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The Guardian

Impracticality of imperial units burden U.S.

Christian Tchilikov, Guest Writer

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Space travel has without a doubt resulted in a plethora of new cutting-edge technologies. Whether you support it or not, space travel and the organizations behind it are known for pushing the boundaries of what is thought to be possible and performing Herculean tasks with flawless execution.

However, even NASA, the biggest and baddest of them all, managed to crash a $125 million taxpayer- funded  Mars probe. This wasn’t due to faulty components either, rather the accident happened because of a simple misunderstanding between NASA and NASA’s partner company, Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin used English units of measurement whereas NASA used the more conventional metric system.

Although the Mars Probe Incident of 1999 may be a dramatic example of the confusion that intertwining the two units causes, it serves to show that there is simply no need for the United States to use two units of measure.

For those who don’t know, the imperial system consists primarily of inches, feet and miles where there is no obvious interval to convert between the three. metric, on the other hand, consists of centimeters, meters and kilometers, and each is ten times larger than the other, respectively. Not only is it harder to convert within imperial, but converting between the two systems becomes a catastrophe.

As a product of the U.S. public schooling system, I feel that the imperial units of measurement are not only obsolete, but a burden on American students. Why are we as a nation teaching our children an outdated and inferior system of measurement, rather than the international standard of metric?

As a solution, it would be much more practical if the United States abandoned the imperial system and used the metric system not only for international and scientific purposes, but for domestic use as well.

I have experienced the difficulties of this firsthand; whenever talking to anyone foreign, a measurement of some sort is always prone to arise. Because of the difference in the systems used, I am never able to aptly answer the question at hand. By teaching the imperial system, we are isolating them from the international language of measurement and setting them up for failure. Not only is this an inconvenience to students, but it becomes a larger problem in the grand scheme of things. Whether it’s an airplane running out of fuel mid-flight, a patient receiving extreme doses of sedative or NASA miscalculating several times, the end result is never cheap.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, then perhaps it’s better to ask why shouldn’t the United States switch to metric. American author John Marciano called it “a piece of [our] heritage.”

In regards to the metric system being a part of our heritage, just because something has been around for a long time does not make it good. The imperial system is not a piece of aged cheese. Rather it’s a moldy one that should have been disposed of a long time ago. As for the metric system being too “un-American,” it would be wise to note that the imperial system originated from England, so it ,too, is not American. Aside from these trivial responses, there is no solid reason for us to refuse to switch.

In conclusion, it is time for the United States to stop burdening its students, citizens and itself with an outdated system of measurement that burdens those who use it. The time to adopt the superior metric system is now, and I truly believe that in time the change will be a welcomed one and well worth the battle.

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The student news site of Elk Grove High School
Impracticality of imperial units burden U.S.