Eurostar : Why are there no speed and distance in UK measurements?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Mutant Lemming, 12 Apr 2019.

  1. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    A few bus companies in Britain still use the 12 hour clock, for example Brighton & Hove

    www.buses.co.uk

    (pdf timetables are 12 hour, although they are shown in 24 hour format in the browser)
     
  2. Groningen

    Groningen Established Member

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    You are right LivingBelowYM: from that website > There are no time restrictions for any passes at weekends and on Bank Holidays (valid from 12:01am until midnight). / Not 12:00 am!
     
  3. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    It may have been answered earlier in this thread, but to reply literally to the title of the thread:
    Eurostar : Why are there no speed and distance in UK measurements?
    answer:
    On Eurostar, speeds and distances are in UK measurements, i.e. km/h and km which are legally defined as UK standard speed and distance units. So the question presumes a falsehood.
     
  4. Lucan

    Lucan Member

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    Actually, that does not make sense. The factor to the next unit is not constant - ie those factors go 10x then 100x times then 1000x.

    That is not the problem; the official UK line is following the modern SI system (the International System of Units) which has consistent multiples of 1000 between units. Hence for example grammes-kiligrammes-tonnes and microns-millimetres-metres-kilometers. Using centimetres is a relic of the old CGS system - there is more than one "metric system" - but its use is entrenched just like pints and miles are.

    As an engineer I avoid cm, which I think of as a dressmaker's unit, even if I need to use mm by the hundreds. People using cm (including ones abroad, eg those in Belgium exporting class mentioned above) are not following the modern SI system so it is they, not the British government, who are being awkward, stick-in-the-mud, dinosaurs, or whatever else the British usually accuse each other of being in this matter. If you really want to see people clinging to old standards, you should take a look in some technical USA-centric discussion forums.

    A problem with distances in the SI system is that the millmetre is rather small for many jobs at human scale (eg joinery), and the metre is rather long. Little thought was given to its original definition, one ten-millionth of the distance from the Equator to the North Pole, in the context a completely arbitrary choice that was impossible to use as a standard anyway*. It is a shame that the inch was not used as the fundamental distance in a decimal system, a good unit for carpenters and dressmakers to use, and a "thou"[santh] of an inch was a very good derived unit for eg toolmakers and instrument makers, it being a distance increment that can be readily measured by a workshop vernier caliper gauge.

    * Earth's longitudinal circumference was only roughly known at the time, but having defined it as the standard a lot of unnecessary (in the context of standards) effort was spent trying to measure it more accurately. Every time someone calculated a more accutate figure, the standard would change. Eventually the standard was replaced by a metal rod (and recently by a multiple of light wavelengths). The metre was also slightly related to the length of a one-second pendulum.
     
  5. DavidGrain

    DavidGrain Member

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    In the UK railways were traditionally measured in miles and chains. I am wondering how many people in the UK today know that there are 100 links in a chain and 80 chains in a mile. When I was in secondary school we had an exercise, I think it was part of the geography syllabus, where we surveyed the school playing field. The form was split into three groups who each used a different method. I was in the 'chain gang' where we used a Gunter's Surveying chain to measure the sides and diagonals to build up triangles so that we could draw the plan back in class.
    [​IMG]A Gunter's chain as used to measuring distances
     
  6. sprunt

    sprunt Member

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    The spellchecker isn't part of the forum - it's part of the web browser you're using to browse the forum. I don't know what browser you're using, but if it's Google Chrome (on a computer rather than a phone or tablet) you can change it as follows:

    1. Select "Settings" from the menu you get when you click on the three dots arranged verticallly in the top right of the browser window.
    2. Scroll down to the bottom of the settings page and click on "Advanced".
    3. Scroll down to the section headed "Languages" and click on the little down arrow next to "Spell Check".
    4. You should then be able to switch off "English (US)" and switch on "English (UK)".
     
  7. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Zimbabwe uses kilometres.
    It does however use UK-pattern electricity plugs (while South Africa still uses the older (round pin) UK standard).

    One case where the UK standard won out was on time and longitude.
    There was an International Meridian Conference in 1884 to agree the world basis for time and longitude measurement, by agreeing the prime meridian.
    The railways were instrumental in forcing the adoption of standard time, particularly in the US with its wide spread of longitude and therefore local times.
    There were several contenders: London (Greenwich), Paris, Berlin and Washington, although Greenwich was already the de facto standard in many countries.

