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There Are 500 Mickeys (As In Mickey Mouse) Per Inch

When you start thinking about how to weigh something, how do you know how to measure it?  Do you use the same measurement to measure water? What if you’re measuring flour? Does a pound weigh the same in Germany as it does in Austria?

If you’ve ever wondered about things like this and how it all came to be, you’ll be interested to know about Weights and Measures Day. This holiday celebrates the day that the world agreed on the use of weights and measures using an International Treaty.

  • 20th May 1875 was one of the most important days in history as relates to international trade and the exchanging of ideas across the globe.
  • On this day the world came together and signed an International Treaty that meant that all agreed to use a standard system of weights and measures.
  • Some examples of old measurements involved the original foot, which was said to equal the length of a King’s foot.  There were also acres, which was the amount of land a peasant could plow in a day.
  • Chains were used to measure distance as well; with a chain being both an actual chain and a length of measure.
  • One method of calculation in Biblical times was the area which a yoke of oxen could plow in a day
  • In ancient Rome land distances were measured in paces, one pace being defined as two steps, or approximately 5 feet
  • Ancients hired “bematists” to measure long distances, They were trained to count steps while walking between locations and could measure hundreds of miles with 95% plus accuracy.
  • Eratosthenes used one to calculate the circumference of the Earth within 15% in 240 BC.
  • The word mile comes from the largest unit of land measure used by the Romans, the “milia passuum” meaning 1,000 paces. The Roman army, marching through uncharted territory, used to place a stick in the ground every 1,000 paces (where each pace was two steps).
  • A ‘butt’ was a medieval unit of measure for wine. Technically, a buttload of wine is about 475 liters or 126 gallons.
  • James Watt needed to convince skeptics to ditch their draft horses and buy his steam engine. To prove its superiority, he measured a horse walking in ­circles to turn a grindstone in a mill. He multiplied the distance it walked by its 180 pounds of pulling force and came up with a new measure: horsepower.
  • On December 10, 1799, France became the first country to adopt the metric system as its system for weights and measures.
  • The unit of measurement “smoot” is named after an MIT prank on Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity pledge, Oliver Smoot, whose body was used to measure the Harvard Bridge in 1958. One smoot is 5 foot 7 inches and the length of the Harvard Bridge is 364.4 smoots.
  • In Tibet distances used to be measured by the number of cups of tea that would need to be drunk to get there.
  • The Sami people of northern Finland use a measure called Poronkusema: the distance a reindeer can walk before needing to urinate.
  • 1588 – The First Table of Weights and Measures is Issued. Queen Elizabeth proclaims 14 units in total, including the gallon, bushel, ton, and ounce.
  • 1824 – A platinum bar is cut into equal parts and becomes the international standard for the length of measurement.
  • A Connecticut man named Alvin J. Fellows patented the spring-click tape measure on July 14, 1868.
    • “6-inch” by Beyoncé. Beyoncé sings about hard-working women in this song, using six-inch heels as a symbol of wealth and power.
    • “A thousand miles” by Vanessa Carlton. Carlton sings about how she would travel the world to be with her loved one.
    • “Six feet under” by The Weeknd. “Six Feet Under” is a phrase that dates back to the 1930s, and that means dead and buried.
    • “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. This song was written in 1947 by the country and western guitarist and songwriter, Merle Travis.
    • “Kilos” by Bugzy Malone. “Kilos” finds Bugzy Malone giving us a taste of his lifestyle now, and he’s become one of the biggest names in the U.K. rap game.
  • In the sport of baseball, the Altuve is an informal measurement of distance equal to 5 feet 5 inches or 1.65 m. This is a reference to Houston Astros player José Altuve, who stands 5 feet 5 inches tall, making him one of the shortest players in Major League Baseball.
  • One mickey is the smallest resolvable unit of distance by a given computer mouse-pointing device. It is named after Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse cartoon character.  Mouse motion is reported in horizontal and vertical mickeys. Device sensitivity is usually specified in mickeys per inch. Typical resolution is 500 mickeys per inch (16 mickeys per mm), but resolutions up to 16,000 mickeys per inch (600 mickeys per mm) are available.
  • Muggeseggele – A Muggeseggele is a humorous Alemannic German idiom used in Swabia to designate a nonspecific very small length or amount of something; it refers to a housefly‘s scrotum.
  • A wiffle, also referred to as a WAM for Wiffle (ball) Assisted Measurement, is equal to a sphere 89 millimeters (3.5 inches) in diameter – the size of a Wiffle ball, a perforated, light-weight plastic ball frequently used by marine biologists as a size reference in photos to measure corals and other objects. The spherical shape makes it omnidirectional and perfect for taking a speedy measurement, and the open design also allows it to avoid being crushed by water pressure. Wiffle balls are a much cheaper alternative to using two reference lasers, which often pass straight through gaps in thin corals. A scientist on the research vessel EV Nautilus is credited with pioneering the technique.
  • Barn, outhouse, shed. A barn is a serious metric unit of area used by nuclear physicists to quantify the scattering or absorption cross-section of very small particles, such as atomic nuclei.  One barn is equal to 1.0×10−28 m2. The name derives from the folk expressions “As big as a barn,” and “Couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn”, used by particle accelerator physicists to refer to the probability of achieving a collision between particles. For nuclear purposes, 1.0×10−28 m2 is actually rather large. The outhouse (1.0×10−6 barns) and shed (1.0×10−24 barns) are derived by analogy.
  • Donkey power – This facetious engineering unit is defined as 250 watts – about a third of a horsepower.


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