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weights & measures

weights & measures

Statue of Charlemagne.  The length of his foot was the original standard for a foot (mharrsch@Flickr)
Statue of Charlemagne. The length of his foot was the original standard for a foot (mharrsch@Flickr)
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All In Good Measure

Most of the world goes with the metric system, but here in America we just don’t want to budge from an inch, a foot, and a yard.  Before measurements were standardized, they were based on different parts of the human body.  The problem is people come in different sizes so the standard in the Middle Ages was to use the measurements of the current ruler of a country or empire.  And they changed every time a new ruler took power.

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Getty Images
Getty Images
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Dale’s Daily Data: Egyptian Mouthful

The United States sets the pace for the world in so many areas of science and discovery, but is probably the most backward in terms of weights and measures.  While the rest of the world has adopted the metric system, the United States continues to use a system that’s so antiquated, our system of measuring volume and liquids goes back to ancient Egypt.  It was a system used in England for 500 years and brought to colonial America.  It’s based on the Egyptian mouthful and the custom of doubling each measure to find the next one. 

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