On Ridiculous Measures

I received recently an e-mail, purporting to contain a list of spurious weights and measures. Bizarre scales. Never, ever, possibly used scales.

Nothing like furlongs per fortnight or anything like that. But the “sheppey,” defined as “the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque,” or roughly 7/8 of a mile.

(Note to self: Use the term “sheppey” at work sometime while looking out the office window. “See that building over there? That’s got to be a good four or five sheppeys away, don’t you think?” It’ll create confusion in the marketplace, for certain!)

I particularly liked the “attoparsec”:

A parsec is approximately 3.26 light-years or about 3.085×10^16 m. Combining it with the “atto-” prefix yields attoparsec (apc), a conveniently human-scaled unit of about 3.085 centimeters (about 1 7/32 inches) that has no obvious practical use. 1 attoparsec/microfortnight is 1.0043 inch/second or approximately 2.55 cm/s).

See, now that’s a usable, if not necessarily useful, bit of measurement.

I, for instance, stand 49 3/4 apc tall. I suppose I could round up to fifty.

The nice thing about the attoparsec? It’s cosmic. When you want to define yourself in terms of cosmic-scaled measures, do it in parsecs! If you want to realize how insignificant you are in terms of the vastness of the interstellar void, do it in parsecs!

Ridiculous measures are so much fun! 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *