Pounds, Kilos and Newtons

by Everett L. Boyd, (F.ASCE), Consulting Engrg.; Healdsburg, CA,


Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 9, Pg. 72-73


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: In the U.S., an aura of mystery, like the glamour afforded the medieval priest by his mastery of Latin, surrounds the Système International. This unreasonable awe, largely generated by persons in industry over the past 20 years, must soon be dispelled when acceptance of SI becomes inevitable. Civil engineers who are confronting SI for the first time may encounter difficulties that, in fact are not part of the actual system. Most published material on the subject is, in computer jargon, user-hostile. It lacks general explanation, misuses vocabulary or uses one word to mean different things. Conversion tables are frequently incomplete, difficult to interpret or simply misleading. Boyd offers three rules that might help: 1) regard SI as a decimal system that draws on past systems; 2) watch your language; 3) learn the new language.

Subject Headings: Metric systems | Civil engineering | International factors

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