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Generic units of measure

Customary units of measure such as the foot and the pound are suitable for everyday purposes such as measuring the dimensions of a person or a room. Metric (SI) units of measure such as the Kelvin and the kilogram are suitable for scientific purposes. Some metric units are suitable for everyday use, and they are so used in many countries.

However, there are some draw-backs to metric units for everyday purposes, for example: the SI unit of temperature is the kelvin (K) which does not relate to the temperatures of everyday life (even the related degrees Celsius compresses surface air temperatures into a narrow band); the kilometre is rather short compared with a mile; and the kilogram is large compared with a pound (500 g is sometimes used).

The purpose of this post is to explore a generic system of units that would be suitable for both everyday and scientific usage.

Start with temperature. For scientific purposes, the absolute minimum temperature is an important limit, so it should be set to zero or some multiple of 1000. The triple point of water is meaningful for both scientific and everyday usage. These two points suggest a scale with the absolute minimum set to –1000 degrees, and the triple point of water set to 0 degrees. One generic degree equals 0.27315 K. So a value of 100 equals 27 ºC or 81 ºF.

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