Made to measure: where did the metre come from?

20 June 2020

9:00 AM

20 June 2020

9:00 AM

Made to measure

The government started reviewing whether we should stay two metres apart while social distancing or whether one metre would do. What is a metre?

— Since 1960 it has been defined as the distance travelled by light in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458th of a second.

— But it was originally defined by the post-revolution French government as one ten-millionth of the distance between the Equator and the North Pole, on a meridian through Paris.

— The signing of the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875 by representatives of 17 nations officially established the metre as an international unit of measurement.

— If everyone in Britain joined the queue for Primark it would go 1.6 times round the Earth with social distancing at one metre, and 3.2 times round the Earth with social distancing at two metres.

Monumental figures

Some statues of black people in Britain:

— Nelson Mandela, Parliament Square (also on South Bank and outside Brixton recreation centre).

— Desmond Tutu, Lewisham Town Hall.

— George Ryan, sailor on HMS Victory, appears on the bas-relief of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.

— Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole, St Thomas’ Hospital.

— Footballers Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis, West Bromwich.

— Dame Kelly Holmes, Tonbridge.

— Arthur Wharton, England’s first black footballer, who played for Darlington in the 1880s, has a statue at the National Football Centre, Burton-on-Trent.

— Alfred Fagon, playwright and actor, St Pauls, Bristol.

Home work

How much schoolwork have pupils been doing during lockdown?

— On average children are doing 2.5 hours of schoolwork per day.

— However, it varies widely, with 20% doing less than an hour and 17% doing more than four hours.

28% of children in the south-east are doing more than four hours of offline schoolwork a day, compared with only 9% in the north-east.

— Among children who are eligible for free school meals, 11% are spending more than four hours a day on schoolwork. Among other children the figure is 20%.

31% of private schools are delivering four or more hours of live online lessons a day. Among state schools the figure is 6%.

Source: UCL Institute of Education

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