Another Brick in The Wall

green-acresBy The Metric Maven

GAO Report Edition

The 1978 GAO Report on the metric system has a chapter about metric construction. The first two sentences summarize the importance of construction:

The building and construction industry is one of the largest contributors to the gross national product. In 1976 new construction was valued at $147.5 billion, about 9 percent of the gross national product.

From 2005 to 2011 the percent of GDP from construction has varied from 5% to 9%.


Often I’ve wondered how many times over we could have had a gold-plated metric change-over using the money saved from 1905 onward if John Shafroth and his allies had converted the US to the metric system in the early twentieth century. The Australians have saved about 10% to 15% year on year from the 1970s onward from implementing metric construction.

The GAO Report states:

Metrication of the building and construction industry probably would not occur in the near future unless it is mandated or the Federal Government plays a greater role in bringing it about.

With the exception of a single instance, every construction worker I have spoken with has greeted me with a negative visceral reaction when I ask about metric construction. The only one who did not, had an Australian wife, had visited his relatives there, and saw it first hand. I have little hope that metrication of the building industry will become a contemporary topic in the US and reform initiated.

The GAO report admits that much of the advantage of metric construction is lost if “Soft” metric conversion is undertaken, but seems to have contracted a case of amnesia in its chapter on US construction. Under the plan envisioned by the Construction Industries Coordination Committee “… the 2 by 4 (inches) stud, which is used extensively in building, would be “soft converted” to the nearest millimeter, 38 by 89.”

For metric panel products “…it appears…to be the industry consensus that the standard 4- by 8-feet (1,219.2 by 2438.4 millimeters) wood panel would be changed to 1,200 by 2,400 millimeters, a reduction of about 3/4 inches in width and 1-1/2 inches in height.” This looks much better. Millimeters have been implemented and hard metric has been adopted for panels.

The GAO then has a section where they point out the industry has no impetus to convert:

The industry presently has no compelling or pressing need to convert in that (1) metrication is voluntary, (2) the industry can still obtain customary materials without any difficulty, (3) customers are not demanding metric products, and (4) the industry exports very little and those we contacted which were involved in exporting generally did not view the measurement system as a significant factor in exports. Without a compelling reason to convert, many in the industry are reluctant to make the change. …

The GAO Report surveyed five US design and construction companies. They claimed that metric conversion would have little impact on the amount of foreign work they would procure, and stated that the “United States being customary had not impeded their efforts to win foreign contracts.”

One might ask how they know this? Perhaps rather than just asking US contractors, one might ask international ones also, and customers. Without any study, this assertion is really just conjecture and there are contemporary examples of how the lack of metric has cost foreign contractors money. The GAO has a more compelling argument when it comes to international standards for wood panels:

Another factor to consider in examining the impact of metrication on exports of building products is whether the metric sizes that would be produced in the United States would be the same as the standard in other countries. A member of the ANMC Lumber and Wood Products Sector Committee told us that he did not believe that metric conversion would make much difference in exports. In wood paneling, for example, a wide variety of sizes are used in other countries. The 1,200- by 2,400-millimeters size which the U.S. industry would probably adopt is fairly common in Europe, but West Germany was using a 1,250- by 2,500-millimeters panel and Japan was using a 900- by 1,800-millimeter panel. The representative further said that the U.S. industry has done well in foreign markets with its customary sizes and that these sizes have not been a problem in international markets because dimensions are not that critical.

The concrete block industry is examined:

In 1974 the U.S. concrete block industry consisted of about 1,600 plants producing about $1 billion of block. … Metric-size block is expected to be in multiples of 100 millimeters, as are other products, such as brick and paneling, that block sizes are coordinated with. The standard metric block probably would have actual dimensions of 190 by 190 by 390 millimeters and a mortar allowance of 10 millimeters.


The authors of the GAO Report seem unaware of the utility of a 200 mm x 400 mm area that includes the mortar. Ten blocks upward is 2000 mm or two meters, ten blocks across is 4000 mm or four meters. The idea of using 9.5 mm of mortar with “soft converted” customary blocks is floated, and then thankfully rejected.

A standard modular brick would be 90 by 57 by 190 millimeters. With 10 mm of mortar, the area would be 100 mm x 200 mm. Again it is obvious that 10 bricks would be one meter in the short direction and two meters in the long one. The report does not note this simple useful fact.

