How many acres are there in 124 hectares of land? The answer might not have mattered often in the past, but today's global economy often requires conversion of measurement units from one country, culture or discpline into another's. Here's the scoop on the best online conversion tools...
Online Conversion Tools
Currency converters such as XE.com are useful, but knowing the price in your currency does not tell you how much you get for that price. Many online converters quickly convert pounds into kilograms, carats into ounces or grams, and so on.
In fact, if you simply start typing what you want to convert in the Google search box, it will often provide you with the answer before you finish typing! Here's an example: From the Google home page, start typing "235 miles in kilometers". Before you even finish typing the word "miles" the answer will appear in the dropdown list below the search box. The Google calculator understands quite a few conversion units, and even mathematical constants. My geeky favorite is the ability to convert hexadecimal into roman numerals. :-)
If the Google search box doesn't get you an aswer, OnlineConversion.com claims it can "convert just about anything into anything else." It features many different pages devoted to different kinds of conversions; length, temperature, speed, volume, weight, cooking (teaspoons, cups, etc.), area (acres, hectares, etc.), fuel economy (miles/gal. to km/liter, etc.), and, of course, currency conversions. But these are by no means the only conversions that OnlineConversion and other converters will handle for you swiftly and accurately.
Convert-me.com even converts units of measurement used by ancient cultures into modern equivalents. If you ever wondered how many feet long Noah's 300 cubit Ark was, this is where you can find out. A Greek stadium was 0.119471 miles or 0.19227 kilometers long, for example... an Olympic stadium, that is.
Some units measure force or other active properties. One horsepower, for example, may be converted into joules, watts, or other units of power. ConvertUnits.com not only does the conversions but also tells you the definitions of the units you are converting. A horsepower, for instance, was originally defined in terms of the amount of weight that a "typical" draft horse could lift one foot in one second. Today, a horsepower is more precisely defined, e. g., 550 foot-pounds - the energy required to lift 550 pounds one foot off the ground in one second.
Online Converters for Science and Language
Temperature conversions may be as common as currency conversions. The two principal temperature scales are the Fahrenheit and Celsius (or Centigrade) scales. The Kelvin scale is used almost exclusively by scientists, particularly astrophysicists measuring the very hot temperatures of stars and the extreme cold of deep space. You can find a simple Fahrenheit / Celsius / Kelvin converter at About.com's Temperature Conversion page.
You may also find this list of free language translators helpful, if you need to translate something from one language to another. You never know when you might need to convert a phrase from Russian to French, or Spanish into Jive or Swedish Chef.
Desktop unit conversion programs are also available. They are not necessarily faster than online converters, but they're always available even if the Internet is not. Perhaps the best units converter, online or off, is ConvertAll. It's free, simple, and completely flexible. You can combine units in any way you wish, even if they don't make any sense to the rest of the world. Meter-pounds to kilowatt-hours? No problem; how you use the answer is entirely your concern. You can even mix units on one side of the equation, grouping them with parentheses. You can define units by their full name or abbreviation (kilometers or km); in fact, if all you can recall is the first character or two of a unit name, ConvertAll will jump to that point in its list automatically. This is an elegant piece of software for converting one thing to another!
Got something to say about online conversions? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 7 Jun 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Online Converters (Posted: 7 Jun 2010)
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Most recent comments on "Online Converters"
07 Jun 2010
If you're willing to stretch your concept of "conversion" to unanticipated ways, you will play for an hour or more with
http://www.wolframalpha.com/examples/ . Pick a category and then an example to get a feel of what this program/database can do. For example, under 'Units and Measures' - 'Conversions' type 'euro to dollar' and enjoy the results.
08 Jun 2010
I use a little program called convert http://joshmadison.com/software/convert-for-windows/ not for currency as that is not constant but for Pressure Speed Temperature Time torque Volume and another 16 items. It is there on my desktop when ever I need it.
15 Jun 2010
I really like google for conversions. When I was in England and gas (petrol) cost £1.183/liter,http://www.google.com/search?num=20&hl=en&safe=off&q=1+british+pounds+sterling+per+litre+in+dollars+per+gallon&btnG=Search
told me that is 6.61421594 U.S. dollars per US gallon.
It's also fun to tell friends in the UK that one US gallon at $3.00 here is only about £.50: http://www.google.com/search?num=20&hl=en&safe=off&q=3.00+U.S.+dollars+per+gallon+in+British+pound+per+litre&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=k1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=
15 Jun 2010
One word of alert -- as of 18-Jun-2010, OnlineConversion.com, despite its comprehensiveness, and its inclusion of a radiation conversion page, does NOT include any way of converting between rad and gray (or rem and sievert).
This is to my dumbfoundment, as the gray is the "newfangled" unit of measurement of active radiation, and the rad the venerable old-fashioned unit now being retired (and I might add pointlessly, IMO, since they're both metric units); their omission is surely unaccountable.
Anyone looking for radiation conversion will probably need to look elsewhere, at least until they update their conversion page! :(