Weird Units Of Measure

Weird Units Of Measure
Make Physics More Enjoyable
Units Of Measure, Weird
Measurement, Weird

Roel van der Meulen


Bored with Physics? Enter the world of the Weird Units.

Are you fed up with physics? Do you need some excitement or variation? Try changing your standard units to more enjoyable ones. Then you can revel yourself in knowing that almost no one else understands what the gibberish you write down means (but a small group of geeks, just like the Klingon speakers, them sick wire-cords). Then you can cover up outcomes that you don't particularly like.

Try for instance some of these:


Professor Julius Sumner Miller was one time asked how long he wanted to speak to a group. He would reply, "about a microcentury." A microcentury is about 52.5 min, close to a "standard" lecture period of 50 minutes.

Easy to remember is also the nanocentury: one nanocentury is about pi seconds (3.156 sec. to be approximately exact).

The micro-Fortnight is approximately a second (1.2 is better).


An Aangstroem per week is 165 atto-metres a second.

A unit of speed is the 7.26013114 * (SQRT(G*h/c)/mp), where G is Universal Gravitation constant, h is Planck's const, c is the speed of light, and mp is the mass of a proton. This unit is equal to 1 m/s.

The speed of light (c) is 1.80 tera furlongs per fortnight (or 1.80 furlongs per pico-fortnight).

The speed of light in the Roel units, with the unit of time 25 years, the unit of length 1.71m, and the unit of mass 68kg, is 138.31 peta Roel/Roel.


The pico-parsec is about 30.8 kilometres.


One teaspoon is 1.6 barn mega-parsecs.

The Hubble-barn is about 13 liters, depending on your current favorite value for Hubble's constant (H). This is the volume of a straw that has the cross-sectional area of a barn (a nuclear physics cross-sectional area equal to 100 square femtometres, roughly the size of a largish nucleus) and a length equal to the radius of the universe (given by H^{-1}c).

If you use the old value of H, 55 km/s/Mpc, you get 17 liters. The extreme value of H near 100 reduces this by half. The current value is 40 < H < 100 so a median value would give about 13 liters.

The fact that a gallon milk jug has the same volume as a straw with the area of a medium sized nucleus such as Silicon that reaches to the end of the universe is one way to visualize just how small and how big those two numbers really are.


An appropriate unit of work is the "barn-yard-atmosphere" (equal to 9.3 * 10^-24 Joules)


In this system we already have a unit of time, the fortnight (ft), a unit of length, the furlong (fl). Now, to get a unit of force and mass we take the following path: we use two electrical units, the farad (f) and the Faraday (F).

In this system the unit of current is the Faraday/fortnight (F/ft), and the unit of potential difference is the Farady/farad (F/f). Thus the unit of power is (F^2/(f ft)) and the unit of energy is the (F^2/f). Finally, the unit of mass is, of course, (F^2 ft^2)/(f fl^2), or square Faradays square fortnights per square furlong farad. This unit is about 2.3 atto kg.

Other Thoughts

You could measure the gas mileage of a car in inverse acres. To calculate the inverse gas mileage, you drive as far as you can with one gallon, then you make a very long skinny hose whose length is the distance you drove and whose volume is exactly one gallon. You then measure the area of the cross-section of the interior of this hose in acres. Now take the reciprocal.


If you ever encounter a teacher who says, "use any units, just carry them through the calculations," then you know what to do: use the above. (Example units of ampere-turn/(furlong * fortnight * fortnight). You calculate what this was.) Another possibility in this situation is saying, "the answer is 12.7 Meulens, where the Meulen is defined via this problem."

See also

  • Mars
Make Physics More Enjoyable
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Roel van der Meulen
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Measurement, Weird
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