Metric Pioneer

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Spelling Variations of International System Unit Names

Measurement harmony on Earth has obvious advantages. Governments all around the world have standardized units of measure in our era of globalization and international trade. The International System (SI) of units makes use of standardized symbols for length, volume, and mass. These symbols transcend language. In other words, these symbols are the same in every language.

Unit Symbols

It would be wonderful if every language could share a standardized spelling of international units, but not every language uses a Latin-based script. Chinese does not even use an alphabet. A meter is spelled metro in Italian, Spanish and Basque. A meter is spelled metar in Croatian and mita in Igbo. The spelling variation list goes on and on. So you see, employing unit symbols for product labeling transcends language differences.

The Human mind is keen on finding patterns in Nature, so it is no surprise that some people insist that the spelling of metre / meter and litre / liter be standardized in English. That’s not gonna happen. American English has evolved many variations across a wide ocean. We are lucky enough on the rare occasion that an American even uses the word meter. By the way, Americans and Brits spell many words differently. Here is a short list: theater / theatre — color / colour — flavor / flavour — center / centre — maneuver / manoeuvre. For heaven’s sake, we cannot even standardize / standardise the word standardize / standardise!

The primary SI unit is spelled meter in at least ten non-English languages. Those languages are:
Spelling Language
The primary SI unit is spelled metre in only three non-English languages: Catalan, Turkish and French. So it can be argued that Earthlings tend to prefer the spelling meter over the metre.

Then there is the argument that the word meter already has a meaning, so we must spell metre the British way in order to avoid potential confusion. Well that argument falls short too. In this sentence — They were too close to the door to close it — the word close has two different meanings, yet it is spelled the same way. Languages are loaded with heteronyms, so the fact that the word meter can have different meanings is not a big deal. Do not desert me here in the desert! Do you know what a buck does to does? I did not object to the object. We must polish the Polish furniture. He thought it was time to present the present. OK. You don’t need more examples. You get the idea.

Please stop arguing about how meter / metre and liter / litre are spelled. This spelling issue serves only to distract us from our goal of measurement harmony on Earth.

Women on Currency Notes in the United States

Harriet Tubman might appear on the $20 bill by 2020. She would not be the first woman featured on a US bank note though:
Harriet Tubman
Almost a full century after gaining independence from the Imperial Crown, Americans first issue their one-dollar bill in 1862 as a Legal Tender Note (United States Note) with a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln:
Americans issue the first $5 bill in 1861 as a Demand Note with a small portrait of Alexander Hamilton on the right and an allegorical female statue representing freedom on the left side of the obverse. Americans issue the first $5 United States Note in 1862 with a face design similar to the previous Demand Note and a completely revised reverse:
American currency notes mostly feature portraits of named men for the first quarter century. Only unnamed allegorical women occasionally appear during this period:
This 1875 specimen actually shows a nipple. Woo Hoo!
Americans redesign the $1 United States Note in 1869 with a portrait of George Washington in the center and a vignette of Christopher Columbus sighting land to the left. Here is an 1880 specimen:
More unnamed allegorical women appear in 1880:
It was twenty years after passing the Metric Act that Americans first feature a woman, Martha Washington, on United States currency on the $1 silver certificate in 1886:
Here is a beautiful unnamed allegorical woman representing Liberty appearing in 1891:
Americans issue the famous Educational Series Silver Certificate in 1896. Americans cover the entire obverse with artwork of allegorical figures representing History Instructing Youth in front of Washington District of Columbia on the $1 bill. Americans feature portraits of George and Martha Washington surrounded by an ornate design on the reverse. The Educational Series include the $2 and $5 bills as well:
Americans issue a new $5 silver certificate with a portrait of Running Antelope in 1899 deviating from the monotony of featuring only pale face:
Americans issue a $10 bill with Lewis and Clark, three women and a buffalo at the turn of the century:
Americans continue issuing unnamed allegorical women when 1914 rolls around as you can see on the $50 and $100 bill:
Look at the pose of those three women on the hundred-dollar bill. Do you think the scene seems strikingly similar on the BIPM seal?
BIPM Logo 7 cm
American women have only had the right to vote since 1920 thanks to the Nineteenth Amendment. It is fitting that we commemorate this Centennial by featuring a woman on the twenty-dollar bill by 2020.

