[OPE-L:2036] RE: Re: Units of measure

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Wed Jan 05 2000 - 11:27:39 EST

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Thanks to Paul for this reminder

> Watt introduced a purely notional horse into the measurement. He posited a
> horse
> able to lift 3390lbs through a distance of 1 foot in a minute.
        whose content further reminds me to recommend Witold Kula's
"Measures and Man" to list members.

        In the present context the most striking feature of Kula's book is
his demonstration that the size of a whole series of basic units (of length,
area, and volume) traditionally varied in time and place according to the
productivity of (human) labour.

        Thus length and area units were based on how much ground one worker
could plough in a day, and hence were bigger in districts where labour was
more productive. Likewise, volume measures were based on the output from a
unit of land, as defined above. Hence a bushel of wheat (in a given
district) would be a different volume to that for oats.


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