Series pilot: The Metre and Friends

Can’t figure out how many centimetres there are in an inch? Stumped by the litre? Think the kilogram is a killjoy? If so, you’re not alone — but you are in an increasingly exclusive club.

In our first episode, we introduce ourselves and discuss the metric system, from its very beginnings in revolutionary France to the world-spanning International System of Units in use today.

One thought on “Series pilot: The Metre and Friends

  1. I find it interesting that the metre, a unit that we take to be the basic measurement of length, was primarily defined by an irrational constant (namely, pi). Interesting how that dynamic works, and we see how it works with degrees and radians. Just a fun little thought experiment 🙂

    However, I do take issue with the definition of the metre, since it seems to me that it is only precise because of its recursive nature. It is defined currently, as you mentioned, as the distance that light travels in 1/299,792,458 of a second. While, sure, it may be that the second is very reliably measured (though, again, I would not be surprised if it too was recursively defined) though what distance did they know to measure that would give them the result they were looking for? The speed of light was based on something empirical, previously, and so must the “standard metre”. I just think it is interesting that though we try to move toward strictly objective science, it’s interpretation is always culturally situated.

    Great show guys!

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