The Obsolete Mile

What have the Romans ever done for us?! Well, they showed us by example that it is time to invent a larger unit when your daily affairs involve things vastly larger than your largest unit of measure.

Roman armies marching through Europe created mille passuum (a thousand paces) because they needed a long-distance unit to mete out their expanding empire. The Romans eventually attempt to standardize the Roman mile as a distance of 1,000 average paces or 5,000 Roman feet (probably about 1.482 km). At least the Romans had the sense to use a nice round number, unlike the odd number of feet and yards in a mile today. The Roman mile spread throughout the Roman Empire, but the subjugated locals often made modifications to fit their local measurement systems, resulting in many different lengths for a mile / league over the years. The following chart shows only a handful of the hundred or so definitions of a mile:


I think the following chart is a whole lot easier:


Since daily affairs were limited to measuring nothing larger than land distances, I suspect that people living in Roman times had no need of a unit of measure greater than a mile (or whatever unit people used in other parts of the world). But how are we expected to get a real sense of scale when someone gives astronomical distances in so and so many gazillion miles? Why would anyone pick such a relatively short unit like a mile when measuring something on such a vastly different scale? It would be akin to using inches to measure the distance from Milano to Minsk or using a fraction of a mile to measure the width of a human hair.

We can now measure things vastly smaller than an inch and vastly longer than a mile, so it is only natural that people create appropriate units for appropriate uses. The dekameter and hectometer and kilometer and megameter and gigameter and terameter (larger than a meter) and the decimeter and centimeter and millimeter and micrometer and nanometer and picometer (smaller than a meter) were all in use by 1951 and redefined in 1960 when the metric system became the International System. But the terameter is only useful for measuring outer planetary orbits and the picometer is only useful for measuring atoms. Science is ready for even larger and even smaller units.

Unit Prefixes

In 1964, the femtometer and attometer allow us to appropriately measure subatomic particles and quarks without having to use ridiculously small fractions of a much larger unit.

In 1975, the petameter and exameter allow us to appropriately measure interstellar distances and put a nebula into perspective without having to add a whole bunch of zeros to a much smaller unit.

In 1991, the zeptometer and yoctometer allow us to appropriately measure neutrinos and the zettameter and yottameter allow us to appropriately measure on a galactic and intergalactic scale.

SI Multiples and Fractions of meter

Most Earthlings have already come to realize that we must rid our lives of quaint measures that may have served us well in quaint times, but have become quite obsolete in modern times. Social evolution has brought nearly every nation on Earth to realize that having incompatible measurement systems is counter-productive. Just as the Romans created the mile unit equal to five thousand Roman feet, so too have people in modern times created the yottameter unit to mete out our universe. The observable universe is estimated to be about 880 Ym in diameter.

Join us on Facebook for discussions on ways to kill the inch: or work toward metric-only labeling in the United States: and visit for metric resources. USA – Metrication: One person at a time. Start with yourself right now!

Challenge the State

Challenge the State for not allowing you to render your height and weight in centimeters and kilograms on your state-issued driver license or identification card. Your chance of success is not as important as getting their attention.

“I am just one person, so I can’t make a difference!” Did you ever say that to yourself? People commonly resign themselves to such a pathetic state of mind in the face of seemingly insurmountable endeavors, but be encouraged by the fact that things start to change when others do the same thing over and over with increasing frequency. The squeaky wheel gets the grease as they say.

In 1927 CE several million people in the United States sent over 100,000 petitions urging Congress to adopt the Metric System.

In 2012 CE the White House received precisely 49,914 petition signatures to Make the [SI – the International System – formerly known as the] Metric system the standard in the United States, instead of the Imperial system.

White House Petition

The White House responds through Patrick D. Gallagher, who is Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology as well as Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): “Thanks for your petition. There’s a lot of history here. Right after the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson signed legislation that made . . . bla bla bla . . . ”

White House Response

Patrick ended his totally weak response by saying “So choose to live your life in metric if you want.”

