Amusing Measurements

• ~300 words • 1 minute read

After thinking about my post about Bhut Jolokia peppers and the Scoville scale for measuring the hotness of things, it got me to thinking about other kinds of measurements. Initially I wondered if there was a general scale for unpleasantness and how the pepper might fair. That would be a far more useful comparison really, than comparing it to the spiciness of other peppers. Although Bhut Jolokia is more than 400x the hotness of Tabasco sauce, I'm not sure I have any real concept of what that means. However, if you were to tell me Tabasco scores a comparable score on the general unpleasantness scale to, say, biting your tongue, and the the Bhut Jolokia was like biting your tongue while fire ants crawl all over your face, I might have a better sense of the disparity between the two peppers.

In my brief search for this universal unit of unpleasantness, I did find two fantastic Wikipedia pages: Humorous Measurements and a List of unusual units of measurement.

Some of my favorites:

  • A Warhol is a unit of fame. One Warhol represents, as you would guess, 15 minutes.
  • The Beard-second is the length your beard hair grows in a single second. During Whiskerino a total of 10.4 million beard seconds elapsed which supposedly translates to 5.18 centimeters. Don't believe me? Ask Google.
  • A Sheppey is defined as the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque (Thank you Douglas Adams).
  • The Rictus Scale is an alternative means of measuring earthquakes based on media coverage. In Portland, we should probably devise a similar scale for snow.
  • Coolness can be measured in Fonzies.
  • Utility is the measure of relative satisfaction (Sort of the opposite of what I was looking for)
  • I no longer use the imperial OR metric system. Now I just measure things in shakes, jiffies, bags of cement, elephants, cricket pitches and fully loaded 747s.