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strange systems of units
Read 1734 times
September 06, 2014, 03:07:44 PM
Just surfing the net and found this Burmese system of units
10 hair's breadth = 1 sesamum seed
60 sesamum seeds = 1 (other type of grain)
4 of them = 1 finger's width. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair's_breadth

Quote
This measurement is not a precise one. Human hair varies in diameter, ranging anywhere from 30 μm to 100 μm. One nominal value often chosen is 75 μm,[1] but this – like other measures based upon such highly variant natural objects, including the barleycorn[4] – is subject to a fair degree of imprecision.[1][3]

Such measures can be found in many cultures. The English "hair's breadth"[2] has a direct analogue in the formal Burmese system of Long Measure. A "tshan khyee", the smallest unit in the system, is literally a "hair's breadth". 10 "tshan khyee" form a "hnan" (a Sesamum seed), 60 (6 hnan) form a mooyau (a species of grain), and 240 (4 mooyau) form an "atheet" (literally, a "finger's breadth").[5][6]

Y'know, sometimes I think some wiki-threads are a pisstake.
What would Burmese farmers do with a unit of measure only readable with a strong microscope?   10x60x4 = 1/2400 th of a finger width ...   

Yeah right, as they say !! (that phrase when two positives make a negative).

Or maybe they line up all the little seeds and/or hairs) and put em in a small vice?  (240 sesame seeds to the finger width - whoever found that out?)  Ever tried to pick up three (or more) peanuts with chopsticks?

Also if the lower bound estimate of a hair's breadth is 30 microns, (0.03 mm) then 2400 of them = 72mm , meaning that either Burmese farmers have very broad fingers, or very thin hair ( 2 cents).
« Last Edit: September 06, 2014, 03:51:12 PM by samdavo »

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September 06, 2014, 03:22:32 PM
#1
I also notice this one ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_humorous_units_of_measurement

Then there are large qtys of ... pretty much anything :-

Quote
Sagan
See also: Sagan's number
As a humorous tribute to Carl Sagan and his association with the catchphrase "billions and billions", a sagan has been defined as a large quantity of anything.[7][8]

Then there's a unit for beauty :-

Quote
Helen of Troy (from the Iliad) is widely known as "the face that launched a thousand ships". Thus, 1 millihelen is the amount of beauty needed to launch a single ship.
etc

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September 06, 2014, 05:35:07 PM
#2
Hi Sam,

Quote
Thus, 1 millihelen is the amount of beauty needed to launch a single ship.

Am I right in assuming that 1 millihelen = a bottle of champagne, then?

And if so, will a bottle of Scotch launch a spaceship (http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2014/09/ardbeg-space-aged-whisky-returns-to-earth/)?
« Last Edit: September 06, 2014, 05:44:06 PM by magic »

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It's a kind of magic!





* September 06, 2014, 07:27:28 PM
#3
Then there is the 'gnats-cock' which measures quite small. Followed up by "5/8's of f&*@-all"

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September 07, 2014, 02:33:06 AM
#4
Magic, Had they tried that Scotch in Space,  it would have tasted like something out of this world.

Apparently Helen of Troy was also into burning things as well as launching ships , i.e.
"Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships, / And burnt the topless towers of Ilium."-
And I also see that a picohelen can barbq a couple of steaks, and throw a rubber inner tube into the pool.   

PS Since she was seduced by Paris - and they apparently eloped - then I suppose the male equivalent of a Helen ( or millihelen) would have been a Paris / milliparis (?)

Sorry Scud, don't know much about gnats :)   
« Last Edit: September 07, 2014, 01:43:23 PM by samdavo »

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