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Re: SI question

You might be interested in the origin of my SI question. I didn't want to
mention this before in order not to prejudice the answers and also because
of some temporal confidentiality constraints.

Early this month I was a science judge for the regional DOE science bowl.
We review the questions before hand. Apparently local organizers can change
the questions a bit, if they find errors or items of inadvisability (of
which there are plenty). One question asked for apparent weight in
kilograms for instance; I insisted on changing the wording on that one.

But one question was implying that the "," was the official delimiter
betweens the "one's digit" and the first fractional digit. I questioned
this in our meeting a half hour before the start of the contest. And at
least one other science Judge (I think the math guy, but I'm not sure) was
emphatic that that was the case. Rather then raise a stink about something
I wasn't sure of; I just let it go and decided I'd ask you guys. Thanks for
the responses; which seem to indicate that my suspicions were correct.

-----Original Message-----
From: Forum for Physics Educators
[]On Behalf Of Larry Cartwright
Sent: Sunday, February 11, 2001 6:56 PM
Subject: Re: SI question

David Bowman wrote:
I don't think the arbiters of SI style require either method
(dot or comma) of delimiting decimals other than to recommend
the use of the method that is common for the language in which
one is writing. For instance, in English its the dot-type decimal
point, and in German its the comma-type of delimiter.

David, I have some pretty clear evidence that you are
correct, that both
forms of the decimal marker are officially acceptable.

Bureau International des Poids et Mesures is, of course, the agency
which administers SI for the Conference Generale. In their English
language webpages they use the "dot" decimal marker and in
their French
language webpages they use the "comma" decimal marker.

Both of the following quotes are from BIPM webpages:

"The widespread use of electronic voltage standards
referenced to Zener
diodes has created a need to carry out calibrations at 10 V as well as
at 1.018 V."

"L'utilisation largement répandue d'étalons électroniques de tension
utilisant comme référence des diodes de Zener a rendu nécessaire les
étalonnages à 10 V aussi bien qu'à 1,018 V."

Best wishes,

Larry Cartwright <>
Physics and Physical Science Teacher
Charlotte HS, Charlotte MI USA