, megametre etc. The exact same goes because that figuring out how far away your pilgrimage the beach is going come be. Us all have a preconceived id of exactly how much 1km or 50km or 100km (or the exact same in miles) is based upon prior knowledge. Once using kilometres, us don’t care around metres or millimetres.

To illustrate this further, let’s transform the only measurement the hasn’t to be metricated yet – time. The metric system does have actually a an interpretation for the 2nd but not any kind of other systems of time (makes me wonder howkilometres per hour works) for this reason let’s usage the second as the base unit. From there we move up the scale to deca, kilo, mega, and also giga to enhance something close to what we right now use. I avoid at the identical of one main here and am additionally skipping hecto because it doesn’t fit any kind of unitsclose to regular time. What you end up v is displayed in the table below.

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UnitValueNormal time equivalent
Second1 second1 second
Hectosecond100 sec1 m 40 s
Kilosecond1,000 sec16 m 40 s
Megasecond1,000,000 sec1 wk 4 work 13hr 46 min 40 sec

As you deserve to see, the multiple usage of prefix words becomes cumbersome and would be awkward in day-to-day language. This is a limitation the the prefixed base unit idea, while it does work, it has tendency to gain confusing if you should use a lot of them. You could apply the very same logic come lengths (a decametre, hectometre etc). Us don’t want to usage too countless of this prefixes to protect against confusion, which provides me wonder; external of the scientific circle, what’s the point of lock if we just use a couple of them at a time? can we not just use various words that aren’t straight related to one another? It’s no that difficult to mental a pair of words.


So over there you have it, the pros and (mostly) defect of the metric system. Ns think based upon the point out above, we have the right to say that the metric mechanism is good in science, maths or any situation wherein you need precision; but itis not really at its ideal when we use it for daily things favor in recipes or at the supermarket. I m sorry of course is fine, nothing is perfect!