Basic math

Last Edited By Krjb Donovan
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2014 07:55 PM GMT

Question

QUESTION: Why would the English system of units be more useful if a foot contained 10 inches? Use a math example and write out a clear reason.

It has been over 15 years since I have tackled mathematics. The highest math that I have taken is geometry, which was an experience in itself. Nevertheless, I have attempted to answer the question to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, the only thing that I recall is 12 inches equals a foot. I do not know how to convert it or provide an example or reason.

Answer:

The metric system is used worldwide as a system of units, not only in science but also in engineering, business, sports, and daily life. In the English system of units the fundamental unit of length is the foot, composed of 12 inches. The metric system is based on the decimal system of numbers, and the fundamental unit of length is the meter, composed of 100 centimeters. Because the metric system is a decimal system, it is easy to express quantities in larger or smaller units as is convenient.

Reference: Seeds, Michael A. (2008). Horizons: Exploring the Universe, 10th Ed.

ANSWER: I see you may want another explanation. The metric system is what you should like. As explained above, multiples of ten are the main reason it is the most popular system. But one clarification on if it would be simpler if the English system had only 10 inches is needed. It would not be necessary since we already have a system based on ten (metric). However, the English system is used in carpentry, architecture and even engineering in the US. To suddenly change the system would be confusing. In carpentry for example, the system of having ? and one quarter, etc as units is useful in the fact that fractional units can be one half the size of the next higher or lower unit. Also the foot has 12 inches and a lot of our construction techniques and standards are based on this. It is actually more of a base 2 system, with doubling being the basic quantity of increase, and tripling being the secondary quantity and squaring and cubing being the main functions. It makes sense if you think two and three dimensionally respectively. My reference is personal experience.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Mr. Martinez

Thank you for your quick repsonse.

I would like to clarify the second part of the question. (Perhaps I am making it more complicated than it is).

Use a math example and write out a clear reason.

In carpentry for example, the system of having ? and ?, etc. etc. as units is useful in the fact that fractional units can be one half the size of the next higher or lower unit. A foot has 12 inches and a lot of construction techniques and standards are based on this concept. It is actually more of a base 2 system, with doubling being the basic quantity of increase, and tripling being the secondary quantity and squaring and cubing being the main functions. It makes sense if you think two and three dimensionally respectively.

If I double 1/2 (equal one) and triple 1/4 (equal 1 1/4). Is that a clear reason or am I missing the mark?


Answer

First check your math above. 3 times 1/4 equals 3/4, but that is not important now.

In general I refer to a wall being 8 feet tall by 12 feet wide as having an area of 96 square feet and a room with the same wall and a length 12 feet having a volume of 1152 cubic feet.

In carpentry, numbers in the series 2,3,4,6,8,12,16,24, etc. play an important part in this system. Like the metric system, these numbers are easy to play with in your head, without the use of a calculator (for some people). Frequently you will need to cut something in half. That is a very easy operation. Even if the object is a strange size, figuring out half is easy.

What is half of 10 and 5/8 inches? It is half of ten, which is five, and half of 5/8 which is 5/16 which you would easily know if you use these figures daily. So the answer is 5 and 5/16ths inches. In metric you would have to answer what is half of 10.625? Arguably just as easy to answer without a calculator. I hope these examples are what you wanted. If not, I probably am not understanding the question yet, sorry. But I'd be happy to try one more time.

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