Totally OT - Centigrade vs Farenheit

I live part time in China…(as an aside, the Fahrenheit system is utterly ludicrous, how or why it was adopted rather than scorned I can’t imagine) - BrittleRock

Hi BrittleRock, I couldn’t agree more. We live part time in Europe and discovered Centigrade there. We think in centigrade now and set our computers and smartphones to give the temperature in centigrade even when we are in the US. It’s astounding that the US is the only country on the planet that still uses Fahrenheit (as far as I know anyway). What idiocy, and what an idiotic system. It’s as if we’re saying “We are the most powerful country so we aren’t going to adopt a system that didn’t start in the good old United States, even if the system we’re using is silly”. But Fahrenheit really is ludicrous, as you say. Freezing at 32 degrees? boiling at 212 degrees? Where did they get those random numbers? 0 degrees is just a random number too, with no significance, as is 100. They don’t mean anything. Even in the US every field of science uses centigrade.

Compare centigrade with 0 for freezing and 100 for boiling, and 100 degrees between them. You instantly know what a temperature means: -4 is real cold, +5 is cold 10 is cold but not too bad, at 14 or 15 you can wear shorts if you are exercising, 21 or 22 is room temperature, 27-28 is where it starts getting warm, 35 is too hot, etc. I’m sure you could do the same thing with Fahrenheit but 48, 54, 58, etc were always just a blur to me.

I know this is terribly off topic, which is why I put it on a OT thread.




At least with temperature we don’t have conflicting scales that shift according to the magnitude of what is being measured - a degree is a degree on either scale. The crazy steps as you scale from inches to miles, ounces to tons, make 32 to 212 trivially easy by comparison.

When cooking I have been moving to doing everything I can in grams. The instructions on the pancake mix say one cup dry measure of mix. The Nutritional Facts says Serving Size 1/4 Cup Mix (34g). So I weigh 136 grams on the scale.

We live part time in Europe and discovered Centigrade there. We think in centigrade now and set our computers and smartphones to give the temperature in centigrade even when we are in the US.

Hi Saul,

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard or read “Centigrade.” While I live in the US, I’m an engineer and very familiar with both metric and English units. I’ve typically heard and read “Celsius” (after Anders Celsius) rather than “Centigrade.”

I think the US will get there eventually, but I expect that there will be resistance from those that do not want to change.


The crazy steps as you scale from inches to miles, ounces to tons, make 32 to 212 trivially easy by comparison. When cooking I have been moving to doing everything I can in grams. - RhinCT

How about 5280 feet to a mile, or 1760 yards to a mile, compared to 1000 meters in a kilometer? Or 36 inches in a yard compared to 100cm in a meter? And 16 ounces in a pound, when the rest of the world uses 1000 grams in a kilogram? What are we, idiots or something? to be hanging on to medieval archaic systems just because we don’t want to “follow” the rest of the world?

Oh well…

“Kilo” means one thousand and “centi” means one hundredth.

Kiloton = 1000 tons
Kiloliter = 1000 liters
centiliter = 0.01 liters
centipede = bug with 100 legs (oh well…)

Denny Schlesinger

It’s funny, but the world of dental teeth counting is similar:

Everywhere but in the US, the International System is used, including here in Canada. The teeth are labelled by two identifying numbers. The first number is the quadrant of the tooth: the top right is Quad I, then goes around clockwise when looking at the face, so top left Quad 2, bottom left Quad 3, bottom right Quad 4. The second number is the number of the tooth from the midline of the face: you start at the midline the go backwards 1 to 8 (the central incisor is 1, canine 3, wisdom tooth is 8). For baby teeth the quads go 5-8.

In the US (and pretty much only the US) they use the American System, which starts with tooth #1 at the top right wisdom tooth, then continues clockwise to tooth #32 (bottom right wisdom tooth) Seems simple enough… but completely ridiculous… For example:

The four first permanent molars:
International system: 16, 26, 36, 46
American System: 3, 14, 19, 30

Adult canines:
IS: 13, 23, 33, 43
AS: 6, 11, 22, 27

Baby second primary molars:
IS: 55, 65, 75, 85
AS: A, J, K, T

The US system is just silly - It’s so easy to teach someone the international system within a few minutes. But in the US system there’s really nothing to teach other than brute memorizing and counting… I remember laughing at how ridiculous the system was when going to my residency in the US, and sitting there counting trying to figure out which tooth needed to be fixed…



My undergrad degree is in the sciences - chemistry, so I gave your OP that rec, Saul! Couldn’t agree more.


Tooth numbering by American dentists is made particularly ludicrous when one considers people like me who had two wisdom teeth, both sides, top and bottom … what number are those???

