213 years ago today, in 1795, the French introduced the metric system of weights and measurements. The metre was 1/10,000,000th the distance between the equator and the North Pole. (Small pause while calculator is hunted out - and just as well - make that 214 years!) However the word was around a little before that when Italian scientist Tito Livio Burattini used it in 1675 to rename the Universal - a (decimal) measure proposed in 1668 by Englishman John Wilkins in "An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language". Hmmm - the net is a wonderful thing. In a very quick, but very interesting search, it variously reports the launch of the metric system as 1791, 1795 and 1797 - and I'm not even thinking about the actual date any more.