The metric system, also known as the International System of Units (SI), is the world’s most widely used system of measurement. It is a decimal system based on the meter, kilogram, and second. The metric system is used in science, engineering, and commerce in virtually every country in the world, with the exception of the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar.
History of the Metric System in the US
The US has a long history of ambivalence towards the metric system. In 1866, Congress passed the Metric Act, which made the metric system legal for use in the US. However, the US continued to use the customary system of measurement, which is based on the British Imperial System.
In 1975, Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act, which declared the metric system to be the “preferred system of weights and measures for United States trade and commerce.” However, the act did not mandate the use of the metric system.
Use of the Metric System in the US Today
Today, the metric system is used in many different sectors of the US economy, including science, engineering, manufacturing, and education. However, the customary system is still the most widely used system of measurement in everyday life.
For example, most Americans measure distance in feet and miles, weight in pounds and ounces, and temperature in Fahrenheit. However, there are some notable exceptions. For example, food and beverage products are often labeled in metric units, and many cars and trucks have speedometers that display both miles per hour and kilometers per hour.
Benefits of the Metric System
The metric system has a number of advantages over the customary system. It is a decimal system, which makes it easier to perform calculations. It is also more consistent and logical. For example, the prefixes kilo-, mega-, and giga- are used to indicate multiples of a unit, while the prefixes milli-, micro-, and nano- are used to indicate fractions of a unit.
Challenges of Switching to the Metric System
Switching to the metric system would be a costly and time-consuming process. It would require new signage, packaging, and labeling. It would also require a public education campaign to teach Americans how to use the metric system.
The US is one of the few countries in the world that does not use the metric system as its primary system of measurement. While the metric system is used in many sectors of the US economy, the customary system is still the most widely used system of measurement in everyday life.
There are a number of benefits to switching to the metric system, including its simplicity, consistency, and logicality. However, switching to the metric system would be a costly and time-consuming process.