Iceland – A Century of Metric-Only Measurement
Many moons ago, Icelanders used an Old Norse calendar, streamlining a year down to just Winter and Summer. Icelanders reckon Sumardagurinn Fyrsti (First Day of Summer) a public holiday celebrated on the first Thursday after 18 April, so I specifically plan our trip to coincide. I find metric-only instructional signage very refreshing at a spectacular Geysir Area and at Kerið Volcanic Crater and at Gullfoss Waterfall:
Instructional Signage at Spectacular Geysir Area:
Instructional Signage at Kerið Volcanic Crater:
Instructional Signage at Gullfoss Waterfall:
Iceland has a very low level of pollution, thanks to an overwhelming reliance on cleaner geothermal energy, a low population density, and a high level of environmental consciousness among citizens. The amount of toxic material in the atmosphere is far lower than any other industrialized country measured. We found (through AIRBNB) a nice place to stay (Hraunteigur 28) in Reykjavík. Here is the room where we showered with hot sulfur-smelling water straight out of the ground:
One must add cold water (otherwise you cook like a lobster). Hot water running through a radiator is how homes are heated too. Renewable sources – geothermal and hydropower – provide effectively all of Iceland’s electricity and around 85% of the nation’s total primary energy consumption. Iceland is one of the few countries that have filling stations dispensing hydrogen fuel for cars powered by fuel cells. It is also one of a few countries currently capable of producing hydrogen in adequate quantities at a reasonable cost, because of Iceland’s plentiful renewable sources of energy.
The government of Iceland is in talks with the government of United Kingdom about the possibility of constructing a high-voltage direct-current connector for transmission of electricity. Iceland has considerable renewable energy resources, especially geothermal energy and hydropower resources, and most of the potential has not been developed, partly because there is not enough demand for additional electricity within Iceland. But the United Kingdom is interested in importing cheaper electricity from renewable energy sources.
HOW WAS GULLFOSS FORMED? The Gullfoss gorge was formed by flash flood waters that forced their way through cracks in the basalt lava layers. The average water flow in Gullfoss is 109 cubic meters per second (m3sec), but at times it can reach 2,000 m3sec. This flow is enough to fill 60 transportation containers with water in one second. In some instances, flash flood waters in Hvitá have been so great that the gorge below the waterfall has overflowed:
Would an American tourist have any idea how hot this 80-100° C water is based on instructional signage at the Geysir Area?
Would American tourists have any idea how much of a hike this 5 km Lighthouse Circle in Seltjarnarnes is?
“Hmmm – 38° C – Is that hot or cold? I wonder,” thought the American. I took this photo at the Reykjavík Hot Springs across the street from where we stayed:
“Hmmm – Maximum Height 120 cm – Is that tall or short?” thought the American:
What about this 6° C display in Reykjavík? Surely, restricting one’s knowledge of temperature only to the F Word (Fahrenheit) is a considerable disability when traveling around on Earth. (Advocates of American Exceptionalism seem to take much pride in willful ignorance as though it is somehow a good thing).
If you want letter size paper (8.5 x 11) you are out of luck in Iceland – Plenty of A4 though:
This sign conveys that one is leaving a 30 km/h (kilometers per hour) zone:
Of course petrol is sold by the liter in Iceland, like most everywhere else on Earth:
I find grocery shopping in Iceland a refreshing change from shopping back home where product labels are cluttered with dual measurements. Bananas are 425 Icelandic Króna (Kr) per Kilogram:
No one cares about ounces in Iceland:
In a Reykjavík Grocery Store is the first time I had ever seen an electronic price tag:
While in Iceland, the exchange rate was around 123 Kr to the US dollar.
Apparently most Icelandic robbers are shorter than 190 cm:
While testing my ability to fill out an electronic crossword puzzle on our Delta flight, I had no trouble answering 49 Across. SI, of course:
Our Delta aircraft reached a maximum altitude of 11,548 m according to the flight data displayed to each passenger:
I just cannot get metric-only folding rulers here in the United States, so I just had to check Brynja out:
I acquire a bunch of folding rulers there, which you can see at my Metric Pioneer Shop:
I ask the lady behind the counter at the entrance to the National Museum of Iceland (just for my own amusement) if she knew when Iceland adopted the metric system. “Iceland has always been metric!” is her enthusiastic though inaccurate response. I know the answer; I just wanted to know if she knew. So many generations of Icelanders have exclusively measured with the International System that no living memory of metrication remains on this wonderful island nation whose enchanting city Reykjavík is the northern-most national capital on Earth.