So choose to live your life in metric if you want

Here it is! Here is our authority to take the White House up on that offer. Let us indeed live our lives in metric! The White House says we can, so let us just do it now! Let us take them at their word and rub it in their nose.

Challenge your state for the right to render your height and weight in centimeters and kilograms on your driver license. Be creative and challenge other government entities for not rendering units in the SI and just use this White House directive as the authority for your lawsuit.

You may want an example of this strategy actually working. Well after years of complaints, the United States Postal Service finally gave us a metric weight option:

US Post Office Metric

See! We can accomplish this when enough people like you put forth the effort. Let us know the details of your lawsuit on Facebook page Kill the Inch and Complete US Metrication. We would love to know about all of your pro-SI experiences on Facebook.

Paleolithic Style Cranberry Sauce

340 grams fresh cranberries
175 grams (175 mL) fresh orange juice
150 grams honey

Combine cranberries, orange juice, and honey in saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, until cranberries pop and sauce thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool completely and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.


Did pre-Agricultural Revolution humanoids eat Paleolithic Style Cranberry Sauce? Probably not! Did pre-Agricultural Revolution humanoids eat the ingredients found in Paleolithic Style Cranberry Sauce? Well, they were hunter / gatherers, so they ate all sorts of wild berries and fruits. Our ancient ancestors probably even ate some honey now and again when it was available.

Ever wonder why our Modern Era is plagued by a trend toward obesity? Some research shows that our post-Agricultural Revolution diet is the culprit. Eating more like our Paleolithic ancestors did the trick for me. My scale used to show well over 100 kilograms when I stepped on it, but soon after I eliminated grain, dairy and sugar from my diet, my scale shows only 88 kilograms. We can eat nearly like our Paleolithic ancestors ate in order to maintain a normal body mass index, but we no longer have to measure with our feet.

Did pre-Agricultural Revolution humanoids use grams and milliliters to measure their food ingredients? No, they were rather unsophisticated when it came to measurements, so they were probably so dumb that they used body parts as handy standards to measure things. Moderns of our species have come a long way since the days when a literal foot of flesh was as a standard of measurement. Well, at least some people have come a long way; others are not so advanced. Join our effort. Check it out. Kill the inch!

Do no be a Dunce

Valley site offers measurement resources

from Page 7 of The Valley Explorer Volume 4, Issue 3:

By David Pearl

We celebrate American independence every Fourth of July to commemorate our freedom from the oppressive British monarchy. Yet Americans still proudly use the inches, pounds and gallons that our oppressors graciously bestowed upon us; a Salem man whose mission is to bring our nation into the Modern Era finds this puzzling. Americans should be leading the way to measurement harmony in our increasingly globalized economy, but instead, Americans tend to forget the involvement of Benjamin Franklin working alongside Antoine Lavoisier during the French Revolution and that the Metric System was made legal in the USA in 1866, and that the inch-pound non-system has never been legalized here. David Pearl created Metric Pioneer with the hope that Americans would take advantage of the resources available to those who wish to self-metricate. Yes, we have been on training wheels for nearly a century and a half! Did you know that our Statue of Liberty occupies one hectare of land?

Do you remember that conversation between Vincent and Jules in the movie Pulp Fiction about what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France? David Pearl and his wife visited a Subway sandwich restaurant during a visit abroad last summer. The sandwich makers would have been clueless had they received an order for the Foot-long sandwich. You have probably guessed by now that both scenarios involve the Metric System. Subway restaurants all over the planet (except here of course) call it a 30 cm and you could probably guess what they call a half sandwich; yes, 15 cm.

Do you ever notice when you read a newspaper that measurements are sometimes given twice? American editors often parenthetically mention SI equivalents in order to maintain the appearance that America will some day adopt the Metric System. By the way, what Americans call the Metric System is now known as SI which is an abbreviation for Système International d’unités (International System of Units). Here is one example from an article about sulfide forming at Earth surface, sinking deep into Earth mantle, likely all the way to the core-mantle boundary, 1,865 miles (3,000 kilometers) below the surface. The snippet clearly reveals that the original writer estimated the distance at approximately 3,000 kilometers. It is a rounded guess. Nobody would estimate 1,865 miles! Some editor decided that Americans were too dumb to know what a kilometer is, so he got out a calculator and made believe that the random figure in miles would clarify matters. Dual measurement is a hallmark of American journalism. Students in United States public education do not learn to think and calculate exclusively in SI. Their minds are handicapped by early submersion in units of measurement outside the SI, and late, first exposure (if at all), to metric units of measurement.