Pat Naughtin asserted that a metric switch-over is a perfect time to reform poor industrial practices. The GAO report addresses this possibility:

…These could be studied and evaluated to determine whether new and different practices may be more beneficial. For example, placing studs 16 inches on center is still a common practice. Some are placed 24 inches on center. In making a change to metric, the industry and Codes and Standards officials may agree on placing studs 60 centimeters (about 24 inches) on center. This new practice may save lumber and construction time.

One can clearly see the GAO authors are still thinking in terms of inches when they quote 60 centimeters instead of 600 millimeters. The center to center separation change is important, but so is the number of divisors for the efficient integer method used in metric construction.

Dimensional coordination is seen as important:

Dimensional coordination is establishing a direct relationship between the dimensions of a building and the products and materials used in its construction so that they fit together with a minimum amount of cutting and adjusting. The key to the concept is that the sizes of all products are in certain multiples and sub-multiples of a basic module–a unit of length, such as 4 inches or the internationally accepted 100 millimeters–so the products will interface. For example, a building 40 feet in length, 30 concrete blocks each 16 inches long with the mortar could be used without cutting blocks (30 by 16 inches equals 480 inches or 40 feet). In addition, sixty 8-inch-long bricks and ten 4- by 8-feet wall panels could be used without cutting. All of these dimensions are multiples of 4 inches. This pattern could be followed for windows doors, tile, bathtubs, kitchen cabinets, etc.

Yes, the authors are arguing that one could use 4 inch modules rather than 100 mm ones—just as effectively?–just look at the conversion gyrations in the paragraph above for Ye Olde English. The view that a millimeter is a better idea than using an inch is lost on Americans who see the inch as the only hammer around. They just convert the values back to a four inch “module.” In Ye Olde English “parts is parts.” A four inch module has factors of 1, 2 and 4 and only divides evenly using these values. A 100 millimeter module is evenly divisible by 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50 and 100. When studs are spaced 600 mm center to center this distance can be evenly divided by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 24, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75, 100, 120, 150, 200, 300, 600 whereas 24 inches is only divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24. The two sets of arithmetic are not the same. This is an apparent false equivalency that is no better than comparing Roman Numerals with Hindu-Arabic ones. This view appears to be either born of ignorance, or a is a ruse to continue using inches and not change to metric by falsely claiming the real secret offered is only the modular concept. The GAO states: “Dimensional coordination was first proposed in 1936.” (16-28), but they do not say what measurement system was used in that proposal.

The GAO goes on to point out that many products are available in multiples of 4 inches, with the underlying assumption that little hope exists that such a concept would be adopted (the absurdity of using both feet and inches in the paragraph below without inches alone is not noticed by the author):

….The manufacturers of the various products independently arrived at their sizes without considering they would interface with the other products. An example is the standard 6 feet 8 inches door, which is a multiple of four inches. The opening in the masonry walls also is often 6 feet by 8 inches in height. The problem is that a 2-inch casing for the door is needed. Thus, a 2-inch strip has to be cut out of the masonry blocks for the door casing.

The GAO goes on to point out that custom sizes are often ordered by architects, and the entire idea of modular construction, with four inch modules is, of course, unworkable, and the concept is summarily dismissed.  In case you missed that point, on page (16-29) they again make it clear:

Use of a metric module, such as 100 millimeters rather than 4 inches, is not viewed as improving the concept.

And one would never question the perfection of technical Darwinism:

The sizes of building products generally have developed in the marketplace over the years to fit the industry’s needs. In addition, product sizes are often a means of competition between manufacturers. All product sizes are generally not produced by all manufacturers. (16-31)

In a finite and rational world, one might want to implement modular design as a way to conserve resources. In the world of technical Darwinism, this would limit the blind “competition between manufacturers.”

The implementation of metric is seen by proponents as an opportunity to improve building codes, but the GAO throws water on that ember:

However, if metrication occurs, some costs are certain, but benefits are not assured. There are no assurances that the opportunity to improve the codes would be taken or that the improvements would not be achieved under the customary system.” (16-32)

The fact that 50 states have 50 different codes is indeed a reason for doubt, but it is not the fault of the metric system, but our form of ineffective government. According to the Report:

The States also have been active in improving building codes. In 1965 only five States had adopted legislation providing for the promulgation of mandatory statewide building codes applicable to construction, with some exceptions. Latest available data indicates that 19 States have statewide building codes that set at least minimum requirements for construction, with some exceptions.

