The following metric cartoon was published on 2002 May 26 in the “Features for Kids” section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was mentioned (but not reprinted) in the 2002 Sep/Oct issue of Metric Today. The author is Jeff Harris who has written similar “Shortcuts” cartoons on other topics. The cartoon is used here with permission of the author.
The following metric cartoon was published on 1999 October 04 in the Buffalo (NY) News following the crash of NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter into the planet Mars. The cartoon was reprinted in the 1999 Nov/Dec issue of Metric Today with permission of the newspaper.
When the U.S. started conversion to the metric system in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, the following metric system cartoons appeared in trade magazines.
from Industry Week, 1981 November 30
from Hydrocarbon Processing, 1981 April
The following metric cartoon was published in 1971 in the comics section of many national newspapers. The author is Athelstan Spilhaus, Ph.D., former Dean of the Institute of Technology at the University of Minnesota from 1948 to 1966. While at Minnesota Dr. Spilhaus launched a weekly science-oriented comic strip called “Our New Age,” syndicated in more than 100 newspapers around the world from 1957 to 1973. A topic mentioned in more than one of his educational cartoons was the metric system. The color copy of the following cartoon was made available to USMA by Ernst Lange, formerly an engineer at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville AL. Mr. Lange was also head of the University of Alabama (Huntsville) Metric Information Office and has compiled the NASA reference bibliography: Information on the Metric System and Related Fields, NASA TM X-3449, in 1976.
Other copyrighted metric cartoons (not shown here):
The following metric cartoons (both pro and con) have appeared in numerous newspapers in the United States in recent years. Because these cartoons are copyrighted, they do not appear here, but some are accompanied by versions on the Web. If you know of additional cartoons, please contact the USMA Webmaster through the link at the bottom of this page.
Listed by: date, cartoonist; cartoon name (in italics), “narrative (in quotes)”:
- 1997-Jul-02, Keane,B.; Family Circus, “Look! A centimeter worm!”
- 1997-Sep-26, Foden,G.; Against the Grain, “The end of the metric system: Warning. Bridge clearance 3.1 meters.” [Men in truck labeled “Rocket Fuel”] “Let’s see… This rig is 11 ft high. That means… Hey Paul! Did you pack the conversion table?”
- 1998-Jul-28, Gilpin,J.; Blazek,D.; Loose parts, “Inch Worm Convention: Of course, if the metric system comes in, we’re finished.”
- 1998-Sep-29, Thaves,B.; Frank and Ernest, “Hi Ms. Inchworm, How’s the romance with that centipede? We broke up. He wanted me to convert to metric.”
- 1998-Oct-19?, Howard,G.; Sally Worth, “I can’t give half a liter. My body isn’t based on the metric system.”
- 1998-Nov-17, Gilpin,J.; Blazek,D.; Loose Parts, “Off Limits. Oh, that’s a very special place. It’s reserved for the person who invented the metric system.”
- 1999-Oct-06, Toles,T.; Toles, “Turn four furlongs to the east, then two rods to the right, seven fathoms stright ahead, a peck to the south – no, make that a pennyweight , thirteen cubits sideways, a hogshead down toward the final approach to the Martian surface…” [Byline:] “What’s a hogshead?” “The guy who wrote these instructions.”
- 1999-Oct-08, Auth,T.; Drawn and Quartered, [Mars Climate Orbiter disaster] “Metric, English, whatever…”
- 1999-Oct-??, Wasserman,D.; “NASA: Let’s see meters to feet…; feet to toes…; Houston we are the problem” [Mars Climate Orbiter disaster]
- 1999-Oct-16, Brookins,G.; “NASA: We’ve got to do something about quality control in engineering. You give ’em an inch, they’ll take a kilometer!” [Mars Climate Orbiter disaster]
- 2000-Aug-05, Coverly,D.; Speed Bump, “Looks like true love. In fact, I hear he converted to metric for her.”
- 2001-Jun-10, Blazek,D.; Loose Parts, “The inchworms at home: Mark…this literature…this tape measure…; Are…are you…thinking of going metric?”
- 2001-Jun-24, Amend,B.; Foxtrot, “They call it a quarter-pounder with cheese.”
- 2003-Aug-03, Amend,B.; Foxtrot, “Brrr! It’s 35 degrees! Celsius, you lunatic!”
- 2004-Dec-28, Keane,J.; Keane,B.; Family Circus, “Brr! I wouldn’t want to live in Celsius!”
- 2005-Apr-02, Mallett,J.; Frazz, “Jokes don’t work in metric, Frazz.”
- 2005-Nov-27, Young,D. ; Blondie, “And for another thing, the measurements were all in metrics”
- 2006-Apr-27, Piersanti,J.; Otto Mechanic, “Metric! I need metric, you fool! All these European models are metric!”
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