There’s been a lot of news lately about Elon Musk and his attempts to make space travel to and from Mars commonplace. Elon Musk is the founder of SpaceX. This is a private company that is making some amount of money by carrying payloads to the International Space Station (ISS). But make no mistake, Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. Part of his rationale is that by colonizing Mars, humankind is becoming much less likely to become extinct due to some large asteroid hit.
The Mars news is recent, but the attempts to coerce … well, okay, to convince Americans to use the metric system goes back to the 1970s. I know. I was there. I remember the Major League Baseball stadiums with metric markings on the home run walls. And of course, the Toronto Blue Jays use metric. How far was that home run? In Detroit, 340 feet. In Toronto? It’s 103.6 meters. Okay, I don”t know how the Canadians round off. I’d say they arrange their wall in meters. Can we get some Canadian contractor to comment? Why is this important?
Let’s not forget the Mars Climate Orbiter, a spacecraft that was lost as it closed in on Mars because Lockheed Martin, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and NASA were using metric and English measurement systems. The spacecraft got 100 kilometers too close to Mars before firing retro-thrusters. The result? The spacecraft either burned up and bounced off the atmosphere and is now orbiting the sun, lifeless.
After the Mars Climate Orbiter fiasco, NASA went pure metric. I’d say it’s time for America as a culture to go metric. We need it to train people for the upcoming Mars missions. And moreover, metric is easier. Sure, for the short term, people will be a bit confused. Kilometers? Are they about the same as miles? (Answer is, 1 mile = 1.6 kilometer. So, 70 miles an hour on the highway is 112 kilometers an hour.) Here’s my rule of thumb: when converting miles to kilometers, just multiply by 2 and subtract 10 percent. Maybe the new president-elect will be a good businessman for America and make us convert to metric. It’d be good for business. And for us, too, as people.