The GAO pointed out that no one company exists to take the lead and enforce metric in the construction industry. Any one supplier who changed to metric would find themselves drowning in a sea of Ye Olde English supplies. The GAO relates a company that switched to dual-dimensioned drawings for construction, found that its sales slipped as people who used the drawings didn’t know what they were. The firm reverted to customary units.

When polled, unsurprisingly, 82% of small construction firms agreed with the statement “Conversion Would be Costly.” The Australian, New Zealand, UK, South Africa and other construction industries have long ago shown that exactly the opposite is true. The GAO goes on to state that the benefits are uncertain for metric conversion of the construction industry. The questionnaire asked if “Metric is Easier to Use and Would Result in Fewer Errors.” 55% of small construction firms disagreed with the statement, with only 26% agreeing, others were unsure. The industry associations polled had 47% in agreement, 24% disagreed and the rest were uncertain. The GAO was only polling “gut feeling” and not “practical experience.”

With the hindsight of history, one can readily see that asking people for an opinion about something they have never experienced is a questionable methodology.

The GAO report quite rationally states that the building and construction industry will probably never convert to the metric system without a national policy and a mandatory conversion requirement from the Federal Government. It is also stated that “Mandatory conversion is generally opposed by the industry.” The Report issues a caution about using only government procurement as a method to move metric along:

Several of the Federal officials believed that their agencies were not large enough in the building and construction market to have an impact. In total, the Federal Government has only about 5 percent of the construction market.

Australia was able to convert their construction industry to metric in about 18 months. They reap the benefits to this day. In “can’t do America” I don’t see this will ever happen.

If you liked this essay and wish to support the work of The Metric Maven, please visit his Patreon Page

Related essays:

Building a Metric Shed

The Metric Dream House

The Metric Maven has published a book titled The Dimensions of The Cosmos. It examines the basic quantities of the world from yocto to Yotta with a mixture of scientific anecdotes and may be purchased here.


The Singular Beverage Experience

dr_stringfellowBy The Metric Maven

GAO Report Edition

There are two chestnuts that are perennially trotted out to “show” that the US is on its way to metric. One is the 2 liter bottle of soda, the other is the fact that liquor is sold in metric quantities. The 1978 GAO Report chapter on beverages indicates a quick change took place in the 1970s, and then the metrication of beverages was frozen in place at near zero kelvin. What happened has become mythologized in the last few decades. The GAO Report is interesting as it comprehensively looks at all the beverage sectors. It is also an example of how tone-deaf Americans are when dealing with metric—something that could be remedied in five minutes.

The report begins by explaining that:

Wines and distilled spirits are converting their products to metric sizes for marketing reasons. Both are regulated by the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; however, the producers requested the change. A considerable portion of their products are now being sold in metric sizes.

The Report notes that soft drink manufacturers have introduced products with metric volumes in many areas of the US. However, the soft drink industry “did not plan an overall metric conversion in the near future.” Milk has labels with metric equivalents, but had no plan to change-over to metric sizes.

The beer industry sells all its products in customary sizes and did not plan to convert to metric sizes. Some brewers showed metric equivalents on their labels.

This statement was made decades before the recent craft brewing movement began. Their current marketing seems to be based upon unit proliferation.

The Report first discusses the wine industry. They decided to convert their entire product line to metric. Amazingly:

…it was the Wine Institute, a trade association representing California wine producers, that petitioned the Bureau to convert to metric sizes and reduce the number of permissible sizes.

The organization wanted to reduce the number of permissible sizes from 16 customary to 7 metric sizes. A table is then included that shows only 9 of the 16 customary sizes were in general use.

The Wine Institute made the request because many imported wines were being sold in bottles containing up to several ounces less than the 4/5 quart (the fifth 25.6 ounces), the most common size used by domestic  products. The bottles used for imported wines appeared to contain the same amount of contents as those used for domestic wines. The industry believed the practice was deceptive to consumers and gave foreign producers an unfair competitive advantage.

At a hearing held on the Wine Institute request, it was brought out that imported wines should not be required to use customary-size bottles because the National Bureau of Standards study had recommended that the United States switch to the metric system over a 10-year period. Subsequently, the Bureau denied the request because it considered it inappropriate to require foreign wine producers to use customary-size bottles for sales in the United States.

