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rh71

No Lifer
Aug 28, 2001
52,610
795
126

zinfamous

No Lifer
Jul 12, 2006
105,030
19,715
136
Nautical miles are one of the only units that don't have an arbitrary basis - it's the arc length of 1/60th of a degree on the earth's surface.

I guess this is funny if you're not good at STEM.
what happens when the earth smooshes/stretches ever so slightly at the poles?

also, "standard" is the antithesis of arbitrary, which is why we establish actual standards. kg, for example, is absolutely not arbitrary because it has a very specific standard--literally "the kg" which exists as a singular, specific, hunk of matter (which, yes, has its own decay rate).

I can't think of a unit of measure that isn't standardized. We have an entire federal department (within a department, I think)--NISA--that qualifies standardization.
 

[DHT]Osiris

Diamond Member
Dec 15, 2015
8,182
4,074
146
Nautical miles are one of the only units that don't have an arbitrary basis - it's the arc length of 1/60th of a degree on the earth's surface.

I guess this is funny if you're not good at STEM.
That's literally arbitrary, as it can change based on the distance from sea level, *or* the sea level, for long-term measurement recording.
 

destrekor

Lifer
Nov 18, 2005
28,783
348
126
Nautical miles are one of the only units that don't have an arbitrary basis - it's the arc length of 1/60th of a degree on the earth's surface.

I guess this is funny if you're not good at STEM.
I mean, the whole metric system can be said to be 100% not arbitrary in origin ;)

How is that definition not arbitrary?
It may seem random to you, but it's not for two reasons:
1. it's a rather exact reference unit that can be reproduced. Just like a meter is defined as "the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second."
2. arc units (minutes and seconds of arc) and degrees were the original tools of the trade for early sea navigation
 

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
61,227
14,085
136
I mean, the whole metric system can be said to be 100% not arbitrary in origin ;)



It may seem random to you, but it's not for two reasons:
1. it's a rather exact reference unit that can be reproduced. Just like a meter is defined as "the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second."
2. arc units (minutes and seconds of arc) and degrees were the original tools of the trade for early sea navigation
1/60 of an arc second varies with latitude as the earth isn't a sphere. The actual length assigned to the nautical mile was agreed to by a committee as a compromise.
 

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