There is a problem facing society, but no one is willing to talk about it. Virtually every journalist, television reporter, and blogger has personally encountered this problem, and yet â€“ silence.
The problem is the metric system. Not just the metric system, but the US customary units as well. Basically, in order to be useful, a measurement system must:
- Have well-defined units that everyone agrees on.
Give people the ability to measure things and understand quantities.
Neither system really meets both of these criteria. The metric system, although it meets the first point, fails miserably on the second. The US system fails the first point semantically, and does a really poor job on the second point.
Allow me to illustrate:
Scenario 1: The news has just reported that a 4,081,440 - foot wide asteroid is heading toward the Earth.
Scenario 2: You just heard on the radio that a 695,622 kmÂ² area of the ocean has become an oxygen-free dead zone.
Now, think quickly â€“ how do you react to this news? Do you panic? Do you relax, secure in the knowledge that the asteroid will burn up in the atmosphere and the dead zone will clear up in the spring?
Nobody knows! What the hell is a kilometer? How I measure something be that many feet wide, when I only have two feet, and neither one is a foot long anyway?
Now imagine if we had a new system in place:
Scenario 3: The news has just reported that an asteroid the size of Texas is heading toward the Earth, and you just heard on the radio that a area of the ocean the size of Texas has become an oxygen-free dead zone.
We need to standardize on a new set of units that actually reflect what is in use today. I am not the inventor of this system, but I would like to codify it and propose a name: the Journalistic System.
The Journalistic System is actually in use todayâ€”just open up a newspaper or turn on CNN. Below are some common units. Later, I will post my completely empirical and scientific method for determining and naming units, and some conversion tables.
- Football Fields. â€œThe new convention center covers 3 football fields of space.â€?
Manhattans. â€œA remote island twice the size of Manhattan.â€?
Rhode Islands. â€œThe wildfire covers an area the size of Rhode Island.â€?
Texases - â€œAn asteroid the size of Texas.â€? (note: in this case, we are talking about the cross section)
Grains of Sand. â€œThe transistor is thousands of times smaller than a grain of sand.â€?
Olympic Swimming Pools. â€œEach day Americans eat enough barley to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools.â€?
Earths that Could Fit Inside. â€œJupiter's Great Red Spot is so large that 3 Earths could fit inside.â€?
Data and Information
Number of Songs. â€œThis portable hard drive can hold 20,000 songs.â€?
Libraries of Congress. â€œThe database for this particle accelerator holds as much data as the Library of Congress.â€?
Food Energy (calories) and/or Fat Content
Currently undecided. Multiple units exist - size of a baseball, size of a tennis ball, football, bowling ball, peach, orange, grape, etc.
Starving Children Meals. â€œWhat you spend on a cup of coffee could feed a starving child.â€?
Cups of Coffee. â€œWhat you spend on a cup of coffee could feed a starving child.â€?
Inner-city School Teachers. â€œThe cost of the war is enough money to hire 2000 teachers for our inner-city schools.â€?