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 Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 03 Oct 2014, 11:43

So Caro's latest grandson and his father weighed into this world in Imperial style. Congrats to Caro on all counts. Though metric in UK since the early 70's, I think, we here still use a mish mash of measures. My daughter - an MSc - uses feet and inches in everyday situations tho never taught them - and asked me to convert table cloth dimensions to Imperial when we discussed such prosaic junk last week. Is this general? Didn't Cameron mutter something about it recently?  And is it thus worldwide? The mish-mash measure, I mean.
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Nielsen
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 03 Oct 2014, 13:59

Here, where the laws have made us metric for at least a 100 years, we elderly people still use pounds at least when talking of potatoes and coffee, and perhaps other things as well - though not the Imperial pound  - the old Scandinavian standard.

Equally it gives me some pleasure when shopping, to talk of buying things in dozens and scores.

Perhaps signs of advancing senility ...
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 03 Oct 2014, 14:08

I still think in terms of pints............

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 03 Oct 2014, 14:13

Who was the Banana Martyr - the greengrocer who said he'd go to jail rather than be forced to sell bananas by the kilo? He won:

Last September (2007), Gunther Verheugen, the EU trade commissioner, said Brussels had abandoned its policy of forcing Britain to go metric. He said: "Pounds and ounces are in no way under threat from Brussels and never will be.''

I still weigh myself in stones and pounds - kilograms make me feel fat.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 03 Oct 2014, 14:27

As with so many things it all seems to depend on how and where measures are being used.

Virtually all scientific work is done in SI units but when it comes to industrial applications a lot depends on who the customer is. I've worked in the precious metals business and bullion is still in part weighed in troy ounces, while manufactured items can be a right mish-mash. An aerospace customer would usually have everything specified in metric but a jewellery customer might well order a certain weight (in troy onces) of, say tube, with an outside diameter in millimetres and a wall thickness in thou (thousands of an inch) and all to be in metre long cut lengths.... and actually sold in £/gramme!

Many years ago I had some dealings with the oil industry and there, due to the dominance of the USA, even now a lot is still in Imperial, or rather American, measures. Well depths are typically stated in feet, borehole casing pipe is in inches, oil/gas pressures are in lbs/sq inch, and volumes of oil are internationally traded in barrels. Which all makes for plenty of fun when the steel is supplied to a European standard which measures pressure and stress in Newtons per sq metre. Didn't NASA lose one of its Mars probes through a mix up between metres and yards?

On a more domestic level even in France old non-metric units still regularly pop up. Livres (pounds, usually taken to mean half a kg) and pouces (un pouce is literally a thumb but also means an inch) appear in things like recipes and DIY etc. And cut firewood for heating is still universally sold by the stère rather than by weight (the stère is a cubic metre of stacked firewood and was actually one of the original measures decreed by the revolutionary government).
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 03 Oct 2014, 16:28

Your comments, Nielsen, about still using dozens and scores made me think of a couple of things:

France, often associated with the establishment of the metric system, still routinely uses scores and even possibly a hangover from a Babylonian base 60 system, in its numbers:
soixante, sixty (60); soixante-dix, sixty-and ten (70); quatre-vingt, four-score (80); quatre-vingt-dix, four-score-and ten (90).

This all makes for very interesting bingo nights (and yes I do occasionally let my hair down and mix with the peasants at the village Christmas charity bingo night), especially as the local caller speaks very slow ... and so is constantly interrupted by premature calls of "maison!". So for example 'two fat ladies, 88, would be announced as "quatre... vingt .... huit !" ie  four (4) .... twenty (but with the 4 that's 80) ... eight (and with the four twenties thats 88) Bingo!

I think that the French way of doing numbers is why French people always read out a string of numbers, say a telephone number, in couplets. So if you ask a French person to read out 3345997180 they'll generally say: "trente-trois, quarante-cinq, quatre-vingt-dix-neuf, soixante-onze, quatre-vingt" ie 33, 45, 99, 71, 80.

By contrast an English speaker would probably group in threes but saying: "three-three-four, five-nine-nine, .... "etc.  Interestingly I have noticed that increasingly in Walloon and Luxembourgeois French the numbers 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 are said: "cinquante, soixante, septante, octante, nonante" (which appears more logical to me but I don't think the Académie Française like it).

The other thing is that the last time I bought some bunches of red roses in France, they were still sold in dozens (douzaines) rather than tens (dixaines) so romance hasn't yet gone metric.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 03 Oct 2014, 18:11

Yes, the Belgians have at least for the last half century to my own personal knowledge, refused to have any truck with the French numerical melange.

