Metric system


Metric system

The book of science

Tom Sharp

John Wilkins (and the French Revolution) metrology

Metric system




Metric prefixing

Florence Pretz of Kansas City invented the Billiken in 1908 as “the god of things as they ought to be.” Establishing the metric system was a success against things as they ought not be. So many other aspects of our lives are more irrational and heterogeneous.

After the French revolution, the Commission of Weights and Measures included the Marquis de Condorcet, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Adrien-Marie Legendre, Antoine Lavoisier, and Jean-Charles de Borda. The proper name for the modern metric system is the International System of Units, or, in French, le Système International d’Unités, with the abbreviation SI.

The meter preceded both John Wilkins’ work and the French revolution. Marin Mersenne measured the length of the seconds pendulum in 1644; the Royal Society proposed that it should be the standard unit of length in 1660; Tito Livio Burattini proposed that it should be called a meter in 1675.

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