It appears that the wine producers first wanted to force foreign manufacturers to produce wines in Ye Olde English, but because alcohol is one of the few government regulated industries in the US. The NBS had the authority to tell the wine producers they had to switch to metric. It appears as clear as a summer day, that given their choice, the wine manufacturers would have forced foreign manufacturers to produce a set of bottles in Olde English for the US and metric for the rest of the world.

As it was:

The Wine Institute selected the 750-milliliter (25.4 ounces) size as the primary size because it was very close to the 4/5 quart (25.6 ounces) which comprised about 48 percent of the industry’s sales. The 750 milliliter was also used in other countries. Four other metric sizes–the 3 liter, 1.5 liter, 375 milliliter and 187 milliliter–were selected by the Wine Institute because they were multiples or submultiples of the 750 milliliter and thus would enable consumers to make price comparisons between sizes. Selection of the 375 and the 187 milliliters also permitted continuation of sizes similar to those consumers and the industry were familiar with.

Miraculously, the NBS held a public hearing on the subject, and all the persons who spoke were either for the conversion or didn’t oppose it. The NBS took written comments. 40 comments were submitted, and only three were opposed to the metric switch-over.

In June of 1974, the NBS approved seven metric sizes. Six had been requested by the Wine Institute plus the 100 milliliter which “had been requested by foreign wine producers, importers, and airlines to permit importation of sherries sold in one-person servings. The conversion period would be 4 years beginning in January of 1975 and ending on December 31, 1978. Four years was chosen to allow for existing glass molds to wear-out. Foreign wine producers would now have to conform to the US metric size requirements.

The conversion process was about complete in October of 1978, when the GAO Report was issued. The amount of time given allowed for the orderly transition that took place. The largest snag was not technical but legal. Tax law was written using Olde English units, and the producers had to convert the values for tax purposes. In this case the producers put the conversion to good use by introducing reforms that might not otherwise have taken place:

… One wine company official told us that about $12,000 annually in storage costs will be saved because of the new shape, a 375-millilier bottle, will be used to replace three, 4/5-pint bottles that the company previously used. Changes in other bottles could also result in some savings to the industry. These changes could have been made without converting to metric, but the metric conversion was viewed as providing the opportunity to make the changes.

Pat Naughtin would most certainly have been pleased.

This is a good moment to look at the tone-deaf use of metric units by the authors of the Report. The first is the archaic Olde English notion that one should switch from milliliters to liters. Rather than switch to liters, one should use Naughtin’s second and third laws to make the numbers all integers and not switch metric prefixes:

100 mL, 187 mL, 375 mL ,750 mL, 1000 mL, 3000 mL

Indeed, one can use the 750 mL size as a standard price touchstone, but only if the store carries that particular size for the wine you desire. A go-to way to describe the price is in dollars (or cents) per 100 mL.  If the 100 mL item is shown as $2.00 per 100 mL and the 750 mL bottle has $1.45 per 100 mL, then it is very easy to compare, just like metric fuel efficiency. Each item should have a price per 100 mL for comparison.

The GAO next indicates that consumers will receive limited benefits. They immediately argue:

The 100 milliliter will be more difficult to make comparisons with than the other sizes; however little use will be made of this size, and consumers will feel little impact.


… Also, sizes such as 4 and 5 liters cannot be easily compared in volume to other metric sizes, such as the 750 milliliter and the 1.5 and 3 liter, thereby defeating another of the original aims of metrication.

No, just demand that shelf pricing include the price per 100 mL for each size.

The Department of the Treasury was criticized for waiting until two years after the metric wine conversion to issue the chart below:


Once again, we see the metric sizes treated like Olde English sizes with liters and milliliters, rather than just one unit. The cultural inertia to continue with factors of two makes metric seem unwieldy. This practice continues on their more graphically designed chart:


The distilled spirits industry also converted to metric and decided to reduce the number of sizes. The GAO seems shocked that they decided to do so using metric: “The size reductions could have been achieved without metrication.” Again a table is offered for the new sizes:


The metric sizes are more rational at 50 mL, 200 mL, 500 mL, 750 mL, 1000 mL and 1750 mL. The chart immediately changes the 1000 mL and 1750 mL to liters, which introduces a cognitive discontinuity.

