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Q: Metric-English relationship ( Answered,   1 Comment )
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 Subject: Metric-English relationship Category: Science > Math Asked by: fengis-ga List Price: \$10.00 Posted: 05 May 2004 18:14 PDT Expires: 04 Jun 2004 18:14 PDT Question ID: 341777
 ```Is it a coincidence that the conversion factor between miles to kilometers is 1.609, which is approximately the golden ratio, phi, which is 1.618? What is the relationship between metric and english units? and how did they come about?```
 ```fengis-ga: The relationship between the metric and 'english' units of measure are as wide-ranging and unique as any relationship defined by humans can be. Both the metric system and the imperial system of measurement have experienced many iterations over their history, with the metric system (being the newer of the two) seeing the most refinement over the last 132 years due to the advances in humanity's understanding of the physics of the universe. An excellent resource for you to get an overview of the relationship between modern metric (SI) and imperial units can be found here: A Dictionary of Units - by Frank Tapson http://www.ex.ac.uk/cimt/dictunit/dictunit.htm On this page, the author cites the exact, internationally accepted definitions of the base SI units including the metre. To see how this unique definition was arrived at, you should read the history maintained on the official SI website: http://www1.bipm.org/en/si/history-si/evolution_metre.html You will observe that metric base units are all based on physical constants, that is, occurences in nature that can be repeatably measured. The only measurement that is not purely a measurable phenomenon is the base unit of weight, the kilogram; this continues to be defined by a man-made prototype that has been measured very precisely to the best abilities of modern science. The Imperial/US systems of measure, on the other hand, are essentially still based on the science of 'biblical' times, as modified through the ages. An excellent and interesting page to read about the historical evolution of the 'english' measurements can be found at: http://users.aol.com/jackproot/met/spvolas.html Here, we can find a couple of interesting tidbits: -------------------------------- "in Old England, the mile - derived from the Roman "mille passus" or 1000 double steps - was originally 5000 feet long as in the Roman definition (1 "passus" = 5 feet). Later, it took 5280 feet to accomodate exactly 8 furlongs, the most popular measure of the time. Actually, the usual happened : the foot and the rod went slowly their separate ways, being used by different industries (the weaver and the farmer ...) Things had to be straightened up and, as the foot and the rod were already entrenched, we find these strange figures : 16.5 ft/rod and 5280 ft/mile. This was voted by the House under Queen Elizabeth I in 1595. It should be noted that the furlong comes from the Greek and Roman stadion, which they themselves inherited from more ancient times. It seems to be the optimal length for the traditional plough." -------------------------------- "The rod was determined by lining up 16 men (after the Sunday Service, the story goes) and measuring the combined lenght of all their left feet. These 16 feet make up 16.5 "feet". Thickness of the shoes ? Gaps between feet ? This is tradition ..." -------------------------------- Of particular note is the fact that, up until 1595, the mile was defined as 5000 feet; it was redefined as 5280 feet to accommodate standardization of measurements across trades. Elsewhere on this page, you can read about how the basic units of measure were constantly being revised over the years to try to correct for errors (intentional and otherwise) that crept in over the years, as well as to accommodate for the whim of whoever was the ruler of the (English) nation at the time. All of this is to say that yes, it is completely a coincidence (meaning, not by design) that the conversion factor between a mile and a kilometre is approximately 1.609, which in turn is close to the Golden Ratio. Imperial measures are derived from the science of ancient history (ie. what could be easily observed with the human eye), while metric measures are based on the science of modern times and humanity's understanding of the physics of the universe. Incidentally, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, Weights and Measures Division, maintains the official US guide for measurement systems and conversions. Their website is: http://ts.nist.gov/ts/htdocs/230/235/owmhome.htm and the relevant publication is: http://ts.nist.gov/ts/htdocs/230/235/h4402/appenc.pdf I hope this is helpful! aht-ga Google Answers Researcher```
 ```Yes, it is a coincidence. There is no relationship between them whatsoever. None.```