    Greenwich was indeed eventually chosen, mainly because a large fraction of existing navigation charts used longitudes based on Greenwich.
    The French wanted a "neutral" meridian that did not cross land - ie somewhere in the middle of the Pacific.
    While abstaining on the main vote, the French only adopted the Greenwich meridian in 1911 and even then refused to use the term Greenwich Mean Time.
    A further international agreement decided the time system based on GMT should be called Universal Time everywhere.
    It's now called UTC - Coordinated Universal Time, which is what you will find it called in international timetables and navigation almanacs worldwide.
    We routinely ignore the term UTC and still call it GMT.
    The world time authority was not in Greenwich or even in the UK, it was at the Bureau International de l'Heure, in Paris.
    This is all regulated today by cooperative international agreements.

    The 1884 conference also "hoped" that decimal divisions of time and angular measure would be agreed in the future, to replace the sexagesimal measures.
    We do have decimal degrees today (eg GPS readings), but we are still waiting for decimal times of day.
     
  8. LeeLivery

    LeeLivery Member

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    It's really not difficult to know the basics in rail terms.

    1.6km = 1mi
    15km = ~10mi
    60km = ~40mi
    100km = ~60mi
    120km = ~75mi
    160km = ~100mi
    200km = ~125mi
    225km = ~140mi
    300km = ~186mi
    320km = ~200mi

    If you can remember that then you're sorted.

    No. Because people would inevitably make this about Europe and not being European ignoring the fact it's a global standard and we are geographically... European. They're only happy when Britain or America sets a standard - anywhere else and it's "unelected bureaucrats" forcing it on us.

    We should change it all to km - it would be for our own good whether you like it or not. You'd no longer need to convert to mi.
     
  9. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    We were taught the metric system at school, but I've always been comfortable measuring in inches and feet and judging speed in mph.

    I can easily do km to mi conversions in my head, wanting to know how fast trains were doing on European networks led me to teach myself that.

    160km/h = 99mph
    200km/h = 124mph
    300km/h = 186mph
    320km/h = 199mph

    Conversely

    100mph = 161km/h
    125mph = 201km/h
    155mph = 249km/h
    200mph= 322km/h

    And yes that is all from memory to the nearest whole km/h or mph.

    As for changing which side of the road we drive on - Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan all use km/h but drive on the left without issue. I think that's what will likely happen in the UK - remain driving on the left but switch to km/h, probably in a similar manner to Ireland in 2007.
     
  10. DavidGrain

    DavidGrain Member

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    I notice that no one yet converts MPG to metric yet we have been buying fuel in litres for years. It is only now that car acceleration is being shown in seconds to do 0 to 62mph rather 0-60.

    When shops went metric I had no problems converting prices per kg to price per lb because it was a simple calculation to halve the price and deduct 10%. I soon realised that I did not need to bother as I was buying not by weight but by number as for example 4 apples instead of a pound of apples and the same for all other fruit and veg.

    I used to buy petrol by the gallon. I now just fill the tank.Although the electronics in the pumps has helped that.
     
  11. Lucan

    Lucan Member

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    No, an inch is 25.4mm.
     
  12. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    At least the litre is universal.
    The American gallon is 4/5 of ours, so "mpg" means something different over there.
    The rest of the world uses "litres per 100km" as the fuel consumption measure, ie the inverse of mpg.
     
  13. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    In my case, 6 years of converting UK rail milages into kilometres for German-develped software drills the conversions into you!
     
  14. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    I can imagine it would do! :lol:

    Celsius to Fahrenheit is another that's imbedded in the old brain box and that's from a maths teacher giving us the conversion ratio years ago.

    To be honest in most cases I find it easier to simply memorise the figure than the formula for the conversion.
     
  15. DavidGrain

    DavidGrain Member

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    The problem with Celsius to Fahrenheit is that we were taught a complicated formula: °c x 9 /5 + 32 = °F
    A much easier formula to do in your head is: °C x 2 subtract 10% then add 32 = °F
     
  16. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    I go with 21C being 70F and work from there on the basis 1 degree C is about 2.2 degrees F.
     