The conversion is also being carried out under regulations prescribed by the Bureau. However, it was the Distilled Spirits Council, a trade association which represents about 95 percent of the distilled spirits industry, that petitioned the Bureau for permission to convert to metric sizes and reduce the number of permissible sizes. Among the reasons given by the Council for wanting to convert were to (1) reduce production costs, (2) permit marketing and distribution efficiencies, (3) provide better service to the public, and (4) promote exports.(26-18) and (26-19)

What precipitated the change?:

The legislation by the Congress directing NBS to study metrication also stimulated the industry to consider converting to metric.

The agreement by the European Economic Community to use 17 metric sizes for trade among the member nations was also a factor. There were arguments about what sizes to adopt, but not the fact that the industry would become metric.

When the conversion was announced in 1976, the Bureau Director stated:

..the change to metric would (1) reduce significantly the number of bottle sizes, (2) provide enough separation between sizes to deter possible consumer deception, and (3) make calculations easier because of round numbers. [italics mine] (26-20)

It is good to see that at least one person saw the advantage of integers.

The cost of conversion did not seem to be much of a deterrent: “One distilled spirits official described the conversion as posing no difficult problems for his company. He said the company is constantly making changes in its operations. New bottles are introduced, new labels developed, and production lines are adjusted to handle bottles of different sizes with varying contents. He viewed the change to metric as just another change; one not much different than his company faces on a day-to-day basis.

Another official of a distilled spirits producer told us that his company estimated it would cost $1.5 million to make the conversion. ….. This amount, however was not considered substantial in that it amounted to less than 0.5 percent of the company’s annual sales.”

One company didn’t seem to see the costs as attributable to metrication as they had timed the transition to coincide with a time when they were replacing worn-out glass molds with new ones. The GAO spends more time asserting that metric will make price comparisons harder, and still does not mention price per 100 mL as an option. Once again, milliliters and liters are implemented by the Treasury:


A more graphically designed poster again switches from milliliters to liters, and argues that it is simplicity:


The choice of 750 mL is based on one-fifth of a gallon. This has produced an incompatibility with Europe and affects our international trade. The operators of Montanya Distilleries in Crested Butte, Colorado make rum, and wanted to expand their sales into Europe. The problem is that US bottles are 750 mL and European bottles are standardized at 700 mL. The distillery could not obtain 700 mL bottles in the US so they had two choices. The first was to import 700 mL bottles from Europe, fill them with rum, and then export them back to Europe.  This was definitely cost prohibitive. The second option was to obtain permission to send the rum over to Europe in bulk and have it bottled there. The distillery chose the second option, which employs Europeans and their glassware industry.

One can argue that 750 mL makes the most sense as it is half-way between 500 mL and 1000 mL. But it is the only case of doubling in the entire chart.  It would have made more sense to go with 700 mL as it fits well with price comparisons using price per 100 mL and would increase our compatibility with other countries. Our government never seems to find a way to ever rationally study and act upon problems like this one, and US industry and commerce suffers as a consequence—but we preserved a metric version of our Ye Olde English volume!

The soft drink industry is examined next by the GAO, and here there is a bit of a surprise:

Use of metric size containers for soft drinks began in April 1975 when  a major soft drink company introduced the liter size in one of its marketing areas. The company wanted to use the new bottle which, while shorter, would cost less since it contained less glass and would perform better on production lines. The new bottle would also permit a 20-percent savings in space for bottlers because (1) more cartons could be placed in the same amount of space, (2) increased payloads would be possible for trucks, and (3) more storage capability would result in warehouses. Also, customers preferred the new bottle. (26-30)

The company viewed using the liter as an opportunity to be the first in the soft drink industry with the metric system.

Yes, the liter was first introduced in the US and not the two liter bottle. “… the company also began use of 1/2-liter and the 2-liter sizes. Both refillable and nonrefillable metric-size bottles were used.” (26-31)

But, like beer, there was a demarcation:

All the metric soft drink changes that we are aware of involved soft drinks sold in bottles. No soft drinks were being sold in metric-size cans. Soft drink industry officials told us that no conversions involved cans because the costs to convert can production facilities would be too high, about $1 million for each can production line. Also, concern was expressed on the impact changing can sizes would have on vending machines.

