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Ten Strange Units of Measurement

While some may think that feet and inches are “strange” units of measurement in comparison to the metric system, fear not; some people use even more convoluted systems to determine their measurements. What are some units of measurement that you think don’t work? What are some obscure ones you think should be used more often?

One night, in 1958, a fraternity at MIT charged its pledges with measuring the length of the Harvard Bridge between Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts. The pledges’ shortest member was Oliver Smoot, at 5′7″. He lay down on the bridge, and they rolled his body to measure the length of the whole thing from beginning to end. It ended up being 364.4 Smoots, give or take the length of an ear. The unbelievability of this unit isn’t that it was made, but that it somehow endured as a niche, but popular, unit of measurement. If you walk the bridge from MIT to Boston today, you can still see many helpful lines painted onto it, showing how many Smoots you’ve gone.

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Date
August 8th, 2011

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Stranger to the World

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