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Sat Dec 14, 2019, 12:16 PM

US finally giving boot to official foot measurement

WASHINGTON (AP) ó Change is afoot for the official measuring stick used to size up big places in America.

The reason? There are actually two different definitions of the 12-inch measurement known as a foot.

Some land surveyors use whatís known as the U.S. survey foot. Others use the definition thatís more accepted by the broader world: the international foot.

The difference between them is so tiny that you canít see it with the naked eye on a 12-inch ruler. But over big distances, it matters. So, to reduce the chance for errors and confusion, the federal government has announced itís finally giving the boot to the survey foot.

The international foot is the smaller one ó adding about an eighth of an inch of difference when measuring a mile. That means the United States is 28.3 feet wider when measured using the international foot instead of the survey foot.

Read more: https://dentonrc.com/ap/washington/us-finally-giving-boot-to-official-foot-measurement/article_ef042383-22d8-5e48-9cd1-a8b8b16793f4.html
(Denton Record-Chronicle)

13 replies, 1110 views

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply US finally giving boot to official foot measurement (Original post)
TexasTowelie Dec 2019 OP
juxtaposed Dec 2019 #1
Dave in VA Dec 2019 #2
eppur_se_muova Dec 2019 #6
Stargazer09 Dec 2019 #3
defacto7 Dec 2019 #4
NNadir Dec 2019 #7
Stargazer09 Dec 2019 #8
TexasTowelie Dec 2019 #10
NNadir Dec 2019 #11
TexasTowelie Dec 2019 #12
NNadir Dec 2019 #13
aka-chmeee Dec 2019 #5
muriel_volestrangler Dec 2019 #9

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 12:23 PM

1. So 5280 gone

 

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Response to juxtaposed (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 12:43 PM

2. Good question!

n/t

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Response to juxtaposed (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 02:28 PM

6. Now 5280.01... meh. nt

BTW, 5280 = 11 x 480

That comes about because a traditional surveyor's chain was 66' long. So 80 chains make a mile. 10 chains make a furlong, or 220 yd, or 1/8th of a mile.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 12:47 PM

3. I have a better idea

Start switching to the metric system.

The U.S. needs to catch up with the rest of the world.

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Response to Stargazer09 (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 12:51 PM

4. This

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Response to Stargazer09 (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 07:50 PM

7. Science in the US is done to my knowledge, exclusively in the metric system.

I can't remember the last time I saw an instrument capable of measuring ounces, pounds, inches or feet.


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Response to NNadir (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 05:10 AM

8. Science is leading the way

The metric system is inherently easy to understand. No need to memorize how many inches in a foot or feet in a mile.

I currently live overseas, where itís much more common, and frankly, I like it. I still need help to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit, but Iíve gotten good at converting kilometers to miles (mostly because I drive an American car with kph markings that are hard to see).

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Response to NNadir (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 09:00 AM

10. You need to get out of the lab and enjoy life more.

But you're right, everything that I did in the lab dating back to the 80s required me to measure in the metric system.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #10)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 05:05 PM

11. What if I enjoy the lab?

I get paid for some of my scientific work and knowledge, but easily, by far, I know more about the sciences I love, than the ones at which I am paid to work, are those that have nothing to do with my job.

My paid work is only peripherally, at best, connected with environmental science and even more distant is any connection with nuclear science, other than allowing me to explain to people why mass spec is superior to radioactive labeling in metabolomics, proteomics, and nucleomics.

Much of the best science is done and has been done for love and not for pay. Albert Einstein did not produce his work on special relativity, the photoelectric effect, and Brownian motion to earn a paycheck. During the famous annus mirabilis he earned his paycheck as a patent examiner, and not as a physicist.

I would say that less than 20% of the scientific reading I do is connected with my job. It happens that stuff I learn ends up, usually as a surprise, ends of being relevant - just recently obscure stuff I learned about the physics of particles in fluids turned out to be useful for something involving work - but if I had no job, and if I were homeless, or if I was independently wealthy, I would still be involved in science.

Science is the richest life I can imagine, shy of marriage and parenthood.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #11)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 07:49 PM

12. My time in the lab deserves a mixed review.

I certainly enjoyed being the lab assistant to the incoming class of first year students when they took general chemistry and the one summer session when I was the lab assistant for "baby chem" even though it was at the god-awful 8 a.m. time. I was also the only student that was successful in making a certain polymer, It turns out that the reagents involved in the experiment reacted differently in high humidity conditions--when an unopened canister of that chemical was used then there was success! Please pardon the non-technical jargon since it was over 30 years ago.

My experience as a student in the lab was a bit different. My first semester in general chemistry involved quantitative analysis. The lab was crowded with the pre-meds who would eventually wash out and change majors. Most of my lab experiments would be considered as a "B" grade, but my classroom grades pulled me up to an "A" for the class. The irony was that when I took chemistry in high school I made a "B" and that professor had a reputation throughout the state for washing out the pre-med majors. He reminded most of the students as the Tom Baker version of Dr. Who.