The funniest one I recall was an American, who hired the same sort of car that he habitually drove in the US, and was convinced someone was fiddling him when the tank wouldn't hold as many gallons as his own did.

I do recall metricating the weight of steel castings from tons to tonnes (the cost / ton of some additives exceeded the available field size on file, so as a "quick and dirty" fix we went metric).

Do the Belgians still buy things like butter a "quart" at a time? They used to use that (1/4 kilo) and "demi-livre" pretty much indiscriminately 50 or so years ago.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 03 Oct 2014, 21:42

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Yes, the Belgians have at least for the last half century to my own personal knowledge, refused to have any truck with the French numerical melange.

The funniest one I recall was an American, who hired the same sort of car that he habitually drove in the US, and was convinced someone was fiddling him when the tank wouldn't hold as many gallons as his own did.

I do recall metricating the weight of steel castings from tons to tonnes (the cost / ton of some additives exceeded the available field size on file, so as a "quick and dirty" fix we went metric).

Do the Belgians still buy things like butter a "quart" at a time? They used to use that (1/4 kilo) and "demi-livre" pretty much indiscriminately 50 or so years ago.

Gil,

I have still to use "septante" in Belgium and "soixante-dix" in France.

I worked in an to American converted plant/factory...in the paint department...had my whole working life to deal with American standards and European ones as the American ASTM, the French AFNOR and the German DIN...
Take now the barrels, which we called drums...the paint was delivered in 200 liter drums, but the American sister plant spoke of 42 US gallon 158,99 liter drums...and we had a plant in Brazil too...mixed metric with US...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drum_(container)


And yes you had Imperial gallons and US gallons...

"Do the Belgians still buy things like butter a "quart" at a time? They used to use that (1/4 kilo) and "demi-livre" pretty much indiscriminately 50 or so years ago."

No, not half a pound anymore, but a quart kilo (a quarter of a kilo) both in the French and Dutch speaking halve of Belgium...

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Sun 05 Oct 2014, 10:46

Imperial and American gallons are different but Imperial and American yards have always been the same. Or have they? .....

Since 1983 the international unit of length, the metre, has been defined as, "the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second”, but before then national standards of length, whether metres, yards, cubits or whatevers were usually defined by a standard metal bar against which all other measures could be physically compared. Since 1758 Britain’s primary Imperial standard yard was a bronze bar held in the Houses of Parliament, but in 1834 this was destroyed in the House of Commons fire. Accordingly a new standard had to be reconstructed from copies of the original standard.

The Weights and Measures Act of 1855 granted official recognition to the new standard. Between 1845 and 1855 forty yard standards had been constructed, one of which was selected as the new Imperial standard. Four others, known as Parliamentary Copies, were distributed to The Royal Mint, The Royal Society of London, The Royal Observatory at Greenwich, and the New Palace at Westminster (Parliament). The other 35 yard standards were distributed to the cities of London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, as well the United States and other countries (although only the first five had official status). The Imperial standard received by the United States is known as "Bronze Yard No. 11" and this remained their ultimate standard until 1959.

Being a copy, albeit a direct one, the American bar differed very, very slightly from the British one. In the nineteenth century when engineering precision was generally relatively low, such miniscule variations made no practical difference: a yard of cloth was essentially the same whether manufactured in an American or British mill, and American-made .303 inch ammunition would perfectly fit in a British-made .303 inch rifle. But by the mid 20th century engineering precision had increased, as had the international trade in components (nuts, bolts etc) as opposed to fully finished items (such as an entire steam locomotive).

Things came to a head in WW2 when the US and British aircraft industries became integrated. The Americans were manufacturing engine components in Imperial dimensions to fit British manufactured engine components also in Imperial dimensions. But the US manufacturers measuring was based on their standard yard (ultimately traceable back to their 1855 copy) which was very slightly different to the British standard yard. The result was that things - especially the most critical, precision-made things - just didn’t fit, and expensive compromises and adjustments to tooling had to be made. It was a very serious problem but even so it was only in 1959 that the US and British standard yards finally attained parity when they were re-defined in terms of the international standard metre.
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Sun 11 Jan 2015, 23:22

Is it just me that thinks of temperatures below freezing in Celsius and above in Fahrenheit?
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Sun 11 Jan 2015, 23:31

Not really - I tend both to shiver and sweat in F, be feverish, keep tropical fish and incubate eggs in F but cook in C (by which I mean "Centigrade" not "Celsius" as Celsius had water boiling at 0 and freezing at 100 so I don't like the term applied to the modern units)
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 16 Jan 2015, 10:01