Dual measuring is a false crutch that does not help people learn SI but just allows them to ignore it. Our Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) mandates that products sold in the United States must list SI alongside units that Americans have been using. The FPLA (as presently written) is a false crutch that has not done much for metric education in the 19 years it has been a requirement. Most Americans are still not ready for metric-only measurements. The Australians completed metrication in less time than it took us to waffle around with dual labeling.

America is actually part way metric already. For example, American scientists already use SI; NASA uses SI; our United States Dollar is already decimalized; American Nutrition Facts labels are already in grams (What else could we use? Nothing!); for decades, our Wine & Distilled Spirits have already been exclusively measured in metric units (750 mL is the most common size); our prescriptions are already measured in metric units (mg, mL et cetera) because no other measure is workable at that level; The United States military uses metric measurements extensively to ensure interoperability with allied forces, particularly NATO Standardization Agreements; ground forces measure distances in klicks, slang for kilometers; most military firearms are measured in metric units, beginning with the M-14 which was introduced in 1957; heavy weapon caliber is measured in millimeters; military vehicles are generally built to metric standards; the Navy and Air Force continue to measure distance in nautical miles and speed in knots because these units are now accepted for use with SI by the BIPM, so adopting SI would not be as painful as one might expect. We have been using metric tools for many years. You probably have metric tools in your garage right now!

Celsius is actually very easy! First put Fahrenheit out of mind for now (Pearl no longer uses the F word). Just remember this little weather rhyme: 30 is warm, 20 is nice, 10 is cold and 0 is ice. Yes, water freezes at zero and boils at one hundred! What could be easier? Normal human body temperature is 37.

Metric Pioneer David Pearl hopes that one day his driver license will list his height at 181 cm and his weight at 88 kg. As mentioned in the first paragraph, a Progress CheckList is available for a free download. You can also find (in the Metrication Earth tab) great graphics showing the flag of every nation on Earth, a rendering of the name of the nation in the actual local language and script (Chinese, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Swahili, Thai, and nearly every other language) along with the year each nation underwent metrication and the year each nation joined the United Nations organization. And for a load of fun, you can see a video clip of Riker telling his Star Trek crew that the Borg have captured Captain Jean-Luc Picard and are headed for the Terran System. Then finally you can take the online Terran System Exam. Here is the first question: 1. How would a police officer react to you driving 40 km/h (kilometers per hour) on a residential street? A. He would continue eating his donuts. B. He would issue you a citation for going way too slowly. C. He would think the high-speed chase is like a COPS episode. D. He would think your car is a disguised Alien Visitation Craft. You may take the exam over and over until you get 100%, which will qualify you to receive a free International System Ruler (one per household). Those interested may also register (for online social media) and sign the online Metrication Pledge to participate in the advancement of measurement harmony on planet Earth.

American Attitude

Exterior Dimensions: 61 cm wide x 32 cm tall x 31 cm deep.

How could any Earthling (even an American) possibly think the above words describe dimensions in inches? Well I experience that scenario all the time, because I sell stuff on Craigslist and I only use measurement units of the SI. I recount here a recent episode:

A potential buyer makes his initial inquiry Friday early afternoon while I am still at work. I give him my home address. He comes by to purchase our Craigslist item. He interacts with my wife. (I never meet the guy because I am still at work).

My wife Michele describes him as a reasonably intelligent Caucasian in his fifties. Upon seeing the item, he exclaims “That’s too small” then politely wishes her well and off he goes empty-handed. His fundamental misunderstanding of measurement results in another wasted trip in the United States of America.

Of course, this is not as bad as crashing a craft on Mars, but it is the same thing on a smaller scale. It happens in America every day with varying degrees of waste, ranging from minor things like this to even loss of life when parents give the wrong quantity of medication to their own children.

