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  • America.

  • Land of the free, home of one of the world's top five systems of units.

  • Sixteen fluid ounces make a cup, four cups make a pint, three pints make a quart, and

  • two quarts make a gallon.

  • It just make sense!

  • Right?

  • Likely not since none of that was true but you believed it, maybe.

  • The US, with an asterisk, uses that imperial system or rather an extra special variation

  • of it for extra special Americans.

  • The rest of the world, save Myanmar and Liberia, use the International System of Units but

  • if you take out yourExtra Special American Dictionaryyou'll see thatinternational

  • meansbasically China, which is communist,” and we wouldn't want to be using communist

  • units would we?

  • Oh here's that asterisk.

  • The US uses customary units everywhere except for here, on one road in Arizona.

  • We'll get back to that.

  • During decolonization, all the former British Empire countries were really excited to not

  • be British and as part of that they were really excited to ditch the British Imperial System

  • of units.

  • That included the US which was also super excited to adopt one system of units since

  • just after independence it used a variety of units such as Dutch ones in New York or

  • Imperial ones in New England and if that time when NASA lost an $125 million orbiter due

  • to a conversion error or that time when a plane ran out of fuel over the Atlantic due

  • to a conversion error or that time when Columbus landed in the Bahamas instead of Asia and

  • accidentally discovered the New World due a conversion error, having to convert units

  • is bad.

  • Wait was that last one a bad thing?

  • Depends who you ask I guess.

  • So, to simplify things, a politician's secretary named Thomas sent a letter to France to ask

  • them to send a kilogram.

  • You see, this is super self explanatory, but if you wanted to adopt the metric system you

  • needed to, like, know how much a kilogram was.

  • Thomas Jefferson, who was the Secretary of State, I guess that detail is important, was

  • going to upon delivery decide if he liked how the kilogram felt, I guess?

  • Unfortunately the shipping service wasn't very good.

  • France sent this guy, scientist Joseph Dombey, on a ship but then the ship got blown south,

  • to the Caribbean, where there were pirates who took him and his kilogram, and killed

  • him.

  • You know, I'm really starting to think that pirates are troublemakers.

  • Oh, so, what's a pirates favorite unit?

  • A kilomtaaaarrr since the base 10 system allows for easier conversion.

  • So, since Thomas didn't have a kilogram he couldn't switch the country over since

  • he didn't know how much a kilogram was and to this day, not a single American knows what

  • a kilogram is.

  • In reality he probably could've asked for another one but Britain was at least, 50 kilometers

  • away.

  • Shipping times were slow.

  • Better to just use imperial units.

  • Ok, so industrial revolution, civil war, World War One, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, 200

  • years later and bam, the United States is still using imperial units.

  • But the US really tried to switch.

  • They passed a law in 1975 that pretty much said, “hey, you can switch if you want.”

  • This push for conversion was met with intense opposition especially from Republican Charles

  • Grassley who said, “forcing the American people to convert to the metric system goes

  • against our democratic principles.”

  • I also believe that forcing the American people not to murder goes against our democratic

  • principles.

  • Nonetheless, America started to switch, at least here, in Arizona on Interstate 19 between

  • Tucson and the Mexican border whose signs were fully switched to metric as an experiment.

  • People truly believed that the country was going to switch to metric because the government

  • told them so and would the government ever lie?

  • Now, plenty of signs in the US use both miles and kilometers, but I-19 is the only highway

  • in the country to use exclusively metric units.

  • They've thought about changing it since the great metric revolution never came, but

  • all the exits are numbered off how many kilometers they are from the border so then they'd

  • have to all change and then businesses would have to change which exit they say to get

  • off on in their ads.

  • It's just complicated.

  • Nonetheless, Arizona law now says that from now on if and when the signs get replaced

  • they have to be in miles to much opposition by local residents who say it will be too

  • difficult to convert to imperial.

  • Ok sohmm there's nothing left on the script.

  • Wait that's it?

  • You make a five minute video and the cumulation is that there's a road with signs using

  • metric?

  • Who's the writer here?

  • This is such a stupid show.

  • I quit.

  • Your show is stupid, your jokes are stupid, this is all stupid.

  • Ok I've calmed down a bit, had some tea, and remembered that I'm the writer.

  • Exceptoh boythis tea is lacedwith amphetamines.

  • That's not good.

  • You see, there's about 630 nanogram of amphetamines per liter of water according to scientists.

  • So, two questions: what are nanograms and how much drug is there in my tea.

  • If only there was a website that could answwait, what's that?

  • brilliant.org can?

  • Oh how handy they have a quiz that teaches you how to calculate how many nanograms of

  • amphetamines there are in your tea.

  • You see, they teach by breaking concepts down to their intuitive principles so you can build

  • up to the answer.

  • This way you don't memorize how to do something, you understand it.

  • To take your learning to the next level and trust your tea again, go to brilliant.org/HAI

  • to sign up for free and try Brilliant out and then the first 424 people to use that

  • link will also get 20% off their annual premium subscription.

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B1 US kilogram metric imperial conversion brilliant system

Why One Road in the US Uses Metric (Because of Pirates)

  • 15 1
    Samuel posted on 2018/05/11
Video vocabulary