# Metric System

## Converting Between English And Metric Units

The problem of changing over a highly industrialized nation such as the United States to a new system of measurements is a substantial one. Once the metric system is in general use in the United States, its simplicity and convenience will be enjoyed, but the transition period, when both systems are in use, can be difficult. Nevertheless, it will be easier than it seems. While the complete SI is intimidating because it covers every conceivable kind of scientific measurement over an enormous range of magnitudes, there are only a small number of units and prefixes that are used in everyday life.

## Resources

### Books

Alder, Ken. The Measure of All Things: The Seven Year Odyssey and Hidden Error that Transformed the World. New York: Free Press, 2002.

Hebra, Alexius J. Measure for Measure: The Story of Imperial, Metric, and Other Units. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

### Periodicals

"The International System of Units (SI)." United States Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Special Publication 330 (1991).

### Other

Bartlett, David. A Concise Reference Guide to the Metric System [cited October 2002]. <http://www.bms.abdn.ac.uk/undergraduate/guidetounits.html>.

"Interpretation of the SI for the United States and Metric Conversion Policy for Federal Agencies." United States Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Special Publication 814 (1991).

Robert L. Wolke

## KEY TERMS

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Kelvin

—The International System (SI) unit of temperature. It is the same size as the degree Celsius.

Mass

—A measure of the amount of matter in a sample of any substance. Mass does not depend on the strength of a planet's gravitational force, as does weight.

Matter

—Any substance. Matter has mass and occupies space.

Temperature

—A measure of the average kinetic energy of all the elementary particles in a sample of matter.