National Metric Day 2016

National metric dayToday marks the 40th annual Metric Week celebration. The 10th day of the 10th month is known as National Metric Day in the US. The metric system is recognized as the preferred system for:

  • weights & measures
  • science
  • engineering
  • mathematics

The metric system is based on units of 10 and uses prefixes to refer to multiples.

US Metric Adoption

At multiple points in time, different industries in the US recognized the need to adopt the metric system. An early example involved the USPS in the 1860’s. Postal workers needed to use the gram when working with international letters and packages.

In 1875, the US signed the Meter Convention, an international treaty that established the International System of Units for global trade. The treaty was signed by 16 other nations in Paris, France.

President Ford signed the Metric Conversion Act in 1975. Afterwards, schools started teaching metric to students. Although the US practices dual standards, many people have strong opinions on using the metric system versus the imperial or “standard” measurement system. Major US companies, such as Proctor & Gamble and General Motors have both realized the benefits of metric.

Global Metric Adoption

Currently, there are only 3 countries (including the US) that do not recognize the metric system as the preferred standard of measurement. While some feel that converting over to a “metric-only” system would be costly, many feel that it would be cheaper in the long-run.

When converting units from standard to metric, errors can occur. This is especially true in situations where multiple, complex calculations are involved, such as space exploration. The Mars Climate Orbiter crash in 1998 was very costly, the main error was pinpointed as an inaccuracy when converting units between systems. Events like this illustrate the need for standard measurement.

Today, we celebrate having the ability to have a system of measurement that is recognized and used world-wide. Happy National Metric Day!