Measurement Systems

Measurement Systems - Brief History of UNITED SThTES...

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Unformatted text preview: Brief History of UNITED SThTES DEPARTMENT UF COMMERCE I_.~-“""‘-+" FREDERICK e. DENT. Secretary e *-. HthflHfiL BUREAU 0f STAMMIDE .t FtlEilth‘D 1". ROBERTS. Dirnelo't l --" Spec-tr lluultonlitnn 3|.‘h'l A. rials-guard Sonic-mum. 1'31“ MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS with a Chart of the Modernized Metric System "Weights and measures may he ranked art-tong the necessaries of life to every individual of human society. They enter into the em nominal arrangements and daily concerns of every family. They are necessary to every occupation of human industry: to the disrrittu— tion and security of every species of property: to every transaction of trade and commerce; to the labors of the husbondman; to the in- genuity of the artificet.’ to the studies of the philos-Opher; to the researches of the antiquarian, to the navigation of the mariner. and the marches of the soldier; to sit the exchanges of peace. and oil the operations of war. The hmtwiea'ge of them, as in established use. is among the first elements of education. and is oiten learned by those who learn nothing else. not even to react and write. This knowledge is riveted in. the memory by the habitual application of it to the em- p-ioyrrterrts of men throughout His." Weights and measures were nrnn-ng the earliest tools invented by man. Primitive societies needed rudimentary measures for many tasks: constructing dwellings of no appropriate sine and fil'lfll'ic. fashioning clothing, or bartering flood or raw materials. Man understandsth turned first to pEI-TLH Of his body and his natural sur— roundings for measuring instruments. Early Babylonian and Egyptian records and the Bible indicate that length was first mossdrcd with the forearms. hand. or finger and that time was measured by the periods or the sun, moon. and other heavenly bodies. When it was necessary to compare Ihu capacities of containers such as gourds or clay or metal vessels, they were tilled will! pInrtt seeds which won: then counth to measure the vol. unset. When means [or weighing were invented. seeds and stones served as standards. For instance. the "caret." still used as a unit for gems. was derived from the carob seed. As societies evolved. weights and measures became more complex. The invention of numbering systems and the science or mathematics made it possible it:- Clealc whole systems of weights and measures suited to trade and commerce, land division. taxation. or scientific rc- starch. For these more sophisticated uses it was necessary not only to weigh .ronu omnc‘t annua- Report to the Congress. 1821 and nice—sure more compiles Lilitign—iL was also necessary to do it accurately time after time and in different pieces. However, with limited international eit- citation of goods and communication of ideas. it is not surprising that different systems for the same purpose developed and became established in different parts of the world—even in different parts of a single continent. "file English 555921“ The measurement system commonly used in the United States today is nearly the same as that brought by the colo- nists from England. These measures had their origins in a variety of cultures— Babylonian. Egyptian, Roman. Anglo— Saxon. and Norman French. The art- cient "digit." "Palm," "span." and “cubit” units evolved into the "inch." “foot.” and "yard" through a compli- cated transfers-notice. not yet fully un- derstood. Roman contributions include the use of the number i: as a base toot foot is divided into 12 inches} and words from which we derive many of our present weights and measures names. For exam- ple. the 12 divisions of the Roman "pot." or foot. were called ant'iae. Clint words "inch" and "ounce" are both de— t'i'l'nd from that Latin word. Tile "yard" as a. masters of length can be traced back to the early Saxon kings. They wore a stash or girdle around the waist—that could be re- moved and used as a convenient measur- ing device. Thus the word "yard" comes from the Saxon word "gird" meaning the circumference of s person's waist. Standardization of the various units and their combinations into s loosely related system of weights and measures sometimes occurred in Fascinating ways. Tradition holds that tong Henry I de— creed that the yard should be the dis- tance from the tip of his nose to the. end of his thurnh. The length of a fur- limit it}? furrow—long; was established by early Tudor rulers as 21h yards. This led Queen Elizabeth I to declare. in the 16111 century. that henceforth the tradi— tional Roman mile of 5.000 feel would he ropinccti by one of 5,280 feet. mak- ing the mile exactly it furlongs and pro— Filling a convenient relationship between two previously ill-related measures. Titus. through royei edicts. England by the llith century had sci-listed a greater degree of standardization than the continental countries. The English units were well suited to commerce and trade because they had been developed and refined to meet commercial needs. Through colonization and dominance of world comm-crce during the i‘i‘th. ted-t. In" ult- hy til- finpemnIm-len-l of lill'it'uluf'n1I-t‘ L.5. ii-nwrnm-nt Fri-tin, um“. Hula-AMI, |:>_r:I sot-n: 5H“ fill. IJILIIE {JIJTJ and 19th centuries. the English system of weights and measures was spread to and established in many parts of the world. including the American colonies. lion-e yer. standards still differed to an extent tindcsirahle for commerce among the [It colonies. The need for greater uniformity led to clauses in the Articlcs of Confederation (ratified by the origi- nal colonies in ITFtl]: and the Constitu- tion of the United States {ratified in 1T90} giving power to the Congress to the uniform standards for