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The more things change

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How many furlongs are in a fortnight?

By John Pawlak

It’s human nature to cling to the familiar. We look at the way things are and we are comforted by the fact that things have always been this way and they’ll always stay this way.  
Things that cost more are always better than things that cost less. Chicken soup will always cure any illness. The Earth has always revolved around the Sun.  
And men have always been smarter than women (just don’t tell my wife I said that.)
Life just seems to make more sense when we ignore the simple fact that things do change.
One of my favorite subjects of change is standard units of measure. Take the inch for example. What could be more firmly rooted in history than the common inch?
Throughout our lives, we’ve inched toward our goals.  
We gave someone an inch, they took a mile. We’ve come within an inch of our sanity. At times, we’ve refused to budge an inch!  Yes, an inch is an inch is an inch. Unless of course you’re talking about Nine Inch Nails.
I used to think it was an incredible coincidence that an inch was equal to exactly 2.54 centimeters.  I mean, why not 2.541 cm? I assumed that 2.54 cm was an approximation.


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