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odd units

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  • odd units

    The ongoing post about the International Prototype Kilogram has reminded me of my encounter with two unusual units, still in use in some obscure locations.

    The first encounter was in 1994, when I was backpacking on the island of Taveuni, in Fiji. I encountered a local farmer on a dirt road, and asked the whereabouts of a trail which I was seeking. He pointed to a spot nearby and told me it was about 2 chains in that direction. I then recalled that a chain was 66 feet, so I knew I was close.

    A chain is probably familiar to most of us on this forum. But the second encounter involved a unit I'd never heard of. I was in South Africa, on the continuation of that same 10-month backpacking trip around the world. I sat next to a Afrikaner farmer on a bus going to Grahamstown. He told me that the extent of his farm was two thousand morgens. When I asked, he said a morgen was about two acres. Much later, I looked it up in Webster's 3rd Edition, which states that a South African morgen equals 2.116 acres.

    I'm glad that traditional units still survive. It keeps the world from becoming too boring a place.
    Allan Ostling

    Phoenix, Arizona

  • #2
    ... and could you resist asking him if they were "gut morgens"?

    Sorry, it just kind of took over.
    "People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time they will pick themselves up and carry on" : Winston Churchill


    • #3
      Measuring Pogress

      While in Australia, I heard the term, "Furlongs per Fortnight" as a term to measure the speed of some Government projects!!


      Being ROAD KILL on the Information Super Highway and Electronically Challenged really SUCKS!!

      Every problem can be solved through the proper application of explosives, duct tape, teflon, WD-40, or any combo of the aforementioned items.


      • #4
        Most people don't realize that a "google" is a number. It's 1 followed by 100 zeros. Then there is the googleplex which is a google raised to the google power.

        There are also the less than common SI units. Not many people know what a becquerel or a katal measures. You could also try asking somebody how much is a yottagray or maybe a zeptoweber.

        Oh yeah, I almost forgot. For all the computer geeks out there it's interesting that very few actually know the proper names for the binary powers of two when counting bits or bytes. 1000 bytes is a kilobyte but 1024 bytes is a kibibyte. A million bytes is a megabyte but a binary "megabyte" ( 2^20) is a mebibyte.
        Last edited by Evan; 09-14-2007, 11:34 AM.
        Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


        • #5
          There's also "nats asses" "#*@! hairs" and "frog skins",,, and thats just american standard, then there's redneck american standard and hillbilly american standard, then huckleberry A.S. which is kinda a blend between the two because a huckleberry lacks the ability to make up his own system...


          • #6

            You're not that far off the mark as "Morgen" is Dutch for Morning. The measurement morgen derives from how much land could be plowed in one morning.

            Chips Ahoy