Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Finals Procrastination, Part II: Smoots

For the past couple years, the google search interface has included a calculator, allowing you to do all manner of math.

I've known for awhile that it will do the oddest imaginable measurements for you, calculating such things as the speed of light in fathoms per fortnight; however, until yesterday, I did not know that it includes one decidedly odd measurement unit: The Smoot.

The smoot is named after Oliver R. Smoot, who in October 1958 was rolled head over heels by his fraternity brothers to measure the length of the Harvard Bridge. They determined the bridge to be "364.4 smoots plus one ear."

Google includes the smoot.

Thus, you can calculate the speed of sound at sea level in smoots per lunar month. Further, you can learn that Han Solo's claim in the original Star Wars that he did the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs was really a claim that he completed the race in less than 2.17582342 × 1017 smoots.

I shall now return to learning the laws of our great nation.

P.S. Also procrastinating? Here's Wikipedia's list of strange measurements.

1 comment:

SaxBoy said...

When I was young, my dad and I used to park at MIT and walk to Red Sox games over that bridge, and I would count the Smoots.

The ruse worked, but only partially. Indeed I became a Red Sox fan, but chose not to go to MIT.