The Return of the Yardstick

In 1834 the United Kingdom House of Parliament burned down. With it went the international base units of length and weight.

It took 21 years but they finally recreated the yard as a stick and one of them was sent to the United States.

This yard however was not perfect and was found to get shorter every year. In the states, the meter was still defined in terms of the yard.

Other countries already had a meter that was pretty steady. Eventually the American yard became based based on the meter. And as everyone knows, the meter was itself based on the wavelength of the 606 nanometer spectral line of a krypton-86 atom.

With those conversions in place, the rest of the world could continue doing business with the United States, and the Americans were free to live their lives ignoring all logical units of measurement because it was not worth the hassle of getting them to change.

But all was not well. The re-defining of the foot left a discrepancy between large amounts of existing survey data and the normal foot. So the “survey foot” was carried forward, a “hard fork” of the international foot.

Thankfully this survey foot is being phased out in 2022. I think this is a perfect time though to make some changes.

Fixing Everything

I propose a system of measurement called the American system, or perhaps something regarding eagles and freedom. It’s like the imperial-based system; but we’ve outgrown that name haven’t we?

Here is my proposal for a new system. An inch continues to be the inch as we know it now. Everyone knows the inch. But 12 in a foot is pesky. It’s hard to count multiples of 12 and we only have 10 glyphs to write numbers with.

So I propose: there should be 10 inches in a foot.

Think of the benefits. You could count a foot on two hands, and everybody suddenly gains about a foot in height.

If you were 5’11” in old units, you’d now be 7’1”.

Great. So what’s bigger than a foot? A yard. But three feet? Never have and never will need to divide anything by 3. The yard has always been causing problems. And as it is, it is basically a meter.

Proposal: a yard is 10 feet. And naturally a mile is 1000 feet.

Now a mile is the long side of the only unit of area understood by non-farmers: the American football field.

Everyone knows a football field is 100 yards long and 192 feet wide.

Traveling a mile takes 528% less time in this new system. If you can walk the length of a football field in 5 minutes, then that’s a 5 minute mile.

Your gas guzzling SUV now gets 132 miles to the gallon. They will need more carpool lanes.

Overall I think it’s a good time to make the move. If we were to have some silly non ten-based system it should at least be base 16.