Letter | Published:

British and Metric Systems of Weights and Measures

Subjects

Abstract

ARE not those who discuss the relative claims of 4 mils and 5 mils as the substitute for the penny in a decimal division of the pound merely trying to minimise the disadvantages of what must in any case be a change for the worse? It seems that the advantage of any given system of weights or measures lies largely in the facilities that it offers for the division of a sum or quantity into equal parts. In this respect any decimal system is deficient by the absence of the factor 3, and by the frequency of the factor 5, which is of much less use than 4 for practical purposes. The reductio ad absurdum of the metric system seemed to be reached in the issue in Portugal some years ago of a 2½ reis postage stamp (they now call it ¼-cent). A rei is one-thousandth part of a milrei or dollar, about equal to one-twentieth of a penny—surely a small enough unit for any purpose, and vet it is found necessary to halve it!

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