28 Sep: Let’s Get Metric

Feet, inches, palms, cubits, rods… all were SWEPT ASIDE on 28th September, 1889, when the first General Conference of the Weights and Measures Commission met in Sèvres, France to refine a definition for the NEW universal measurement of distance: the metre.

The calculation was painstakingly made by measuring a quarter of the meridian of the Earth – running from the North Pole to the Equator – and then dividing it into 10 million parts. Metal bars measuring exactly one metre were then distributed to attendees of the Conference. 

In this episode Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider whether this scientific method of calculating distance was *really* any better than barleycorns and man-size hugs; ask why the USA still hasn’t got on-board with the metric system; and explain why Napoleon might not have been as short as we think he was… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Galileo, Krypton, and How the Metric Standard Came to Be’ (WIRED, 2018): https://www.wired.com/story/book-excerpt-the-perfectionists-history-meter/

• ‘How France created the metric system’ (BBC Travel, 2018): https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20180923-how-france-created-the-metric-system

• ‘Who Invented the Meter?’ (It’s Okay To Be Smart, 2017):