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Metric and Imperial equivalents

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Revision as of 10:55, 4 June 2011 by 82.203.3.4 (Talk)

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Most countries in the world now use the metric system. Almost the only holdouts still using the old British Imperial system of weights and measures are the USA and Liberia (and Myanmar, which its system). The United Kingdom and Canada (except the already msotly metrified francophone Quebec) are in a curious state halfway between metric and Imperial units, and while many things are measured in metric, you will still often encounter miles, pints, feet and stone during your visit. The only units that the two systems have in common are time units from second to century.

We use "=" signs below, but all are approximate.

Temperature

←freezing cold cool mild warm hot swelter cooked→
°C  -40 -18 -4 0 4 7 10 13 15 18 21 24 26 30 32 35 40
°F  -40 0 25 32 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 104

 

100 °C212 °F — Water boils
58 °C136 °F — Highest temperature recorded on Earth
37 °C98.6 °F — Human body temperature
20 °C68 °F — Room temperature
0 °C32 °F — Water freezes
-18 °C0 °F — Ouch
-40 °C-40 °FForty below zero!
-89 °C-129 °F — Lowest temperature recorded on earth
-273.15 °C-459.67 °F — Absolute zero


For those who are not used to metric thermometers, there are a few ways to think about it.

Option 1: From metric (Celsius) to Fahrenheit, double the number and add 30. From Fahrenheit to Celsius, subtract 30 and divide in half. This is not exact and it won't work for much higher or lower temperatures, but it will be close enough to understand what the temperature is.

Option 2: A nice little poem to remember for Celsius: Zero is freezing 10 is not 20 is warm and 30 is hot

Option 3: For the mathematically inclined or those with a calculator, Fahrenheit=(C*1.8)+32. Celsius=(F-32)/1.8

Length and distance

  • 1 inch (1") = 2.54 cm
  • 1 foot (1') = 30 cm
  • 1 mile = 1.6 km

Comparisons

  • A credit card is about 0.75 mm (3/4 of a millimetre) thick
  • 1 cm (centimetre) is the width of an average fingernail.
  • Most adults are between 1.5 and 2 metres tall.
  • 1 km (kilometre) takes about 15 minutes to walk.

Weight

  • 1 kg = 2.2 pounds
  • 1 ounce = 28.54 grams
  • 1 pound = 454 grams

For China, the jing is almost exactly 500 grams.

Surface area

For small things, one might use square inches or square centimetres. There are about 6.5 cm2 in one in2.

For floor area of an apartment, there are about 11 square feet in one square metre.

For large areas, there are about 2.5 acres in one hectare.

Volume

The standard metric unit of volume is the litre.

Many things, however, are measured in millilitres (mL) or equivalently in cubic centimetres (cc). Roughly, a teaspoon is 5 cc and a fluid ounce is 30 cc.

In both the US and the Imperial systems, 4 quarts = 1 gallon and 2 pints = 1 quart. However, the US units are smaller than Imperial counterparts. A US quart is 32 fluid ounces while Imperial is 40; a litre is in between at 35. A US gallon is 128 ounces or 3.78 litres, but an Imperial gallon is 160 ounces or 4.54 litres.

For car and motorcycle engines, displacement might be given in cc or litres or cubic inches: 1000 cc or one litre is 61 cubic inches.

Comparisons

  • 1 L of water weighs 1 kg. Since many liquids (milk, orange juice) are sold in litre containers it is easy to judge 1 L or 1 kg.
  • 1 L is equivalent to a cube 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm.
  • 1 Cubic metre (1 m3) = 1000 litres. 1 m3 of water weighs 1000 kg = 1 tonne. Do not try to pick this up yourself!
  • In Europe, wine is usually sold in 750 mL (0.75 L) bottles (occasionally 700 mL or 1 L).

Metric prefixes

1 mm = 1 / 1000 metres, 1 mg = 1 / 1000 g, 1 mL = 1 / 1000 Litres.

1 cm = 1 / 100 metres.

1 km = 1000 metres, 1 kg = 1000 grams.

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