Of course, it is only dentists who use either system. In all other sciences dealing with teeth we use I, C, P, or M for incisor, canine, premolar (not bicuspid), and molar, a number to indicate sequence from the midline, placed to the left or right of the letter to indicate side, and subscript or superscript to indicate upper or lower. Of course, that is harder to write in text like this, but is extremely clear and works for all vertebrates.

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Hi Denny,

“Kilo” means one thousand and “centi” means one hundredth.

Not when it comes to measuring bytes!

1,048,576,000,000 Bytes =
1,024,000,000 Kilobytes =
1,000,000 Megabytes =
976.5625 Gigabytes =
0.95367 Terabytes


1 Byte = 8 Bit
1 Kilobyte = 1,024 Bytes
1 Megabyte = 1,048,576 Bytes
1 Gigabyte = 1,073,741,824 Bytes
1 Terabyte = 1,099,511,627,776 Bytes

Then again, we Americans probably were the ones who created this measurement anyway. :wink:


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Not when it comes to measuring bytes!

That’s because you are commingling decimal and binary number systems. Most unscientific, most apples to aardvarks!

BTW, do you know what happened in 2724? Columbus discovered or rediscovered America or the West Indies.

Denny Schlesinger

That’s because you are commingling decimal and binary number systems. Most unscientific, most apples to aardvarks!

Absolutely! Just a failed attempt at humor. -DJ

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Let me add my experience.I am a pediatrician. we calculate our doses on weight. when i 1 st moved to this country, i was terrified of this lbs and ozes, constantly trying to convert to calculate doses.I could not understand how US doctors dealt with t his and why?
thankfully now a days we have EMR and so the computer does the calculation.
another thing we do is calculate weight loss in Newborns ; this is very important. imagine my frustration trying to calculate weight loss- birth weight 6 lbs 7.5 oz, now 5 lbs 8oz. I will have a paper and pencil adding and subtracting and going OMG why why?? Add to this many of the ancillary staff never understood the difference between 6.5lbs and 6 lbs and 5 oz. I constantly have to check with them.

Now the rule is to weigh in KG. still parents are used to lbs and oz and are not satisfied hearing the wt in KG

Thanks Saul for starting this thread. I got it off my chest


trying to calculate weight loss- birth weight 6 lbs 7.5 oz, now 5 lbs 8oz

Hi ushats

In explaining to parents how much the baby has lost in ounces convert 6 lbs to 5 lbs + 16 oz.

Now it’s all in 5 lbs and something. The baby has lost from 5 lbs 23.5 oz down to 5 lbs 8 oz (or 15.5 ounces).

If you want to do percent of body weight lost, convert the initial body weight into ounces (6 pounds = 6x16 ounces = 96 ounces) thus 6 lbs 7.5 ounces is 105.5 ounces. Baby lost 15.5 ounces. Amount lost = 15.5/105.5 = 15% of body weight.

Or you could do current weight/original weight = 5lbs8oz/6lbs7.5oz = 88 oz/103.5 oz = 85%.

Hope this helps. It’s a ridiculous system, but if the parents want to hear it in pounds and ounces you may be stuck with it.


Yes, and the origin of the kilometer was rooted in physical reality. 10,000 kilometers is the distance from the equator to the North Pole (actually, 10,002, but at the time they came up with it, 10,000 was the best measurement they could get - Sorry, I’m not sure who the “they” was - were?).

Someone else mentioned Farenheit as an American system. I didn’t think that was right, 'cause I thought it might predate the founding of the USofA. Binged it (I just got back from China, still using Bing because I couldn’t access Google), Copied from:…

The Fahrenheit scale, which measures temperature, was created by Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736), a German-Dutch scientist, in 1724. He devoted much of his life’s work to the measurement of temperature, and also invented the alcohol and mercury thermometers. On the Fahrenheit scale, the point at which frozen water melts is 32°, and the point where at which it boils is 212°. Between these two points is exactly 180°, a number easily divisible on a thermostat. Although we know with a degree of certainty what measurements the scientist used to determine his scale, his process of arriving at the final scale is largely unknown.

The article goes on to list several speculations as to how this bizarre scale was arrived at, but they are all speculations, so basically, no one really knows and Daniel didn’t leave notes. Daniel is also credited with the invention of alcohol and mercury thermometers.

A milliliter is the volume of water in a cubic millimeter at 4 degrees C (by a quirk of nature water is one of the few substances on the planet that expands upon freezing, thereby being a major factor of erosion. 4 degrees is when it is at it’s greatest density at 1 atmosphere pressure).

In other words, most of the metric system is inter-related and based on physical phenomena. The Celsius system was created prior to knowledge of absolute zero. I assume if this were known at the time, we would an even more sensible temperature system - although the US would likely still be using Farenheit anyway.

