From the obscure units file December 2, 2010Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, math.
Tags: babylonian units, degrees, radians
In the first few days of my complex analysis class, the professor asked a question pertaining to a measurement of the unit circle in the complex plain. The student, an electrical engineer, gave the answer in degrees.
The professor then scared the whole class half to death by booming, “We do not use Babylonian units in this class!”
This seems almost like a hopeless version of my discussion of annoying units from earlier: there is no way that expressing angular span in terms of degrees is going to change in the near future. The practice is too ingrained, particularly in astronomy and electrical engineering.
Whenever someone gives an angle in degrees, I immediately recall my professor and laugh a little bit. Then I quickly feel guilty and have to mentally make the conversion to radians.