Sunday, April 06, 2008

How Do I Convert Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

In the case of number conversions one size does not fit all. Which is part of the problem. There is no single measurement system that is universally used around the globe. Yes, the Metric system is the predominate system but did you know there are variations?

Living in America tends to metrically separate us from the rest of the world. Did you buy a liter of water or a little more than a quart of water? So in the spirit of moving us metrically forward here are a few web sites to add to your Ready Reference list.

Online Conversions Calculators

The big daddy of them all is Online Conversions. It has all of the basic conversions such as temperature, speed and weight but it also has converters for energy, flow rates, frequency, light and 50,000 other means of transferring data from one system to another.

You type in the value, select the system you want to convert from and the one you want to convert to and you have your answer in a blink of an eye. Which I sure can be measured for speed but I don't know how.

Other sites that perform similar functions include:
  • Martindale's Online Calculators with 23,000+ methods of calculations including Agricultural, Gems and Jewry, Medicine Photography, Scientific and many more calculators and converters.
  • RefDesk has a Weights and Measure Resource page with links to time zones, periodic tables, currency converters and related topics.
  • MegaConverter and Mega Converter2 allows you to perform many of the same type of conversions but there is an added bonus on the resource page. You can download an Excel spreadsheet that has ancient or obsolete measurement systems.
Units of Measure Dictionary

Russ Rowlett of the University of North Caroline has a Dictionary of Units of Measurement page. It is kind of like a mini history or number word etymology of different number systems. It is old school in appearance but I now know what a Pfiff is and a Zoll is 1/12 of a fuss.

How Big Is Big?

If you have ever seen The Incredible Shrinking Man you know the answer is relative to your position in the universe. Nikon is a primarily a photography and image processing company. They created a section on their website to give people to get a sense of scale when it comes to size and the relationship to other objects. I suppose it is a way of converting the words we use to describe size and dimension into a graphical representation.

The Universcale is a Flash 6 animation that allows you to see size in relation to other objects. It is a little tricky to get use to but if you click on an object it will give you its size and the relationship to other objects that are larger and smaller. You can also move through a size scale or a measurement scale to compare a Double Decker bus with a jet airplane or a dinosaur.

This would be a great site for children but they would need a little navigational help first.

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