Weighty matters

 

A chara, – I began school in the mid-1980s and I am certain that we were only ever taught the metric system in maths, science, and geography. I did metalwork class for three years and we only measured pieces of metal in metric units. Why is that schools have been teaching the metric system since the 1970s but the media in Ireland have not been able to make the switch?

The decision by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to uphold the use of imperial units for weights on the programme Operation Transformation is unfortunate and sends out the wrong message to Irish people (“Operation Transformation doesn’t need to lose stones and pounds, says regulator”, Business, September 23rd).

Why is that people can cope with buying litres of milk and car fuel but cannot cope with weighing themselves in kilograms? Is it really that difficult to make the leap from having a kilogram bag of sugar but impossible to weigh a person in kilograms?

The metric system has two huge advantages over any other system. First, it is entirely logical and simple to understand and use. The imperial system is a hodge-podge of irregular units and sizes. Second, the metric system is used in most countries in the world, with the notable exception of the US. Irish people should be able use the metric system when travelling abroad or when doing business with other countries.

The Irish media needs to leave the stone age and enter the 21st century.– Is mise,

SEANÁN Ó COISTÍN,

Trier,

Germany.

Sir, – While I cannot agree that RTÉ was “undermining the authority of the State” in using stones and pounds in Operation Transformation, kilograms have been used in Irish schools since at least the 1980s.

Most of the people I know who take health and fitness seriously use kilograms to track their body mass index, to select a category for rowing or combat sports, or even to calculate a power-to-weight ratio for cycling.

Would it be to hard for RTÉ to lead by example and display a metric equivalent on the screen? There is nothing intuitive about stones, and I can’t think of a product currently sold in stones. – Yours, etc,

MATTHEW GLOVER,

Lucan,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s decision is a victory for common sense.

People in everyday life still refer to pounds and stones in relation to their weight. Horse-racing still uses miles and furlongs. And who orders 0.56 litres instead of a pint? Should we change Robert Frost’s “And miles to go before I sleep” to 1.6 kilometres? No.

The metric system is widely used. That’s a good thing. But the older system still exists in everyday speech. The decision of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland reflects this reality. – Yours, etc,

CATHERINE MURPHY,

Dublin 8.