Patrick (patrickwonders) wrote,

Units of Measure

In a radio news story about the on-going drought, some water company representative said that last month's water usage (in whatever area he was talking about... I don't remember... it doesn't matter here...) was 300 million gallons.

We have many, many commonly used subdivisions of gallons:
  • 1/4th of a gallon is a quart
  • 1/2 of a quart is a pint
  • 1/2 of a pint is a cup
  • 1/8th of a cup is an ounce
  • 1/2 an ounce is a tablespoon
  • 1/3rd of a tablespoon is a teaspoon
We have many units of liquid measure larger than a gallon when it's wine or ale.
  • One rundlet is 18 gallons of wine
  • One firkin is 84 gallons of wine or 8 gallons of ale
  • One tierce is 42 gallons of wine
  • One barrel is 31.5 gallons of wine or 4 firkins of ale or 42 gallons of oil
  • One hogshead is 63 gallons of wine or 1.5 barrels of ale
  • One pipe is 1.5 firkins of wine
  • One tun is 2 pipes of wine
This is a total mess, especially needing to know if you're talking about wine versus ale.  But, if we're talking about hundreds of millions of gallons of water, shouldn't we have some unit bigger than a gallon?

Maybe millions of gallons would be used too infrequently for people to remember how many gallons are in the units.  But, I think we should start using metric prefixen:
  • 300 megagallons of water
  • 16 teradollars of national debt
  • 50.9 to 50.4 megavotes

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