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Scientific Commercial Standards

Scientific Commercial Standards

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Excerpt from Scientific Commercial Standards: A Lecture Delivered Before the Southern California Academy of Sciences, Sept; 7, 1903

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:

A standard measure, like a standard of morals, is measured by itself "because there is none greater."

The difficulty of finding anything on earth or in the universe for that matter, that is so fixed and certain in its properties that it can be selected and established as an unvariable standard of length, of weight or of value, has baffled the skill of philosophers and scientists for all time past, and the war of the standards is as heated and merciless today as ever before. The proof of this is found in the accumulated literature on weights an measures, in our public and private libraries, and in the laws of the various states and nations of the world.

I doubt if the great mass of mankind, even those actively engaged in trade and commerce, realize the stupendous importance of the subject - the laws governing it, like the law of gravitation, acting so silently and often played with so stealth-fully by those whose interests are not always identical with the public good, that all may be affected powerfully without perceiving the real cause of disturbance.

The importance of this subject was recognized by the framers of our National Constitution; for there in paragraph 5 of section 8 of article 1 of that great charter of our liberties it is provided that "The Congress shall have power to coin money, regulate the value thereof and of foreign coin and fix the standard of weights and measures."

The importance of fixed standards and the necessity for rigid conformity to them, is pointed out and emphasized in our earliest literature. Cheating in weights and measures was forbidden among the first laws given to the children of Israel while yet roaming in the wildernesss, and before reaching the promised land where trade and commerce were to become national characteristics.

"Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.

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