Daily Management Review

Why Still Fahrenheit?


In fact, all countries in the world, excluding the United States, measure the temperature on the Celsius scale. This is logical: the Celsius scale is very reasonable defines 0 degrees as the freezing point of water and 100 degrees - the temperature of its boiling point. Fahrenheit correspond these values to 32 and 212 degrees.

It's not just a matter of aesthetics. The stubborn unwillingness of Americans to abandon the measurement of temperature in Fahrenheit and go to the metric system has a number of very real consequences.

One mistake in the translation from the American system into the metric has led to the collapse of NASA probe in the atmosphere of Mars, the cost of which was $ 125 million. So why does the US continue to use the older system of measurement?

Two historical phenomenon: the British colonialism and the US Congress can be blamed for this.

At the beginning of the XVIII century, Fahrenheit measuring system was an excellent and very useful system. It was invented by a German scientist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, who was born in Poland in 1686.

Even in his youth, he was fascinated by the idea of measuring the temperature. Now it may seem strange, but at the time, the temperature measurement was quite difficult. Nobody then had not yet invented the consistent, reliable system for this purpose.

, The inventor was able to produce two Fahrenheit thermometers, which showed the same values, at the age of only 28 years. No one before him had been able to do this.

Since Fahrenheit was the first inventor of the thermometer, he had to invent the scale by which he could denote values of different temperatures – this was the Fahrenheit scale.

Fahrenheit established the zero mark on the lowest temperature he could get by measuring the temperature of the water with salt. He then made a second mark - 96 degrees is the average human body temperature. As a result, the boiling point was 212 degrees and the freezing temperature of water - 32 degrees.

In 1724, Fahrenheit joined the Royal Society, and then his measurement system got widespread in Britain.

As Britain conquered new territory in the XVIII and XIX centuries, they spread this system around. At the time, the Fahrenheit scale was the standard for the measurement of temperature in many areas of the globe.

English-speaking world was in the suburbs. By the middle of XX century, most countries have adopted Celsius - a popular system for measuring the temperature within the modern metric system.

Celsius scale was invented in 1742 by the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius. He first conducted experiments aimed at determining the international measurement system on a scientific basis, and proceeded with publishing the results.

Around 1790, the Celsius scale was introduced in the metric system. Simplicity and functionality of the research helped this system become widespread throughout the world. English-speaking countries also began to use this system in the second half of the XX century. Even Great Britain started the process of transition to the metric system in 1965. The country has still not fully passed on this system.

Virtually every country that in the past was a British colony, also switched to the metric system. Some countries have done this even before the UK (such as India), some - after (such as Canada, Australia and South Africa). These processes are taking place in different countries, also forced the United States to consider the possibility of switching to the metric system.

The transition to the metric system seems to be quite a smart move, not only because this is more convenient, but also because the transition to a single system with other countries will lead to the fact that scientific cooperation with them will be easier.

Congress passed a law - 1975 Metric Conversion Act, according to which in theory the country should begin the process of transition to the metric system. There was even a special commission, which was determined to monitor the process of transition.

However, this law was never implemented until the end. Since, according to the law, the transition to the metric system was to be voluntary, the public opinion on this issue was crucial. And people did not really want to strain and learn the new system of measurement.

Motorists were against the idea of road signs indicating the distance in kilometers, forecasters opposed the idea of the temperature forecasts in Celsius, and buyers - the prospect of buying in kilograms. Trade unions were strongly opposed to the idea, otherwise the employees had to learn a new system of measurement.

President Reagan dismissed the Metric Commission in 1982.

Today, the US is not the only country in the world that does not use the metric system, there are Burma and Liberia hold of Fahrenheit besides them as well, despite the fact that in 2013, Burma has announced its intention to move to the metric system.

Today only about 30% of US products have been metrified. The pharmaceutical industry in the United States is called "strict metrical" since all the characteristics of the country's pharmaceutical products are indicated only in metric units.

As for drinks, there are designations in metric and US systems of traditional values. This industry is considered "soft metric". The metric system used in the United States by producers of the film, tools and bicycles as well. The rest of in the US prefer the old fashioned way: ancient inches and pounds. And this applies even to such a young industry as high technology.

What prevents a highly developed industrialized country to go to on our planet conventional weights and measures? There are a number of reasons.

One of the reasons are those costs that would have to bear the country's economy in the event of the transition to SI. They would have to rework the technical drawings and instructions for complex equipment, what would require considerable labor-paid professionals - and hence money.

For example, NASA engineers said that the drawings of space shuttles, software and documentation transfer in the metric system of would cost $ 370 million, that is about half the cost of a space shuttle launch.

Outdated system of measurement, which is used in the United States, including the Fahrenheit scale, has a negative effect on science and scientific cooperation with other countries in the United States and to do business and cooperate in business at an international level.

American companies have to spend additional funds for the production of two sets of products - one for the US and other countries using the metric system.

Parents and caregivers can easily be mistaken for a transfer from one unit to another, when they give medication to children or patients - two categories of persons who are particularly susceptible to overdose.

In addition, American students have to learn two systems of measurement, which makes the system itself more difficult.

Therefore, despite the fact that Daniel Fahrenheit made the world a great favor when he invented the first reliable thermometer, its measurement system is obsolete. And that is why many believe that it is America’s high time to switch to the metric system, and to use, in particular, the Celsius scale to measure temperature.


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