National Metric Day is October 10. Why? Because it’s 10/10 and the number 10 is pivotal to the metric system of course. National Metric Day is part of National Metric Week which runs October 10-14 this year (always the week that contains 10/10).
The metric system has its roots as far back as 1586 when Flemish mathematician Simon Stevin published a small pamphlet called De Thiende (“the tenth”). Stevin declared that using decimals was so important that it was only a matter of time before the world would standardize using decimals. But the metric system would have to wait until 1799 when it was first introduced by the French and it wasn’t sanctioned for use in the US until 1866. Still, it wasn’t popular until 1988 when US Congress passed the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act designating the metric system as the preferred system of weights and measures.
I remember learning the metric system in grade school. Perhaps I was one of the first classes to go through it. I remember thinking to myself – I’ll never need this again. Before the metric system it was certainly a lot easier to work on vehicles since you didn’t need to guess which system of measure to use before reaching for the socket set.
The metric system may not be entirely prevalent in our daily lives but there are many more items today that use the metric system than just a few years ago. We buy 2 liter soda pop. We watch our children run the 400 meter dash in track. And yes, we reach for the 10 mm socket when replacing a headlight on our vehicles.