It is clear that machines wear-out and small aluminum cans of soda have been introduced over the years. It is very difficult to believe that in the last three decades an opportunity did not arise to make soda cans metric. The desire to decrease the amount of material in each can is monumental, would not going from a 355 mL can to a 350 mL can make sense? In recent years aluminum “bottles” of soda have made their way onto US shelves. Could they not have been changed over to metric from 251 mL to 250 mL?


The soft drink industry also saw voluntary metric conversion as meaning optional metric conversion. They assume that government would impose how they would do metric rather than just saying you have to go metric, you figure out how you would like to do that.

30lThe GAO praised the soft drink industry for using “1/2 liter, liter, and 2 liter–[which] are multiples of one another.” This in their view made it easy for consumers to compare prices.” If the soft drink industry had actually been compelled to convert then what is said next would not still exist:

Soft drinks are sold in 15 customary size containers–6-1/2, 7, 8, 10, 12, 16, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 36, 48, and 64 ounces. Many of these sizes do not lend to easy price comparisons with other sizes. Also many soft drinks are sold in cartons having 2, 4, 6, 8, or other quantity containers. Because of this, the soft drink cartons consumers purchase come in sizes such as 39, 42, 96, and 128 ounces–quantities which do not lend to easy price comparisons.

If there were a complete conversion to metric sizes, this could help facilitate consumer price comparisons, particularly if rational sizes like 1/2 liter, liter, and 2 liter are used. For example, the price of a carton of eight 1/2-liter bottles (4 liters) could easily be compared with the price of four 1-liter bottles or two 2-liter bottles. The same advantage could be achieved, however, if soft drinks were sold in customary sizes that were multiples of one another.

The GAO just had to take a jab at metric. Without a metric switch-over what opportunity might present itself to change the custom(-ary) units to a more rational series? Interestingly The Onion has it’s own take on the situation.

We next move on to milk:

The sizes in which milk may be sold is strictly regulated by various state laws. At present, the 1/2 pint, pint, quart, 1/2 gallon and gallon are the most commonly used sizes. They are all multiples of one another which makes price comparisons for consumers simple.

Really? compare the half-pint to the half-gallon and get back to me on that. The paragraph goes on:

Other sizes permitted include the gill, an amount equal to 1/4 pint, and 3 quarts. The 3-quart size is permitted in about 20 states but is not widely used.

This points out yet again that weights and measures have been left to the states, and the Federal government has been asleep at the switch since at least 1797. This means:

The States have not approved the sale of milk in metric sizes. … It appears that if conversion occurs, the most frequently used metric sizes would be as follows.(26-35)


Ok, let me help the GAO out here and show them how to use Naughtin’s Laws:


They point out that “Each of the above metric sizes is about 6 percent larger than the customary size it would replace.”

Beer producers vigorously opposed any metrication efforts that would make its container sizes obsolete. Again:

The sizes in which beer is sold is regulated by the States and many different sizes are authorized. Under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act, the States are provided the authority to regulate beer sizes. The sizes most widely used are 7, 12, 16, and 32 ounces. Revisions of laws in many States would be necessary if the industry converted to metric sizes

Strangely, it was cost effective for the soft-drink industry to change their bottles, but the replacement of 12 ounce bottles of beer would be prohibitively expensive?

Several industry officials believed it was inevitable that the industry would convert to metric. But, they believed conversions would not occur for many years unless required by the government. …. Industry officials believed that the United States should continue a voluntary policy of converting to the metric system. (26-36)

The GAO Report has an interesting history of the mixed-bag that is the beverage industry. The wine and distilled spirits world became metric, the soft drink industry added metric to the mix, and the milk and beer industries flat-out rejected metric. Why the consensus for metric occurred in the wine and liquor industries and how government appeared to have made it happen is still mysterious, the beer brewers were completely against it and had their way. What the Report contains is a description of the sudden change that occurred in a small segment of the US economy in the 1970s. It is a fossil that describes the living-fossil that is the United States of America when it comes to weights and measures.

If you liked this essay and wish to support the work of The Metric Maven, please visit his Patreon Page

Related essay: Taking The Metric Fifth


The Metric Maven has published a book titled The Dimensions of The Cosmos. It examines the basic quantities of the world from yocto to Yotta with a mixture of scientific anecdotes and may be purchased here.