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Missing The Metric System

A slashdot thread last week [http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/06/23/0044259] reported how all too often mathematical conversions can go wrong. In this case, Spaceship One thought they were 100km above the ground to claim the X-Prize when they weren’t. Strikes a similar chord to the Apollo 13 square peg to fit round hole problem. Indeed, one of NASA’s less-than-stellar conversion problems really did occur because half a Mars orbiter was constructed in inches and the other in centimeters [http://www.cnn.com/TECH/space/9909/30/mars.metric.02/]. And indeed, one guy [http://lava.net/~djb/meter.html] has found a couple of dozen metre to inch conversions on the web with different results.

I wonder how you can take advantage of poor conversions rather than suffer their consequences. One story told the tale of a student who wanted to use Euros in London the first day they were issued. Due to a currency exchange flaw at one store, he always got given the wrong change in pounds sterling and made money with every transaction. Wonder what else is out there?

Posted on June 30, 2004   #Brainjuice  

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