13 July 2007

Metric is not so foreign, more English than the Imperial system

In a bit of a blow to those who want to cling on to good old British Imperial measures like pounds and ounces - it turns out it was an Englishman who invented the "foreign" metric system.

Or so claims Pat Naughtin, a metrication specialist from Australia, who carried out his research at Wadham College in Oxford, at Trinity College in Cambridge, and at the Royal Society in London.

He says John Wilkins, founder of the Royal Society, first published his ideas for a metric measure in 1668 → 120 years before the French adopted the metric system.

Wilkins' system was complete in that it was based on decimal numbers (10s, 100s, and 1000s) and its measurements were to be based on an internationally agreed 'universal measure', which would become the basis for other measures.

Our modern measuring methods now use all of Wilkins' ideas: we use prefixes to go from millimetres via metres to kilometres, we have a universally agreed definition of a metre, and a litre of water has a mass of a kilogram.

Although Wilkins did not use the word 'metre', its use became common after Tito Livio Burattini translated Wilkins 'universal measure' to its Italian equivalent, 'metro catholico' and, it seems that this was later translated, and shortened, to the French word, metre.

(From a Press Release issued by the UKMA)


Metric was invented by a good Christian bishop, rather than an atheist or someone of another religion. I have found that many well-meaning christian people have erroneously thought that imperial was better than metric and that God invented the imperial system. Yet the imperial system is almost totally pagan in its origins, whereas metric is christian.

Bishop John Wilkins among other things:
  • Was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
  • Was Warden of Wadham College, Oxford.
  • Married to Oliver Cromwell’s sister.
  • Wrote “the first book in English on cryptography”.
  • Was one of the Chief Founders of the Royal Society, the UK’s most important science academy.

Let’s hear it for rational polymathic Bishops who have no trouble reconciling a rational faith in a rational God with a rational outlook on the rational world.”


(Quoted from the Wardman Wire blog)


Further commentary can also be found at Metric Views.

1 comment:

Pamelia said...

Good for people to know.