Seven Odd and Surprising Units of Measurements

Breaking News

Seven Odd and Surprising Units of Measurements


Buttload, beard-second, and erlang—these are just some of the units of measurement that we don’t even know existed or actually used as terms for specific units of measurements. But, just because it all sounds so strange doesn’t mean it’s not at all serious. 



Photo Credit via Shutterstock



Let’s start with the one that sounds the most like slang. Now, this might be ancient, but the fascination toward it isn’t. According to Andrew Wallingham’s blog, there are even distinctions between the unit “buttload” and its similar-sounding cousins “boatload” and “sh*tload.” Wallingham explained that while buttload is a traditional unit of measurement used on wines and other alcoholic beverages, boatload is a measure of the capacity that a ship or a boat is able to carry, and sh*tload is, well, the average amount of feces in a day for anyone. 


Photo Credit via Shutterstock



It may come as a surprise to you. You may even clutch at your proverbial pearls but, no, a beard-second is not a unit of measurement that estimates how much beard grows in a second (about 10 nanometers, if you really need to know). Instead, as interesting facts website List Verse states, the term beard-second is inspired by “light years” and is used to measure a short length. 


Photo Credit via Shutterstock



Used as a unit of measurement for music, and though it is musically related, it is actually much closer to the world of mathematics. The savart scale measures the “1/301 of an octave (a musical interval separating two of the same note)” and is a “handy approximation unit in certain situations.”

Additionally, another interesting fact about savart lies in the history of its invention. According to List Verse, this unit of measurement has two official records of invention. The first was done by Joseph Saveur in 1696, during which he called it “eptameride.” The second was by French physicist Felix Savart, whom the unit of measurement was later named after. 


Photo Credit via Shutterstock



Equivalent to “one hour of continuous traffic per voice path,” the erlang is the strange, surprisingly legitimate measurement that accounts for telecommunication patterns and measures call lengths. Named after Agner Klarup Erlang, known as a notable if not an eccentric engineer, this measurement is still used to describe the calls we make today. 


Photo Credit via Wikimedia Commons



What about something weirdly specific? Over at Royal Pingdom, a website largely offering detection services in case a site goes down, “moot” is a measure of distance that is equivalent to five feet and seven inches or about 1.70 meters. It was named after MIT student Oliver Smoot, whose “fraternity pledge in 1958 was to measure the length of the Harvard Bridge.” 


Photo Credit via Shutterstock



Weird measurements, you say? Get a load of a “mickey.” It’s not really a lot but it’s unusually specific enough that it deserves a mention. According to listicle website List 25, the mickey is “used to describe the speed and direction that a computer mouse is moved.” This measurement accounts for the sensitivity of the mouse, too, and the relation of that to the mouse’s performance. 


Photo Credit via Shutterstock



This word has ascended into our general usage for a short period of time we might be gone. According to Royal Pingdom, jiffy is usually 0.01 seconds long. Additionally, it has also been used to measure “1/60th of a second, roughly equal to the frequency of AC electric power in North America and the vertical blanking of NTSC screens.”




Cedric Dent

Experimental Bioethics Meets Quality of Life Enhancement