When did Star Trek start using Metric system

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by jefferiestubes8, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. jefferiestubes8

    jefferiestubes8 Commodore Commodore

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    In 1966 did Star Trek use the Imperial measurement system or Metric?

    If not metric when did they start using Metric? During TOS or during the feature films?

    Or during TNG?
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The original series used metric measurements all along, starting with the second pilot (Kelso saying that the beacon they picked up was one meter in diameter), but they also frequently used Imperial measurements such as miles. It depended on the episode, generally, although there were cases where both measurement systems were used in the same episode (or even in the same scene, as in "The Corbomite Maneuver," when Spock said the Fesarius "must be a mile in diameter" immediately before Bailey said it was "over five thousand meters away").

    So really, it's not a question of when they started using metric as when they stopped using Imperial. I think they pretty much phased out Imperial measurements by TNG at the latest.
     
  3. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Do I recall correctly that for the aborted 1977 'Phase II' series, there was a document (either in the series bible, or a memo that circulated?) where they nutted out these things and instructed the series' writers to use metric measurements? So that'd probably be the first time it was 'nailed down', so to speak. It would also coincide with the US Government's own (ultimately failed) attempts to institute the metric system more generally in the mid 1970s. Although I'm led to understand that 'officially' the metric system is actually used in the States for a wide variety of things, including in the sciences.
     
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  4. trekyourself

    trekyourself Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    In canada we use a mishmash. Anything official is expressed in metric. Same with blueprints. But heights and weights are used in imperial even though we're supposed to use metric, I think mostly die to our proximity to the states. I think of TOS as being somewhat the same.
     
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  5. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's generally the same as that in Britain, but here in Australia we sold out the Imperial system wholesale, and we measure nearly everything in Metric. Although people of an older generation will still prefer to use Imperial because it's what they're used to. ;)

    I think one of the very few examples I can think of where Metric isn't used in Australia is measuring screens, like TVs and computer monitors and things like that. But that's rare.
     
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  6. Karp666

    Karp666 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I think that's a common thing everywhere - screens are measured in inches here in Poland too, even though we've never used imperial.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually, no. The section on "Measurements" in the Phase II bible is merely a slightly shorter version of the same section from the season-2 revision of the TOS bible, which states that they use metric (or light years/parsecs) for precise measurements and formal reports of information, but that more familiar units like miles can be used in vernacular, private conversation, or exclamations to make things clearer to the audience. So it was "nailed down" no later than April 1967.

    The metric system has been the official measurement system of the United States since 1893. That's not a typo -- eighteen ninety-three. And ever since 1959, Imperial units have been legally defined based on metric units. The legal definition of a foot is 0.3048 meters. The legal definition of a pound is 453.59237 grams. Metric is the baseline.

    Internationally, almost every country in the world uses the metric system (or rather, the International System of Units) as their primary, official measurement system; the US, Myanmar, and Liberia are the only countries in the world that don't mandate its use in official contexts, although the UK still makes some official use of Imperial measurements. Metric is the universal measurement system of science, engineering, medicine, global commerce, etc.
     
  8. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    I'm an American and thanks to Sodas being sold in liters, I can handle that, and I'm a dental technician which is pretty scientific and everything is measured with millimeters and grams so I can handle that. But temperatures still throw me off. I realize that Celsius makes more sense than Fahrenheit, but I just don't hardly use it so I don't really know it.

    As for Trek, the book, The Making of Star Trek goes into this. Evidently the policy in the '60's was to favor the metric system but then use Imperial for any time the writers needed the audience to really grasp something. Which wasn't so often. but it turned up from time to time.

    I can't recall much use of Imperial in the TNG+ shows, though I do recall a scene where a Romulan defector was aboard the Enterprise getting frustrated at the replicator for not being able to recognize a Romulan temperature scale. What always got me is that the computer specified that it could only use Celsius or Fahrenheit, which struck me as odd that there were no other alien metrics available. I mean, the scene effectively showed us a character who was truly out of his element in even the littlest details, but didn't make a ton* of sense in-universe to me.

    --Alex

    (Post script: Christopher ninja'd me on some of these points.)


    *Metric ton or Imperial ton? You decide!
     
  9. Thot Tnak

    Thot Tnak Captain Red Shirt

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    A bit off-topic, but even the Star Wars universe largely uses the metric system through the Galactic Empire and New Republic. Alien terms are used here and there sparingly while some things are not clearly defined like monetary credits and propulsion (MGLT). When in doubt, SW writers use Standard Units...
     
  10. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Of course, it's a common thing everywhere, but I meant in the context of Australia, we use metric for everything but TV screens are a rare example where we do not. ;)
     
  11. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I always kind of figured that certain phrases stuck around long after official use in the Trek universe. Like "They're miles away!" is just an exclamation, not a statement of fact.

    Does Trek ever use imperial measurements in an official capacity?
     
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  12. Thot Tnak

    Thot Tnak Captain Red Shirt

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    Human height in feet and inches?
     
  13. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I like that as an explanation. :)
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In-universe, it could be that Imperial units are a thing of the not-so-recent past, meaning our heroes are a bit rusty in applying them. Those "official" human height measures in "Where No Man" appear quite erroneous, as if written before it was known which actors would be cast and what footwear they would be given. ;) And an "ounce" of antimatter doesn't make an ounce of sense in "Obsession"...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    IIRC isn't it claimed in Gambit that Picard is more than two meters tall? Suggesting the writers didn't have too good a grasp of the system or everyone in the future is a giant.
     
  16. Thot Tnak

    Thot Tnak Captain Red Shirt

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    In "The Doomsday Machine," atmospheric pressure aboard the Constellation is reported as "eleven pounds per square inch."
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ..While in "The Galileo Seven" we get the rather nonsensical "pounds psi" to indicate the fuel remaining in the tanks of the shuttle. Might be the names for outdated units have been recycled for some completely novel, SI-compatible uses.

    Well, the bartender estimating Picard's/Galen's supposed height is an alien. Perhaps "two meters" or thereabouts isn't all that typical for his bar (even though he himself is just a tad below that), there being much more variety there - so it becomes useful to specify two meters as opposed to one or three, and mere finesse to worry whether it's 2.0 or 1.75 meters. :vulcan: :p

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. Retu

    Retu Commander Red Shirt

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    Slightly off topic. Same trend is going on in Star Trek: Online game. Have you ever tried to create a character that's average height, ie. around 1.6-1.8m tall? You'll quickly notice that the NPCs really are in 2+ meter range. :)