Celsius was going backwards in every sense. Prior to him two perfectly serviceable and calibratable ascending scales had already been developed - the Newton scale and the Rømer scale. I have a great regard for Rømer's scale - he is rightfully held up in Denmark as something of a local hero, though maybe less in academia than in the vintnery trade. His scale was actually not that apparently logical (I mean, water boiling at 70 degrees and freezing around 7.5?) and nor was it even hard and fast (he kept adjusting freezing point depending on whatever he'd read recently) but he did make one fantastic improvement on Galileo's thermoscope which probably only a Dane could have arrived at. Realising that Galileo's machine was too easily influenced by atmospheric pressure he set out to find a new medium the properties of which might be less swayed by non-thermal forces. Others around Europe were engaged in the same pursuit and in the end, as we know, liquid mercury won the day. But Rømer, acting in true "dranker" mode, hit upon wine as the perfect solution. His thermometers were incredibly popular - if it got really cold one could not only measure the temperature but also drink the contents to alleviate the effects somewhat. So popular were they indeed that another thermal student came to visit him from as far afield as Dresden and see if he could improve things a little. After downing the contents of quite a few thermometers Rømer's scale eventually got an overhaul from the two scientists and Rømer graciously allowed the student, Fahrenheit, to name the new version after himself (hic!).

Rømer, when not measuring heat and therefore relatively sober, was no dope. Besides introducing standard weights and measures, the Gregorian Calendar, the first streetlights, and of course feel-good thermometers to Denmark, and as well as inventing along the way the meridian circle, the altazimuth and the Passage Instrument, he also was the first to postulate the speed of light as a finite and measurable quantity - a theory ridiculed at the time until Huygens later used Rømer's data to calculate this finite speed, the first universal constant discovered here on earth and which presented itself to Rømer first (after several large thermometers one night, no doubt).
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 16 Jan 2015, 12:11

Wine - as coloured alcohol - is of course still used in thermometers and would have been eminently preferable to mercury in measuring atmospheric temperatures in northern europe. Mercury freezes at -38.9°C, a temperature not uncommonly achieved during Scandinavian winters, while a pure ethanol thermometer is good for readings down to about -70°C. Alcohol also expands more than mercury for the same degree rise in temperature and so the graduations are further apart and easier to read. It is also much cheaper and non-toxic, not that anyone was particulaly bothered about mercury's toxicity then.
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 16 Jan 2015, 12:26

For syphilitic alcoholics the ratio in parts consumption was probably around 1:1 at the time anyway.

Rømer also experimented with insulative clothing techniques and is credited with the first accurate scale measuring heat retention properties of duvets and winter coats etc. His Opvarmesejendommesmåling unit however wasn't as catchy as "tog".
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Nielsen
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 16 Jan 2015, 14:19

Thank you, Nordmann, for your spread of knowledge on the whys and wherefores of Dano-Norwegian mathematician &c. Ole Rømer.

Not many else would/could have done it so eloquently.

Let me explain, though, that I, for one, have moved on from thermometers and am now using glassware of various sizes for various purposes, e.g. such as drinking.

Cheers.
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 16 Jan 2015, 14:44

I am a great believer in Denmark's most illustrious tipplers getting their due recognition worldwide, Nielsen!

Jacob Christian Hansen Ellehammer (after whom the term "to get hammered" assumed a meaning in attune with modern nuances), for example, when not falling into his inventions had quite a few "firsts" under his belt when he finally toddled off to that great brunhus in the big blå himmel in 1946. His coaxial helicopter, produced by accident when trying to improve a motorbike in 1914, is a thing of beauty (its radial engine being air-cooled, also one of Ellehammer's firsts).



By 1935 he went the whole hog with coaxiality and came up with the multiaxial helicopter depicted below which apparently did very well in wind tunnels but rather less well as a means of transporting large quantities of dansk øl.



However he had a solution to that too - and in fact it was how he made his living (ie. earned his beer money). By 1940 nine out of every 10 drink-dispensing machines in Denmark came from Ellehammer's factory. Not bad for a watchmaker!
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Imperial weights and measure V Napoleonic stuff   Fri 16 Jan 2015, 18:20



Looks more like an autogiro like this Cierva of 1933 than a helo, surely - is that an engine at the front?
Is it propelled by an airscrew? I'm sure I've seen a twin-rotor Cierva (not contra-rotating) somewhere.

BTW - I gather we have Linnaeus to thank for turning Celsius right way up - or more accurately, the chap who made his thermometers.
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