Science: Getting the U.S. to Measure Up

In the drive to adopt metric, Americans are dragging their feet

In a spasm of reforming zeal, the Federal Highway Administration in 1976 announced that it was thinking of changing all signs on the nation's interstates from miles to kilometers. After receiving nearly 5,000 letters of protest, the FHA quickly abandoned the scheme.

Though Congress in 1975 legislated a gradual and voluntary changeover in weights and measures, nothing seems harder to do than to get Americans to adopt metric, the system used by all the world except Brunei, Burma, North and South Yemen—and the U.S. In 1977, a Gallup poll found Americans...

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