The units of time: 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day also seems bizarre to me. It’s also arbitrary. Why not 100 seconds to a minute, 100 minutes to an hour, 100 hours to a day, or if that’s too many, making scheduling difficult, 10 hours of daylight and 10 hours of night at the equator on the solstice? Or pegged to some natural vibration (as it is now, The International System of Units (SI) defines one second as the time it takes a Cesium-133 atom at the ground state to oscillate exactly 9,192,631,770 times.).

Yeah, OK, Galileo wasn’t aware of Cesium crystals, but he messed about with pendulums. And long before him Pythagoras was studying vibrating strings. There were lots of missed opportunities to make this rational.

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Wait a minute!!!

The problem here is numbering system conversions. Digital computers are basically nothing collections of binary switches which can be in one of two states: on or off (yeah, oversimplification, but basically that’s the the basis of digital computing).

So what we have here is a number system based on powers of 2 rather than powers of 10. Base 2 has two symbols, typically 0 and 1. Base ten has 10 symbols, typically, 0 - 9 (these symbols came from the Arabic writing system, China also adopted a base ten system but has a different symbol set. Also Chinese uses 10^4 as break points while we Westerners use 10^3. In the West a thousand thousands make a million, in China a hundred ten thousands make a million - seems subtle, but it can be very confusing).

Anyway, a byte is 2^3 or 1000 in base 2, otherwise known as 8 in base 10. Using powers of 2 we get:
0 = 0 base 2, = 0 base 10
2^1 = 10 base 2, = 2 base 10
2^2 = 100 base 2, = 8 base 10
2^3 = 1000 base 2, = 16 base 10
2^10 = 10,000,000,000 base 2, = 1024 base 10 (the commas are not usually used when writing base 2 numbers).

Another number system, hexadecimal which is base 16 written with the 10 Arabic symbols and the first 6 letters of the Latin alphabet as capitals: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F is widely used in computing because 16 bits is the length of a “word” (double byte) and it is not as cumbersome as writing in base 2. If you have even a marginally sophisticated calculator, you can probably put it in hexadecimal mode and perform standard arithmetic operations in base 16.

Sorry about all this - I’m somewhat of a geek . . .

It’s also arbitrary

There is set of units that are not arbitrary – units that are almost universally used by particle physicists (which is one of my trades): we define the speed of light ( c ), the gravitational constant (G), the Boltzmann constant (k) and the reduced Planck’s constant (h-bar) all to equal 1. These are called natural units, or sometimes Planck units – we feel, in a nondenominational sort of way, that these are the units set by God or Nature.

This makes calculations much easier – at the end, if one wishes to reintroduce more standard units, they can always be recovered unambiguously just by knowing the dimension (meaning units, basically – e.g., energy or momentum or distance) of the calculated quantity.

Interestingly (although perhaps only to me), there are a few very important dimensionless constants in physics, which are necessarily the same in every system of units (because they are, well, dimensionless . . . .). The most famous is alpha, the fine structure constant, which basically measures the strength of the electromagnetic interaction. Alpha is unusual because it is so close to one divided by 137 that for a long time it was thought to be exactly that number – which would possibly indicate something very fundamental about the universe. (One does not expect this type of constant to be a rational number – the odds against it happening randomly are essential infinite.)

Alas, better technology and more precise measurements eventually indicated that alpha is merely very close to that number, and is not a simple ratio of integers. Nonetheless, if one wishes to guess a 3-digit PIN number or numerical password (e.g., on luggage) of someone who is a theoretical physicist, the odds are very good that it is 137. (For a mathematician, numerical passwords are often some combination of 6, 28 and 496 – can anyone guess why?)




0 = 0 base 2, = 0 base 10
2^1 = 10 base 2, = 2 base 10
2^2 = 100 base 2, = 8 base 10
2^3 = 1000 base 2, = 16 base 10

Hi BrittleRock,

You might want to correct this. 2 squared is 4, not 8, in base 10, and 2 cubed is 8, not 16 in base 10.

It’s a shame that the MF board system doesn’t let you go in and correct embarrassing oversights.



Oops . . .

Made an transcription error, hate it when I do that. Can’t edit the note.

2^2 is 100 base 2 (as stated), but = 4 base 10 rather than 8, similarly,
2^3 is 1000 base 2, but = 8 base, but = 8 base 10 rather than 16.

Thanks Saul for pointing this out.

One error twice corrected - Saul, I saw your email before I realized you had already posted the correction. So be it. TMF does not allow editing of posted notes nor deletion of superfluous notes.

(For a mathematician, numerical passwords are often some combination of 6, 28 and 496 – can anyone guess why?)


6 is 2^1 x 3
28 is 2^2 x 7
496 is 2^4 x 31.


6 is the sum of 1 to 3,
28 is the sum of 1 to 7,
492 is the sum of 1 to 31.

Nice little puzzle!!!