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Units Of Measurement That Never Caught On

posted 2021.02.23

Literithms (Lm)

One literithm is equal to ten liters. Zero literithms are equal to one liter. A milliliter is -3 literithms. The unit scales logarithmically, increasing by one literithm for every tenfold increase in volume.

Dnubits (dnb)

The cubit was an ancient unit of measurement that was about the length of a person’s forearm. Forearms are great, but why stop there? The DNA in a single cell would be about 2 meters long if stretched out. A dnubit, varying from person to person and cell to cell, is about 2 meters as well. The DNA in all human cells combined would be about 7.9×10107.9 \times 10^{10} km if laid end-to-end. So your DNA is a pretty good astronomical unit of measure.

Yays and wee bits (yay / wee)

Yays and wee bits are a tandem, each covering the sizes the other does not. Yays are only used for things larger than a bread box, and wee bits are only for things smaller than a bread box. Both are units of volume.

A bread box is yay big. Something about the size of a minifridge is yaay big. Something about the size of a regular fridge is yaaay big. An elephant? That’s, like, yaaaaay big. You can’t have half an A in the unit, so you have to use italics or vocal emphasis to communicate in-between amounts.

A bread box is also a wee bit in size. A pillow would be a weee bit big. A phone would be a weee bit. A fly might be a weeeee bit. You may NOT use ‘we bit’.

Light-nanoseconds (l-ns)

Light travels 300,000,000 meters per second in a vacuum. Therefore a light-nanosecond is three-tenths of a meter, or slightly less than a foot. We all know how convenient a unit feet are, so why not use a similar unit that’s astronomically correct?

Dotsizes and phreadths (. / phr)

A dotsize is a very intuitive unit of measurement. That is because it is exactly equal to the size of a dot on the page. A dotsize is the area of a period character in whatever font and style is used to typeset it. Some publishers make the dots very large, if a very large unit is desired.

This is often used in conjunction with the phreadth, a unit of length equal to the length of the word ‘phreadth’ on the page. Publication of papers with these units must be very careful about the printing (sometimes using special page sizes, to accumulate very long phreadths). Readers must use caution when reading pdf editions of papers online.

Xeconds (Xc)

A xecond is equal to a Chaitin’s constant number of seconds. Chaitin’s constant is uncomputable, so if someone tells you how many xeconds from now they’ll show up, and they take a long time, were they really late?

Kevin (Kv)

The Kevin temperature scale is not to be confused with Kelvin, but it is created by a similar process. Whereas Kelvin is Celsius, but with 273 added to make 0 Kelvin be absolute 0, Kevin is based on Fahrenheit (Kevin’s from the United States) and is translated so 0 is Kevin’s body temperature. Usually water boils at 113 Kevin, but that goes down when Kevin has a fever.

Trilobytes (TrB)

Trilobites have been in existence for about 521 million years. A trilobyte is a unit of information equal to 521 million bytes.

Solid booms (Sb)

Mass and energy are related by Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2E = mc^2. What this means is, mm kilograms of mass can be converted to mc2mc^2 joules, where cc is the speed of light. But, joules? Boring. Insipid. We can do much better. One solid boom is equal to the mass that can be created from the energy released by one tonne of TNT. That’s about 4.855×1084.855 \times 10^{-8} kilograms.

Truckspoons and tyrannospoons (Tksp / Tysp)

You’ve all heard of teaspoons and tablespoons. The pattern between them is obvious. A larger object in the name, a unit that’s three times as much volume. Truckspoons and tyrannospoons merely extrapolate the trend. Trucks are bigger than tables, so a truckspoon is 3 tablespoons. And T-rexes are bigger than trucks, so tyrannospoons are the size of 3 truckspoons. Simple.

Exhas (Eh)

Exhas were created as part of an ambitious project to measure the humor of jokes. Mildly funny jokes online, despite the popular abbreviation “lol”, are known to cause not laughter-out-loud but instead slight exhalations through the nose. A joke with one exha of humor is funny enough to produce an exhalation of one milliliter of air in a reader. (My writing is typically measured in giga-exhas.)

Big juicy chomps (BJC)

In computer science, a bit is a single binary value (1 or 0). A byte is eight bits. In text encoded using ASCII format, each letter takes up one byte of information. Some cheeky computer scientists thought it would be funny to name the unit of half a byte a “nibble”. In an aim to end to this tomfoolery, the unit for two bytes is the most uncomfortable related name possible. That’s right, 16 bits of information are called a big juicy chomp. Yum.

Unideaths (Ud)

Because of the tendency for energy to become more diffuse over time, eventually the universe is theorized to reach a “heat death” state. The heat death of the universe is estimated to occur in 1010010^{100} years from now. One unideath is equal to that length of time, 1010010^{100} years. Your lifetime will probably last less than 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 unideaths. I hope that helps keep things in perspective.

Metric feet (mft)

A metric foot is ten inches.