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Metric System

Measuring Units In Folklore And History, The Metric Units, Bigger And Smaller Metric Units, Converting Between English And Metric Units

The metric system of measurement is an internationally agreed-upon set of units for expressing the amounts of various quantities such as length, mass, time, temperature, and so on.

Whenever we measure something, from the weight of a sack of potatoes to the distance to the moon, we must express the result as a number of specific units: for example, pounds and miles in the English system of measurement (although even England no longer fully uses that system), or kilograms and kilometers in the metric system. As of 1994, every nation in the world had adopted some aspects of the metric system, with only four exceptions: the United States, Brunei, Burma, and Yemen.

The metric system that is in common use around the world is only a portion of the broader International System of Units, a comprehensive set of measuring units for almost every measurable physical quantity from the ordinary, such as time and distance, to the highly technical, such as the properties of energy, electricity and radiation. The International System of Units grew out of the 9th General [International] Conference on Weights and Measures, held in 1948. The 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures, held in 1960, refined the system and adopted the French name Système International d'Unités, abbreviated as SI.

Because of its convenience and consistency, scientists have used the metric system of units for more than 200 years. Originally, the metric system was based on only three fundamental units: the meter for length, the kilogram for mass, and the second for time. Today, there are more than 50 officially recognized SI units for various scientific quantities.

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