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The History Of The S.I. System Of Units

The metric system began as the legal system of measurement in France during the 1800's. It was designed to replace the misunderstood and mixed-up units that were in use at the time.

Despite wars and international rivalries, the metric system has slowly spread throughout the world, although not all countries have completely adopted it. For example, England is only just changing weight system over to metric (as part of the formation of the European Union). The United States of America measure almost everything using the older imperial system of measurements, which includes things like the foot (for distance) and the pound (for weight). However, scientists in both countries use the metric system when communicating with the international scientific community.

Some Significant Dates

6th century BC
In Egypt, the "cubit" was widely used as a standard measurement of length. It was equivalent to the length of a man's arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. But which man? (not all cubits were equal).

Metric system began in France

Metric system established as the legal system of measurement in France

S.I. units adopted by the General Conference on Weights and Measures -- the sixth such conference since 1840. The International System was a modern form of the metric system.

Australian pharmaceuticals industry converted to the metric system

Decimal currency introduced in Australia

1971 - 1982
Conversion to metric system in Australia - one industry after another

S.I. established in Australia as the "main" language of measurement; most countries had already converted or were in the process of converting.

If you would like more information about the history of measurement in Australia, here are some books you could consult.

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