Happy 218th, Metric System!

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Happy 218th, Metric System!


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

[url=http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/05/dayintech_0508]May 8, 1790: Libertй! Egalitй! Mйtriquй![/url]


1790: The French National Assembly decides to create a decimal system of measurement. The metric system is born.

This came after the storming of the Bastille but still before the declaration of a republic and the execution of King Louis XVI. But revolution was in the air: "National Assembly" was simply the new name the upstart Third Estate had given itself.

The assembly was acting on a motion by Bishop Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. Under the ancien rйgime, France measured with an inch, foot and fathom (pouce, pied and toise) about 6.6 percent larger than their English counterparts.

The first meter was based on clockmaking: the length of a pendulum with a half-period (a one-way swing) of one second. Responding to a proposal by the French Academy of Sciences, the assembly redefined the meter in 1793 as 1/10,000 of the distance from the Equator to the North Pole.


So what's a few decimal places between friends?

It's 1/10,000,000 not 1/10,000.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

What? I thought it was six miles from the north coast of Brazil to Alert, NWT!

This revelation will have a profound effect on my vacation plans.