Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

which result was adopted by the legislative body on the 4th Messidor of the year VII (June 22, 1799).

The same measure of length served also as a basis for establishing the unit of weight called a gram, adopted by the law of the 18th Germinal, Year III. This is the weight, in a vacuum, of a cubic centimeter of distilled water taken at its maximum density, which corresponds to the temperature of 1 centigrade above zero.

The expressive nomenclature with its concise prefixes, the ascending and descending series of multiples and submultiples, and the facility with which it lends itself to decimal calculation, make this simple and admirable system the only one worthy of universal adoption by civilized nations.

In fact, in 1873 an international commission, known as “The [International) Metric Commission,” met in Paris, with a view to agreeing upon the adoption of a universal system of measures. England, Russia, Austria, Germany, Bavaria, Würtemberg, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey, the United States, and several of the Spanish American Republics were represented by distinguished scientific men. After careful deliberation they abandoned the idea which had been entertained, of a new measurement of the earth's meridian, recognizing the fact that such an undertaking would be attended with great difficulties, and could yield only uncertain results; and they agreed to adopt the French meter, the standard of which is preserved in the French archives. *

The same decision was taken with regard to the kilogramme as the unit of weights.

The commission also recommended certain necessary precautions for securing the accuracy of the standard meter according to the dimensions fixed upon.

Finally a convention for securing the international unification and perfection of the metric system was signed in Paris on the 20th of May, 1875, which convention was ratified by the Governments of the following nations: Switzerland, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Argentine Republic, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, United States, France, Russia, Sweden and Norway, Turkey, and Venezuela.

* In the International Metric Bureau, which seventeen nations contribute to support and direct.

1

The following gave their adhesion afterwards: Servia in 1879, Roumania in 1882, Great Britain in 1884, and Japan in 1885. The Republics of Chili, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Salvador, and Uruguay have also adopted that system.

In a recent lecture delivered before the Academy of Sciences at Paris, M. de Malarce said:

That in 1877 the use of the metric system was obligatory in various parts of the globe, that system being the one employed by 302,000,000 persons; that in the course of ten years it had been adopted by 53,000,000 more; that in the same year, 1877, various countries containing a population of 97,000,000 voluntarily adopted the use of this system; that it was also legally admitted in Russia, Turkey, and British India, which had the same year, 1877, a population of 395,000,000, thus receiving in ten years an addition of 540,000,000. In China, Japan, and Mexico the decimal system prevails, but not the metric. This last has been adopted and legally recognized by 791,000,000 souls, and the decimal system is in use among 470,000,000 of inhabitants in the three countries last named. So that only 42,000,000 persons exist who reckon according to the ancient systems of weights and measures and who do not recognize the metrico-decimal.

Recently the United States Government received official fac-similes of the meter and kilogram agreed upon in the International Metrical Conference held in Paris in September of last year; and the boxes containing them were officially opened on the ed instant at the Executive Mansion, in the presence of the President of the Republic and other functionaries and certain distinguished personages specially invited for the ceremony.

The advantages which the metrico-decimal system offers being so evident, and that system having been already adopted by so considerable a number of nations, your committee recommend

That the International American Conference proposes to all the governments here represented that its use be made obligatory, both in their commercial relations and in all that relates to the sciences and the industrial arts.

JACINTO CASTELLANOS,
CLEMENT STUDEBAKER,

DISCUSSION.

[ocr errors]

SESSION OF JANUARY 24, 1890. First VICE-PRESIDENT (in the chair). The discussion of the report from the Committee on Weights and Measures is now in order. If there be no honorable Delegate who asks that the same be read, inasmuch as the report has already been printed, and probably read by every member, the Chair will dispense with the reading.

Mr. STUDEBAKER. I move the adoption of the report.

FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT. If there be no objection on the part of Delegates, the Secretary will read simply the conclusions of the report, and then the vote will be taken by States.

The conclusions of the report referred to were read as follows:

The advantages which the Metrico-Decimal System offers being so evident, and that system having already been adopted by so considerable a number of nations, your committee recommend that the International American Conference propose to all the Governments here represented that its use be made obligatory, both in their commercial relations and in all that relates to the sciences and industrial arts.

Mr. ROMERO. I take the liberty of suggesting to the gentlemen who sign the report, the advisability of making some alterations in the phraseology of the concluding clause. I agree with the substance of it, but it appears to me that the terms in which it is expressed could be altered to a more suitable form. It reads thus : That the International American Conference propose to

all the Governments here represented that its use be made obligatory, both in their commercial relations and in all that relates to the sciences and the industrial arts.

In the first place, since we are to submit to our Governments only the recommending clause of each report, it would be better in the one now before us to say “the metrico-decimal system" instead of "the system indicated.” This is one of the alterations I

would propose.

It also seems to me that the part of the recommendation referring to the sciences, arts, and industries is both vague and insufficient, and it would be better to substitute another phrase, for instance: “Propose the adoption of the metrico-decimal system.” If the intention of the committee is that the metrico-decimal system be adopted only in the relations between one nation and another, the phrase would be unnecessary, while if the intention is that it be adopted for all purposes, as well in domestic as in foreign relations, then it seems to me to be insufficient; for there are a multitude of cases in which the metric system could be used and which are not comprehended either among the sciences, arts, or industries.

Consequently the two amendments I would propose are, first, that the recommendation read “metrico-decimal system " instead of “system indicated;" second, that it be made to say that the International American Conference recommend instead of “propose") to the Governments here represented the adoption of the metrico-decimal system.

The honorable Delegate from Brazil makes a suggestion which seems to me well founded. He that as various nations have already adopted this sys

He says

tem it ought to be said in the report that the recommendation is addressed only to those nations who have not adopted it. I will put my amendments in writing so that the Chair may present them in a formal manner.

Mr. ZEGARRA (Presiding). The Chair considers that to be the advisable course.

Mr. CASTELLANOS. It is of course to be understood that the last paragraph of the report refers to what goes before; and that is why it is written in those terms. But if the explanatory parts of the reports are not to precede the recommendations, I am in favor of amending the language.

As for the other suggestion made by the Hon. Mr. Romero, to the effect that there are cases, not comprehended among either sciences, arts, or industries, in which the metrico-decimal system might be employed, I must say that I do not know of any that can not be included in that classification; but if the Conference thinks that the alteration should be made, I have no objection.

Mr. ROMERO. I fear I did not express myself with sufficient clearness the first time I took the floor, and to avoid misunderstanding I beg the honorable chairman of the committee presenting the report to tell me if their intention, in preparing the recommending clause of their report, was to restrict the use of the metric system solely to sciences, arts, and industries as relating to commercial relations between the States here represented, so as not to include the domestic commercial transactions of the respective countries, or whether the latter are to be included?

Mr. CASTELLANOS. Complying with the wishes of

« AnteriorContinuar »