East meets west. It’s a common idiom that has been around for so long that it has evolved to both express agreement and collaboration as well as to describe polar opposites, and just about everything in between.

The distinction between east and west has a lot to do with perception. Take for instance that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. And there have been man made distinctions that have furthered this perception. In 1884, the International Meridian Conference in Washington, DC, established Greenwich Mean Time, which served as the prime meridian, or 0 degrees longitude, and effectively divided the world into an Eastern Hemisphere and a Western Hemisphere, much like the equator divides the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. From then on, and further widening our perceptions, “Every place on Earth was measured in terms of its distance east or west from this line.”

Whether you chalk it up to geography, coincidence, or perception, the gap continued to grow as our differences in culture, food, religion, and more were distinguished as either eastern or western.

In the opening of his classic poem, “The Ballad of East and West,” Rudyard Kipling writes, “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” As the poem fleshes out, Kipling was not advocating one as superior to the other. In fact, just the opposite. The characters representing east and west were of equal strength. He was simply attempting to describe two things that were too different to ever agree or be in harmony. In fact, so contradictory that if brought face-to-face would most certainly mean conflict.

The east-west comparison was an apt metaphor for the times of Kipling, but, in fact, to give some perspective to how long there has been this severe distinction in the perception of east versus west, it has been said that Kipling drew on the east-west concept from the Bible’s Book of Psalms.

However, today the expression east meets west has come to be synonymous with two things that come together in harmony. Now, the idiom has come to describe things that blend aspects of eastern and western culture.

And we can trace some of this blending back to Hong Kong. From 1841 to 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony, but still rooted in Chinese culture. The immersion of the two cultures eventually exposed the west to such things as martial arts movies, Feng Shui, and more.

In most cases, it didn’t take total immersion of two cultures, but just exposure. Well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright was influenced by Japanese architecture, which is reflected in many of his buildings all over the world, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

But probably the most common of today’s collaboration of east and west is our chefs bringing together cuisine from Asia and Europe, referred to as fusion. And this fusion is not only limited to our culture and food, but also the progress of our technology, like the hybrid engine.

And this progress includes the bringing together of metrology and robotics. Find out how in our 101 article, “Quality Meets Robotics,” and check out everything else we have to offer in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!