Feb 07

The All New SI Units Of Measurement

FT + Proven By Science36 comments • 9,464 views

Its good to see that in the great GIANT SQUID story the BBC no longer trust the standard units of measurement, be they imperial or metric. Instead, as any good news story will have it, the all new SI Units* are being used. In this case the squid is being measured in Double Decker Buses.
Bus vs squid

But much like the fictional length between King Alfred’s nose and his fingertips, the foundation of this SI measurement system is in itself now non-existent. The Routemaster bus used clearly in this picture as the standard unit length of “quite big” itself is rarely seen on the streets of London, and certainly not elsewhere. So is its position as an SI unit in danger. Or is there some sort of platonic, ur-measurement in the Routemaster that will remain in human brains forever.

For your information my the way, the SI Units I am aware of:

Football Pitch**
Wales (Predominantly used to describe areas affected by disasters)

Double Decker Buses
Football Pitches (again)
The circumference of the world

Temperature of the North Pole
Temperature at noon at the equator
The temperature of the sun

VOLUME (lxbxh):
Albert Hall / St Paul’s Cathedral

A Rock Concert

The beating of a hummingbird’s wings.

I have clearly missed a large number here, WHICH IS WHAT THE COMMENTS SECTION IS FOR. I am all for this programme by the BBC, ITV last night seemed remarkably retrograde when trying to describe how far five metres was. Admittedly it does not easily fit into the above SI units very well, but nevertheless saying it was the distance between the reporter, and a car about five metres away seemed far too obvious. And no, the car was not moving quickly towards him, worst luck.

*Standard Intuitive.

**In itself amusing as there is NO STANDARD FOOTBALL PITCH SIZE.


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  2. 2
    Martin Skidmore on 22 Feb 2007 #

    There are some standard height ones – Nelson’s Column, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building. There are small ones to – a pinhead, the full stop in this sentence. Time ones include the time it takes to read this sentence/paragraph or a TV ad break.

  3. 3
    Alex on 22 Feb 2007 #

    For length, there’s also the distance to the moon (and back).

  4. 4
    CarsmileSteve on 22 Feb 2007 #

    or distance to the sun.

    the article itself suggests another:

    One expert said calamari rings made from it would be like tractor tyres.

    but again, it’s all in the details, front tractor tyres (not really impressive) or back tractor tyres (quite exciting)?

  5. 5
    lockedintheattic on 22 Feb 2007 #

    Volume – An Olympic-sized swimming pool

    Area – I think the metric equivalent of a ‘Wales’ is a ‘Belgium’ – 1 Belgium being roughly 1.5 Waleses

  6. 6
    Steve Mannion on 22 Feb 2007 #

    where did the whole ‘let’s use a double decker bus as length barometer’ thing come from? i suppose they just capture the imagination so well.

    when will they replace it with the much longer bendy bus?

  7. 7
    Steve Mannion on 22 Feb 2007 #

    One expert said calamari rings made from it would be like tractor tyres.


  8. 8
    JohnneyB on 22 Feb 2007 #

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  9. 9
    MarkH on 22 Feb 2007 #

    premature babies always weigh as much as a bag of sugar.

  10. 10
    jeff w on 22 Feb 2007 #

    The double decker bus as SI unit of length stems in part from Evel Kneivel (sp?) I think – how many can be jumped across on a motorbike.

    Or is that width?

  11. 11
    Pete Baran on 22 Feb 2007 #

    Surely Eddie Kidd!

    (Who as a child I used to get confused with Eartha Kitt!)

  12. 12
    Alix on 23 Feb 2007 #

    On the premature baby front, they are often the length of a ball point pen, a la http://english.pravda.ru/img/idb/smallest-baby.jpg

  13. 13
    Kevin O'Sullivan on 17 Apr 2007 #

    Another unit that is creeping into use and getting rid of the old kilowatt hour.
    A TV left on standby and it is always given as 25 Watts.

    I have measured many tellys and they range from

  14. 14
    Kevin O'Sullivan on 17 Apr 2007 #

    Have a look at this web site for the O2 dome.
    Clearly the journo’ is a fan of silly units

  15. 15
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  35. 35
    Pete on 27 May 2009 #

    The comments started very weird, but made more sense towards the end.

    There’s always intestines for length, and occasionally cars or jumbo jets for weight/mass.

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