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From the obscure units file December 2, 2010

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, math.
Tags: , ,

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.



1. FrauTech - December 2, 2010

I never thought of degrees as being outdated. I can’t even imagine how that would go over at work, “that hose fitting with the pi angle”. Whenever I use non-SI units HerrTech always asks me “yeah, but how many Libraries of Congress is that?” I guess it’s a slashdot joke. A lot of my fellow students make negative comments being forced to use non-SI (and I’ll admit when I do my calcs I switch over to SI as well) but when the military REQUIRES everything in inches/lbs/etc it contributes heavily to those units still being out there.


mareserinitatis - December 3, 2010

I *really* wish they’d get rid of non-SI units. I go nuts at work because when we’re doing PCB stuff, we use imperial units, and package work is usually in metric. 😛

What really makes me crazy is that copper thickness is measured in ounces…the thickness of one ounce of copper over one square foot is approximately 35 microns. I wish they’d just say “35 micron thick copper” because when they say one ounce copper, I have to mentally make the conversation anyway so that I know how thick our boards will be.


2. Outnumbered « FCIWYPSC - January 5, 2012

[…] After doing the prep, I’m SO glad that we don’t use the Babylonian system.  Base 60?!  No wonder my math professor got annoyed when we used degrees. […]


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