When I was in organic chemistry, my lab partner only showed up for 2 of the 12 lab sessions, so that meant long times in the lab and it would have helped to have an extra set of hands to set up the lab apparatus. I'm still friends with the missing lab partner and his absences gave me a small advantage in the second semester when we worked alone.

The class that killed me in the lab was adsorption spectroscopy--having to learn how to use the nmr and gaining more experience on infrared spec and the gas chromatography was difficult. To top it off, I took the wrong unknown chemical for the field trip to the University of Texas for mass spec. because the trip was relatively early in the semester--I was still in the process of purifying the unknowns when the field trip occurred. At the end of the semester I had to use the melting point to choose between nonadecane and icosane--having the molecular weight would have helped make my determination.

By the way, I finally thought of one possibility where a chemist might use an English system measurement: anything that might involve taking pressure readings and I believe that PSI is still the normal measurement units. Please correct me when I'm wrong though.

I'm glad that you find your time in the lab so fulfilling. My experiences were mixed and I was also having vision problems--my prescription changed about 2 diopters within a six month period during junior year and I was probably pre-diabetic in hindsight. I also inherited a slight tremor that affected my abilities in the lab. I occasionally see both my general chemistry and organic chemistry professors at various campus events. They both remember me and in some ways, I feel like I may have disappointed them since my career only peripherally touched upon the sciences. However, I don't have any regrets taking the chemistry and physics classes. If nothing else, I learned how to write procedures and use the scientific methods in my career.

My only regret is that they didn't offer software engineering as a major when I was in college because I would likely be filthy rich at this point in my life. My closest friend has three sons who graduated from UT with software engineering degrees and all of them are starting their careers earning more than either of us achieved at the peak of our careers (yes, there is some envy).

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #12)

Mon Dec 16, 2019, 12:17 AM

13. Good catch. PSI is still around in American labs, probably because...

...the regulator companies serve welders, soda shops, balloon shops and the like. However the minute one needs to a calculation, they go away.

I'm so old that I learned the ideal gas law value for R in high school with the bizarre unit (liter-atmosphere per mole-degree) which doesn't compare in descriptive terms to J/K-mol, which immediately evokes the concept of energy.

I didn't use J/K-mol until I began to do research and had to do hydrogenations. To find how close I was to theoretic uptake, and thus perhaps to cut off extra time, I used my first cubic gas law, the simplistic but more evocative Van de Waals equation. It was such a simple cubic that one could actually program it on a HP-41C calculator with reasonable simplicity, and in organic chemistry, which is rarely quantitative except maybe where it needs to be, as in peptide chemistry (and even there people use excess reagents), it was "good enough." The "PSI" was just an annoyance that quickly went to Pascals.

I have more recently, in my private work, become interested in the higher cubics, mostly the Peng-Robinson and to a lesser extent SRK equations of state.

Recently, in the last year, I've become aware of very sophisticated equations, like Span-Wagner EOS for carbon dioxide, about which I believe I wrote a post in this space.

I have here, in preparation, with the usual desultory ruminations, a riff on dielectric permettivity of gases that refers to a system of equations known as "GERG-2008" which is applied to very precise engineering demands of the dangerous natural gas industry, an industry I oppose. Maybe I'll eventually get around to finishing it and posting it. I write these posts to teach myself things, and occasionally they are of interest to other people.

Interestingly, one of the authors of the paper I'm covering in that post is Roland Span of Span-Wagner, and the GERG-2008 paper, successor to GERG-2004, is Wagner of Span-Wagner. In the GERG 2008 paper Wagner doesn't refer to his and Span's Equation of State for carbon dioxide, but rather to one by Klimeck, the Ph.D. thesis of one of his students. I haven't been able to track the thesis down; and apparently it's in German, and it always makes me very, very, very tired to read in German, and I do have a day job.

In any case, I'm a programming dinosaur, and my kids just laugh at me.

Even though I oppose dangerous natural gas, the GERG-2008 system is of interest, because some of these forms may have important consequences for the behavior of syn gases, which are, increasingly, in my view, a key to saving the world.

I lived by NMR when I was a kid, but now, while NMR still has a place in the world, there is nothing like modern mass spec for seeing into the deeper soul of chemistry. It has recently entered into the world of conformational dynamics on a truly molecular scale, something that frankly blows my mind and makes me feel very, very, very old.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sat Dec 14, 2019, 01:39 PM

5. Metrics? meh

I fart in France's general direction.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 08:52 AM

9. I thought the change to 0.3048 m as the definition had already happened everywhere

I didn't know bits of the USA hadn't caught up to that (after all, it's only been around since 1933, and it's only been the federal definition since 1959. You can't hurry these things ...)

And I didn't know the previous definition was also based on the metre, but as that oh-so-convenient fraction 1200/3937. I mean, it's not as if 3937 is an obscure prime number. No, it has those very common factors of 31 and 127. It's almost as if a binary freak was put in charge of defining the foot - "we'll say it's 10010110000 / (11111 * 1111111)".

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