Such a scenario could only happen in measurement-challenged places on Earth, because the vast majority of humanity measures everything using the International System of units (SI).

I could not resist a follow up exchange of words with him so I could figure out what makes this guy tick. American attitude can truly be unimaginably narrow-minded when it comes to thinking outside the American box. Even though I tried, I failed to win him over to SI. Here is our text message exchange that at least brings a smile to his face:

19 Jul 2014 10:19 am
Metric Pioneer: I listed dimensions on Craigslist. So sorry item is too small.

20 Jul 2014 6:29 am
Craigslist Shopper: Sorry. I thought those were inches

20 Jul 2014 6:56 am
Metric Pioneer: 95% of people on Earth measure with centimeters. I clearly wrote cm after each number.

20 Jul 2014 6:58 am
Craigslist Shopper: Not in usa

20 Jul 2014 7:01 am
Metric Pioneer: American scientists and medical professionals and progressive Americans use the International System (SI) every day.

20 Jul 2014 7:05 am
Craigslist Shopper: American engineers and surveyors and architects dropped that crap long ago. Oh by the way they no longer teach it in schools anymore

20 Jul 2014 7:09 am
Metric Pioneer: Kill the inch!

20 Jul 2014 7:09 am
Craigslist Shopper: 🙂 [Smiley Face]

International Proficiency Testing Area

Image (Terran System Exam)

Image (Math Test)


(Language of Mathematics – American Competency Survey)

Image (SI Trivia Survey A)

Image (SI Trivia Survey B)

Subjugation and Freedom

Life relies on competition in its quest to survive and self-replicate. Members of a species compete both against other species and against their own members. Nations employ elaborate survival tactics, yet an objective conceptualization of this process escapes most of us. A genuine self-analysis requires delving deeper than our petty, shallow thoughts.

Some individuals are content living their lives under subjugation; others feel the need to break free from subjugation. The Arab Spring spreads throughout the Middle East resulting in civil war and deadly turmoil. Much of Eastern Europe had broken free from Soviet domination and joined the European Union. People in Ukraina engage in national protest to break chains of Russian subjugation. The United States broke free from Britain in a hard-fought War of Independence, yet Americans naively cling to Imperial measures inherited from their one-time enemy. Most Latin America nations gained independence from their colonial overlords, yet indigenous people still speak the European languages that were imposed upon them and adhere to religious dogma acquired through forced conversion centuries ago.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Union Jack was an attempt to incorporate several banners, yet Wales was left out of the Union Jack, which is a composite flag:



Britain had subjugated so much of the Earth that it would boast that the Sun never sets on British soil, but that empire is all but lost now, and to add insult to injury, there is even a referendum scheduled for September 2014 on whether Scotland should become an independent country once again and break its union with Britain. Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom since 1707, but before that, the Kingdom of Scotland had been a sovereign state for over 800 years.

The Union Jack would no longer accurately represent Britain if Scotland were to break away. I think Britain would do well to consider ridding itself of the Union Jack altogether and adopt a much simpler two-colour flag based on a Welsh scheme. Instead of a convoluted, superimposed combination of one saltire over another, harkening back to days of ritual and heraldry, perhaps Britain would do well to consider something similar to the flag of Ukraina or of Cascadia and adopt a simple flag representing Earth and Sky:


Some may argue that Britain has given the world much grief, but Britain has also given us the English language. Owing to the assimilation of words from many other languages throughout history, modern English contains a very large vocabulary. The Oxford English Dictionary lists more than 250,000 distinct words.

Thank la France for giving to the world the SI (the International System of Units) and the most beautiful language on Earth.


As one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Britain would do well to set a good example for other nations and consider abolishing its monarchy and state-sponsored religion.

Thanks, Britain, for giving us the English language, but please consider relegating your Imperial measures to the dust bin of History because we no longer need them.

