The Metric System
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The Metric System


In 1799 France adopted a system of measurement that avoided many of the problems of other systems. This system of measurement was called the metric system.

This system became very popular and many nations accepted this system as their unit of measurement. There are only two countries today that have not accepted the metric system and one of those countries is, yes, the United States.

The metric system is used in a lot of things we see and use everyday. For instance, in the Olympics one might swim the 100-meter free style event. You might also need 35-millimeter film for your 35-millimeter camera. In the United States the metric system is used but the United States has not officially accepted the metric system as the main system of measurement.

Since 1799 the metric system has had some changes and will probably continue to change though out the years to come. In 1875 several nations formed the General Conference on Weight and Measures, which promotes the adoption of standard units of weight and measurement by all countries of the world. Sometimes the standard unit has to be redefined or recreated ones.

In 1960, the International Committee on Weight and Measures embraced a modern version of the metric system called System of International Units. Its abbreviation is SI. This abbreviation is used in all countries there are no other ways to abbreviate SI. It is also important to know that SI is just another name for the metric system and that the two are the same. There are seven base units of the metric system. They are as follows:

SI termWhat it DoesAbbreviation
Meterfor length
Kilogramfor mass; applied
to weight in every-
day terms
Kelvin temperature
Ampereelectric current
Moleamount of substance

Other metric units can be defined in terms of the meter or kilogram. Fractions and multiples of the metric units are related to each other by the power of 10, allowing conversion from unit to a multiple of it simply by shifting a decimal point. For example, a kilometer is equal to one thousand meters and conversely a meter is equal to one thousandth of a kilometer, or 0.001km.

Now that you have the history and important information about the metric system are you ready to convert? Well why not practice and see how simple conversion of the metric system is and you will love its simplicity and will demand conversion that day.

Contributed by Lucrecia Scott


  4. Rahn, J. E. (1976). The Metric System.