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History of Measurment - Essay Example

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Even though early Babylonian and Egyptian records show that there have been measuring systems long before 3000 B.C., the earliest standardized measurement belonged to the Egyptians. In order to have a standard length for a cubit, the length from the elbow to the extended fingertips, the Egyptians created a black granite rod of the royal cubit, placed in the city square…
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History of Measurment
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Download file to see previous pages The Egyptians were not able to monopolize the measuring system. The Babylonians also devised measures stemming from a cubit, though 6 mm longer than that of the Egyptians. This cubit was then divided into 30 kus, roughly equal to a digit.
The earliest known decimal system is the Harappan system; from 2500 B.C. to 1700 B.C. Evidence suggests that they had two different series of weights. One system was based on a measurement of the Indus inch (1.32 modern inches). Since their system was based on base-10, ten Indus inches equaled 13.2 inches, the measure of a foot. The other scale was discovered in the form of a bronze rod with markings of 0.367 in. 100 units of that would be 36.7 inches, approximately the length of a stride. Measurements of the Harappan ruins show that they used these measurements extremely accurately.
European systems of measurement were based on the Roman system. The Romans, in turn, borrowed their measurements from the Greeks, who had based it on the Babylonians and the Egyptians. Their base unit was the breadth of a finger. Unlike the other cultures, they only had three widely used units of measurement: the finger, the foot and the Greek cubit. The Greeks also standardized weight by stabilizing the size of containers to weigh goods and by creating a standard set of measures. The Romans changed the Greek system slightly, by creating the pace, equal to five feet. Thousand paces was a Roman mile, extraordinarily close to the modern British mile.
It was in 1672, that Sir Isaac Newton actually made a vital discovery about the "Newton Rings" which actually used light to measure distances. Neither he nor the world at large understood the great implications of it, and today "interferometry" as it is called helps measure precise distances to within millionths of an inch or a millimeter.
The French, on the other hand, used a bewildering array of measures. Standardization was a big problem since no one could come to an agreement. As late as 1788 Arthur Young wrote in "Travels during the years 1787, 1788, 1789" published in 1793, "In France the infinite perplexity of the measures exceeds all comprehension. They differ not only in every province, but also in every district and almost every town".
The English though tried to standardize as early as in the 13th century, by England issuing a royal ordinance "Assize of Weights and Measures" to bring some unity. Wren had proposed a new system based on the yard defined as the length of a pendulum beating at the rate of one second in the Tower of London. Britain and Scotland uniting ensured a better prevalence for the system but it was hard when each province wanted its own system followed. In 1824, the English Parliament legalized the yard that was first proposed in 1760.

In 1870 the French in Paris convened an International Conference with the aim of improving international scientific cooperation by having the metric system as the worldwide standard. This resulted in seventeen nations signing up and later a few more nations joining in and kind of standardized the metric system.
US though were influenced by the colonists who brought with various measurements from their places of origin and for a long time it was an array of measurements. In 1821 John Quincy Adam for the first person to propose to the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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