Put your predicament into perspective, America. Wake up and realise that naively clinging to outdated Imperial measures only enslaves you to a globally competitive disadvantage. As one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, America should be a proactive example, not a measurement laughing stock. America should have been a measurement leader by persuading other nations to undergo metrication right after passing the Metric Act of 1866 instead of being dead last to slowly come around. Yes, America has the right to continue its struggle with miles and yards and ounces and gallons, but just because you can does not mean you should. Stubbornness for its own sake is not necessarily a good thing. Some people resist change, but sometimes change is a good thing. We add a star every time a state joins our Union:


America should join the world community of nations by completing its metrication efforts. Begin with yourself right now. Visit and begin to measure wisely and teach others to measure wisely.

Long Scale and Short Scale: How much is a billion? It depends where you live.

No person is a foreigner when you consider Earth your home. One might hope that all people on Earth probably have a lot in common with each other. We have divided ourselves up into two hundred or so nations, but we find ways to resolve our differences through our United Nations organization. We speak hundreds of different languages, but people rely on widely used languages such as English, French, Arabic, Spanish et cetera as common languages for international dialogue. Mathematics is clearly important to all people, so one might think that mathematics is surely universal common ground for all humanity, and for the most part it is, but when someone in Denmark for example uses the word billion, it means something very different in Hong Kong for example, because people around the world either use the Long Scale or the Short Scale or some other scale that is different from these two scales.

Seventy-four English-speaking nations and twenty-five Arabic-speaking nations are Short Scale users while twenty-seven other nations use a modified version of the Short Scale. Greece is in a category all its own.

Twenty Spanish-speaking nations and twenty-one French-speaking nations and eight Portuguese-speaking nations and five Dutch-speaking nations and twenty-eight other nations are Long Scale users.

If this is not confusing enough, Canada, Mauritius, Seychelles, Vanuatu, Namibia, South Africa and Puerto Rico use both scales. Eighteen countries have their own numbering systems and use neither short nor long scales.

How much is a billion? A billion could be one followed by nine zeros or it could be one followed by twelve zeros; it depends where you live.

How much is a trillion? A trillion could be one followed by twelve zeros or it could be one followed by eighteen zeros; it depends where you live.

How much is a quadrillion? A quadrillion could be one followed by fifteen zeros or it could be one followed by twenty-four zeros; it depends where you live.

Surely there must be a way of measuring that avoids the use of the words billion, trillion, quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion, septillion, octillion, nonillion, decillion, undecillion, duodecillion, tredecillion et cetera all the way up to centillion because we invite the potential for misunderstanding when we use these words that have different meanings in different places on Earth.

A mile is the longest imperial unit and an inch is the shortest imperial unit, so a billion miles or a billionth of an inch is clearly a problematic way to measure anything in an international context. I think it is a mistake to limit our usage of SI units to this tiny range. That is, I think it is a mistake for people to refuse to take advantage of SI units larger than a kilometer and smaller than a centimeter; clearly, those people have enslaved themselves into thinking in scientifically outdated imperial units.

The beauty of the International System of units or SI after its French initials is that one has the option to dispense with ever having to use any word for any number higher than thousand on the scale, which thankfully has only one definition everywhere on Earth.

Using the SI, one can measure everything from the width of a tiny neutrino at 1 ym (one yoctometer) to the diameter of the observable universe at 880 Ym (eight hundred eighty yottameters) without ever using words for numbers that have different values in different places on Earth.

Here are some other examples: Our galaxy is about one zettameter in diameter. The Rosetta Nebula is about 1.2 Em (one point two exameters) in diameter or 1 200 Pm (one thousand two hundred petameters). The average orbital distance of Saturn is about 1.4 Tm (one point four terameters). The average orbital distance of Earth is about 150 Gm (one hundred fifty gigameters). Earth circumference is about 40 Mm (forty megameters). The author of this blog is 181 cm tall (one hundred eighty-one centimeters).

Measuring is the path to knowledge and understanding, so pick the appropriate unit for what you measure. Let us blow the dust off those rarely used SI units and measure wisely so that any Earthling can understand us no matter where we live.

Do you really want to get involved? You can register as a member at to interact with others who are enthusiastic about American metrication.

You can also take the Terran System Exam at

Complete the Language of Mathematics – American Competency Survey:

Finally, you can challenge yourself with this Math Test: