Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/101

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METRIC REFORM.

planatory. The base-units may be represented, for example, as follows:

That of length, by a straight line, graduated, to distinguish it from minus.

Surface, by a square.
Solid cube or block.
Capacity cup.
Weight pound-weight.
Money coin, stamped.
Angle two lines, meeting.
Time waving line.

We only suggest, and do not expand.

The substance of the foregoing suggestions, summed up, is as follows:

Adhering to the metric system as a basis—its modification by the following features:

1. The entire abandonment of the present elaborate and ingenious system of nomenclature, and of any attempt at universality in the words employed to designate the units of the system.

2. The expression of each unit by each nation in its own vernacular tongue—the units themselves being the same everywhere, but the expression in language adapted to the familiar tongue of each people.

3. A common notation as the means of universality, instead of a common system of names, the units and their written expression being thus universally the same, while the spoken expression conforms to familiar national usages.

4. The words selected to express the several units to be suggestive of easy standards of comparison with familiar objects.

5. The notation also to be suggestive to the eye, as the nomenclature heretofore in use was to the learned ear, but not to the unlearned.

6. The number of denominations to be reduced in conformity with an observed tendency among men to use numbers instead; oral expression to be simplified; and a suitable actual system of notation suggested.

7. The transition to the new system to involve the least practicable loss of familiarity—either with familiar objects or familiar names.

These modifications adapt the metric system to the needful human conditions. Accepting its solutions of the natural conditions, they conserve all that is really valuable, and reject only what is cumbrous. The metric nomenclature is quite as unphilosophical as the English scales; both are fit only for decent burial. The real desideratum is to reduce to a minimum the difficulty of introducing the new units. Can the transition be better effected than on the foregoing principles?

This ponderous and scattered human family—a huge class of grown pupils, not gathered into school-room, nor used to formal instruction—-