  17. DavidGrain

    DavidGrain Member

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    1°C = 1.8°F
     
  18. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Oh dear :|

    :lol:
     
  19. didcotdean

    didcotdean Member

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    It doesn't work so well at the extremes, but F=C*2+30 isn't a bad approximation for most day temps and easy to do in the head. Celsius has been used in public weather forecasts from the Met Office since 1962.
     
  20. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Litres per 100km is the one metric measurement I struggle to convert to. But it is logical - the higher the number the higher the fuel consumption.
     
  21. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Since the trip counter works in miles and the petrol pump works in litres, I tend to use miles per litre.
     
  22. Lucan

    Lucan Member

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    I always thought the Fahreheit scale was ridiculous, even when I first learned about it as a child and it was still the norm. It was based on the freezing point of a solution of a salt that you would only find in a chemistry lab, and a typical human body temperature (as if that does not vary). It is not even "British" (the name is a clue). Yet the TV weather forecasters were still adding a Fahrenheit figure long after decimalisation was meant to happen. What did the public find so hard to understand with Celcius - with 0 being water freezing, 100 being boiling, and 20 being a mild summers day? As temperature is not a chracteristic used in commerce, you would have though it was the easiest scale to have changed to decimal units.

    As a child I used to help my father in his photographic darkroom, and he said the chemicals had to be at 68 deg F. It seemed an odd figure to me until years later I realised that was 20 deg C. That to me is a conversion point. Now I wish to forget Fahrenheit entirely, but some people (think USA-centric technical forums) are still using it.
     
  23. DavidGrain

    DavidGrain Member

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    When I was at primary school we also used to talk about 'degrees of frost' that is how many degrees Fahrenheit it was below 32°F. I suppose this was to adjust for the fact that the temperature could be below freezing point yet still be a positive number.
     
  24. whhistle

    whhistle Established Member

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    Because we should be using the same measurements by now :p
    We appear to have stalled half way between the old units and new.

    Like milk/beer is measured in pints, yet fizzy drinks in milliliters!
     
  25. whhistle

    whhistle Established Member

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    I wish weather people would stop using that.
    Not many people alive really use it properly now.

    Same with the warnings not to wash chicken...
    By placing a warning, some people may have thought it was a possibility that you should.
    I don't know anyone that has ever thought to wash meat before cooking.
     
  26. whhistle

    whhistle Established Member

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    The Swiss do.
    I think we should have more referendums and allow the people of the country to decide what happens. No re-runs, no changes. If you can't be bothered to vote, that's your downfall.
     
  27. DavidGrain

    DavidGrain Member

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    Something else I learned at school. 1,000 calories (small c) = 1 Calorie (capital C),
    Look at food packages now and they do not use Calories but use kcal which makes more sense. They also use kj but that is a unit I have never learned.
     
  28. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    Ahem: https://www.independent.co.uk/voice...land-independence-roger-scruton-a8865811.html
    I agree however that in a CULTURE of frequent routine referendums at local and national levels on all kinds of issues, a very rare and major one over a significant constitutional matter would be less likely to become such a lightning rod for everyone's general dissatisfaction and protests. It's notable that while there's much direct democracy in Switzerland, their ruling coalition and leadership has been remarkably stable for decades.
     
  29. zuriblue

    zuriblue Member

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    Nope. At a federal level there are 4 voting days a year (the next one’s in May) with 2 or 3 items on the ballot. Most law changes are decided by Parliament. If enough people don’t like a law and can get 50000 signatures together within 6 months of it passing then the law can be put to the vote to repeal it.
     
  30. Lucan

    Lucan Member

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    Beer (in pubs) has stayed in pints because pub customers are supposed to be the most conservative consumers of all, who would riot and overthrow the governement within the hour if anything were done to interfere with their customs.

    At school we studied George Orwell's 1984 (set in the then near future) in which an old guy in a pub complains about beer going metric. He said he missed his pint because "Half a litre is not enough and a litre sets my bladder running!". At the time I assumed from this that a litre must be about a pint-and-a-half, but since then I realised that half a litre is only slightly less than a pint (0.88 pints). So what is the problem again? At home I regularly pour 500ml cans of beer into a pint tankard and it fits nicely, including the froth.

    Of course, "real" beer drinkers want the barman to fill the glass until some of it is overflowing down the drain and more tips over the floor as they carry it back to their table, otherwise they think they have been diddled. My brother-in-law is like that, even with a cup of tea.
     

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