New answers tagged

3 votes

Why do scientists use specialized units for distance when metric units are perfectly adequate?

In this specific case, AU and parsec are directly relevant to how astronomers measure the distance to objects using parallax. You can research this yourself, but astronomers measure the position in ...
RC_23's user avatar
  • 200
0 votes

Why do scientists use specialized units for distance when metric units are perfectly adequate?

Answer: Because those scientists are humans. One of the reasons for the plethora of units is that human brains handle small and large numbers differently. There is an extensive discussion of this in “...
Woody's user avatar
  • 21.6k
1 vote

Why do scientists use specialized units for distance when metric units are perfectly adequate?

I think it is some kind of mental inertia of the field. Expressing distances in km (like 9.461e+12 km) is equally wrong, would be better written 9.461 Pm (peta meter). Maybe people are not used to ...
Razvan P's user avatar
  • 111
4 votes

Why do scientists use specialized units for distance when metric units are perfectly adequate?

Let's take the discussion to the distances of objects which astronomers are currently studying. Alpha Centauri at 40 Pm doesn't get a lot of attention anymore. The Galatic center is at 220 Em and the ...
Boyd's user avatar
  • 41
1 vote

Why do scientists use specialized units for distance when metric units are perfectly adequate?

It depends on the context and scientific branch. Astronomy and related fields deal with distances so vast, that measuring them in run-of-the-mill Earth units, such as kilometers or miles, would result ...
Aristocratic Jack's user avatar
12 votes

Why do scientists use specialized units for distance when metric units are perfectly adequate?

In general, people find really enormous numbers hard to fathom, and this is true even for scientists. When using the metric system, it's not so bad hard to understand kilo-, mega-, and occasionally ...
Barmar's user avatar
  • 229
61 votes
Accepted

Why do scientists use specialized units for distance when metric units are perfectly adequate?

From Kepler to the 1960's, the AU was the best measurement basis available for astronomy. Planetary motions could be expressed precisely in AU, but the relation of the AU to terrestrial units was only ...
John Doty's user avatar
  • 3,304

Top 50 recent answers are included