weights and measures. Today. standards supplied to all 1hr: States by the National Bureau of Standards assure uniformity throughout the country. '=ltt- l-lt-tt-tt- Hit-it'll: The need for a single worldwide coor- dinalcd measurement system was recog- itiaetl over 3m] years ago. I:ial'rriel Motl- lt'tu, Vicar of St. Paul in Lyons, proposed in 16'“) a comprehensive decimal meas- urement system based on the length of one minute of are of a great circle of the earth. In lfi-il Jean Picard. a French astronomer. proposed the length of a pendulum beating seconds as the unit of length. {Such a pendulum would have been fairly easily reproducible, thus facilitating the widespread distribu— tion of uniform standards.) Other pro- pufiais were math;I but over a century elapse-t] before any action wast taken. In 1'7-‘90, in the midst of the French Revolution, the National Assembly of France requested the French Academy of Sciences to "deduce an invariable standard for all the measures and all the weights.” The Commission appointed by the Academy created a system that was. at: once: simple and scientific. The unit nl length was to be a portion of the earth‘s circumference. MeasUres for ca- pacity {Volume} and mass (weight) were to be derived from the unit of length. thus relating the basic units of the system to each other and to nature. Furthermore. the larger and smaller versions of each unit were to he created by multiplying or dividing the basic units by Hi and its multiples. This fea- ture provided a great convenience to users of the system. by eliminating the need for such calculations as dividing by 16 [to convert ounces to pounds] 01' by 11 [to convert inches to feet}. Simi- lar calculations in the metric system could he perfoer simply by shifting the decimal point. Thus the metric sys- tem is n "base-1t)" or “decimal” system. The. Commission assigned the name metre {which we also spell meter] to the unit of length. This name was de- rived from the Greek word matron. meaning “a measure.“ The physical stuntlartl representing the meter was to he constructed so that it would equal one ten-millionth of the distance from the north pole to the equator along the meridian of the earth running near Dune kirk in France and Barcelona in Spain. The metric unit of mass. called the "gram." was defined as the mass of one cubic centimeter ta cube that is lflfltl of a meter on each side} of water at its temperature of maximum density. The cubic decimeter [a cube li'lfl of a meter on each side} was chosen as the. unit of Fluid capacity. This measure was given due name “liter.” I Aid-tough the metric system was not accepted with enthusiasm at first. adop- tion by other nations occurred steadily after France made its use compulsory in 1340. The standardized character and decimal features of the metric system made it well suited to scientific and em gincering work. Consequently. It is not surprising that the rapid spread of the system coincided with an age of rapid technological development. In the United States. by Act of Congress in 1366. it was made “lawful lhrtlughflul the United States of America to employ the weights and measqu of the IneLriI-I system in all contracts. dealings or court proceedings.“ By the late llitifl’s. even better metric standards were needed to keep pace with scientific advances. In lil'i' 5. an in- ternational [Toasty-'1 the "T1331? of the Meter," set up well-defined metric stand- ards for length and mass, and estab- lished permanent machinery to recom- mend and adopt further refinements in the metric system. This treaty. known as the Metric Convention, was signed by I? eountriI including the United States. As a result of the Treaty, metric standards were constructed out! distrih- uted to each nation that ratified the Convention. Since IRS}, the interna- tionally agreedato metric standards have served as the fundamental weights and measures stand ards of the United States. By 190i} a total of 35 nations—in- cluding the major natious of continental Europe and most of South America— tmd ofllcially accepted the metric sys- tem. Today, with the exception of the United States and a few small countries, the entire world is using predominantly the metric ~ysterr1 or is committed to such use. In ISTI the Secretary of Com- merce. in transmitting to Congress the results of a 3-year study authorized by the Metric Study Act of 1963. recom- mended that the Us. change to pre- dontinant use of the metric system through it coordinated national pro- gram. The Congress is now considering this recommendation. The International Human of Weights and Measures located at Sevres. France. serves as a permanent secretariat for the Metric I'.L"onyention1 coordinating the eit- cbang: of information about the use and refinement of the metric system. As measurement science dayelops more pre- cise and easily reproducible ways of de- fining the measurement units. the Gen- eral Conteret'ice of 1'i'r’eights and Meas- ures—the diplomatic organization made up of adherents to the Convention— meets periodically to ratify improve. ments in the system and the standards. in lilo-ti. the llilieneral Conference adopted an extensive revision and sim- plification of the system. The name Le Sysaime international ri'UnItEs {lnter— national System of Llnitsl. with the tn- lernalional abbreviation SI. was adoptecl for this modernized metric system. Ft! r- thcr improvements in and additions to S] were made by the General Confer- ence in 196-4. 1963. and 19?1. ...
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This note was uploaded on 07/25/2008 for the course ME 457 taught by Professor Rosenberg during the Spring '07 term at Michigan State University.

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Measurement Systems - Brief History of UNITED SThTES...

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