Scientific Weights and Measures

Posted: March 30, 2019 by aljokd in Junub Sudan

Malith Alier, Perth, Australia

Juba City, South Sudan

Saturday, 30 March, 2019 (PW) – In 2006, driving Mitsubishi Magna I ventured onto the Kwinana Freeway heading south from northern suburbs. This was at a time I just acquired the motor vehicle a few days earlier and was excited to have a rollercoaster ride on a hundred kilometre an hour travel. Erstwhile, I have never driven a car on my own until then. Well, I realised later that ignoring or not attending to the gauges can and will have significant consequences on any one any time.

In the car are governors or gauges that really demand your attention the moment you enter the motor vehicle. The odometer, the temperature gauge and the little gauge that tells you the revolutions your wheels make per minute. The fuel gauge tells you the level or the amount of fuel remaining in the fuel tank. Without enough fuel a motorised gadget can’t travel or move an inch.

On the said joyride, I only focused on the odometer (speedometer) in conformity with the road rules but failed to attend to the temperature gauge. That negligence resulted in the vehicle being over-heated and in the middle of the freeway traffic, I found the vehicle slowing down despite pressing harder on the accelerator. I exited the freeway after realising that I couldn’t use any force to farther propel the car forward as the pressure mounted behind.

On opening the bonnet, the engine smoke greeted my face to the bewilderment. “What happened, some two guys who came to my aid asked.” “I don’t know, the car has heated up,” I confirmed. “do you have any water?” “Yes, I said.” After that unfortunate happening I lived with the consequences for months.

The world around us needs weighing and measuring constantly and consistently all the time. Things to measure include time, mass, velocity, distance, temperature etc.

We are aware that these measurements are not taken seriously at equal measure in different regions of the world. Take for example the issue of time. In and around early 2018 one UK Minister, Lord Bates resigned due to not observing time or having been late for a couple of minutes from scheduled time to answer questions in the House of the Lords. He not only apologised for being late but also offered his resignation for the same cause – time.  In this part of the world, not being punctual is associated with disrespect and lack of courtesy. Arrival on time is the courtesy needed to function effectively in meetings or employment.

Climate according to my old geography notes is the average weather conditions over many, say 30 years. Weather on the other hand, is exhibited by things like wind, air, rain or temperature.  A thermometer measures temperature while wind can be measured using weather vane and anemometer. There are instruments that are used to forecast the weather too. They tell us whether it’s going to be cloudy, rainy, dry or windy. Atmospheric pressure can also be determined in the same way. Predicting weather helps individuals or groups determine what to do and at what time depending on the prevalent conditions.

Disease has a correlation with temperature. The normal human temperature is 37 degrees. Entered the disease and the temperature rises beyond that mark. Bacteria can multiply rapidly in presence of oxygen, protein, moisture and suitable temperature. This is the reason why we have freezers and refrigerators to keep temperature low and prevent bacteria from multiplying causing disease or food poisoning if ingested. You can use the thermometer to prop in to food to determine the food internal temperature. Doctors always use thermometer to measure patient temperature in the hospital.

To measure mass or volume, one needs something that can do the job with consistency and accuracy.  How does one determine a weight of sugar to be sold for $5? This is where grams and kilograms come in. The Bible tells us that God detests false weights and measures.

The motto of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures is “use the measure.” Use the measure is significant in that it is not possible to portion sugar, bread or an amount of liquid without a form or instrument of measurement.

In the old Sudan of which South Sudan was a part, the Arab traders used to deploy false weights and measures mainly in the untamed south to reap staggering gains for themselves. The traders in particular, were notorious in the business of grain, sugar or salt. Having been to Bor from the village at age of eight, the sight of the dented bottoms of tins, cans and gallons shook my nerves. I thought I was the only one cognizant of the apparent flimflams. To add the insult to injury, the same traders in addition, use a flat piece of timber to level the top of those grain gallons and unashamedly received the full price for them. The Arabic terms like “robo/maluo” which majority of customers couldn’t comprehend were usually uttered by the devious traders.

The Arab weights and weights and measures have not become the thing of the past despite independence at times equated to freedom. When you go to Konyokonyo today, you’ll find some of those instruments still in active use. The open-air traders in the middle of the market adamantly continue to use narrow-bottom buckets and cups to ditch out grains and pulses to credulous customers.

The incorrigible Konyokonyo traders couldn’t also give ground to the Ministry of Commerce to implement standard weights and measures in the market. Old habits die hard! Those businesspeople are not in a hurry to modernise and adapt the standard weights in the 21st century.

During the time of Al Haj Babala as Mayor of Juba City, the council ordered the bakers to baked bread with weight range between 50 and 60 grams. However, the bakers defied the order and continued with their unconscionable business in their usual style.

South Sudan has not yet applied to join International Bureau of Weights and Measures but it may a matter of time. In the meantime, it may “use the measure!”

A kilogram can be used to measure mass including sugar, rice and beans. A litre may be used to measure liquids including oil and milk. Doctors use thermometer in the hospital to measure patient temperature. Metre or kilometre is used in construction to measure distance

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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