Oregon daily emerald. (Eugene, Or.) 1920-2012, June 26, 1975, Page 8, Image 8

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    (CPS)—The U.S. is one of only
eight countries left in the world
which has not switched over to a
system of metric measurements.
Along with such backwaters as
Tona, Gambia, Yeman and Bar
bados, the U.S. still clings to the
feet and pounds of the English
Metrication is the process of
switching over to the metric sys
tem, which is based on a single
measurement that is either multi
plied or divided by powers to
measure everything.
When conversion comes, it will
drastically affect how things are
measured in the U.S. Distances
will be measured in kilometers,
weights in grams and kilograms,
temperatures in degrees Celsius
and so on.
Congress has toyed with metri
cation since the time of Thomas
Jefferson, but in the last few
years, as the other industrialized
countries of the world have
switched to the metric system
pressure has grown on America to
Now, a number of American
companies with international
markets have begun measuring
things metrically, and Congress
may be close to using its constitu
tional power over weights and
Everything for the ARTISTS and ARCHITECTS
Please show card I our
before purchase I /W reg. prices
Just a few blocks from campus
$10 million education bill will
prepare students for change to
international metric system
measures to mandate a conver
sion nationwide.
One of the surest signs of
change can be seen in the educa
tion bill passed by Congress and
signed into law last fall, which
specifically states that the use of
the metric system in the U.S. is "in
evitable” and will “become the
dominant system of weights and
measures." The bill authorizes
$10 million to help "prepare stu
dents to use the metric system of
“Contrary to popular belief, this
is not something we will decide
whether to do or not,” said Rep.
J.J. Pickle (D-TX), a metrication
supporter. “The change is already
taking place.”
There are now seven bills be
fore the House and Senate cal
ling for a conversion to the metric
system over a rough timetable of
ten years. The principal legisla
tion, offered by Sen. Claiborne
Pell (D-RI), calls for the estab
lishment of a National Metric Con
version Board which would plan
and oversee U.S. conversion.
0S cD&M
Those working with the plans
for metrication feel that the build
ing industry will be the first to con
vert. Great Britain and Canada,
two fairly recent additions to the
metric fold, keyed the start of their
conversion programs in this area.
‘The building industry touches
on so many aspects of the
economic life of the country,”
noted Charles Mahaffey, a build
ing technologist for the National
Bureau of Standards (NBS) who is
working closely with the problem
of metric conversion.
“There’s hardly anything you
can talk about in the whole U S
economy that doesn’t somehow
relate to building,” said Mahaffey.
"Because of its great cross
sectional value, (those favoring
metrication) think that if they can
tackle this problem, they can
handle anything.”
Canada has set January 1,
1978 as the start of their formal
conversion to metric in the build
ing industry, and testimony on the
Pell bill revealed that some ex
perts think the U.S. can match that
date, since the toughest bugs
have already been worked out by
Canada, Great Britain and Au
“All we have to do is take their
program, polish it up and stick it on
our end," said Mahaffey.
For the average American,
however, the difficulty has been in
learning the new system. For ex
ample, in a survey of home
economists conducted in 1970.it
was discovered that the more
knowledgeable people were
about the metric system the more
receptive they were to conversion.
According to the NBS Metric In
formation office, 43 states have
taken some sort of formal action to
prepare for metric conversion and
its education process. California,
New Jersey and Maryland are
among the pioneers. They will
begin teaching metrics in public
schools statewide by 1976.
“I want education to keep a
breast of the times for once. If we
can catch youngsters now, that's
one whole generation we won’t
have to unlearn,” California
Superintendent of Public Instruc
tion Wilson Riles told Newsweek.
As for the rest of us, we ll even
tually have to master the art of
thinking metrically.
"Any kind of change is fright
ening,” noted Mary Lou Chap
man, a consumer consultant in
Colorado. "We can learn some
thing very new, very easily-it s
forgetting the old that is tough."
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