Definitions

hoppus foot

List of unusual units of measurement

This article describes unusual units of measurement that are sometimes used by anglophone scientists, especially physicists and mathematicians, and other technically-minded people such as engineers and programmers, as bits of dry humor combined with putative practical convenience. See also List of humorous units of measurement. For units that are primarily used in non-English-speaking countries, please see the article on units specific to that country, links to which can be found in Systems of measurement.

Systems of measurement

Most units of measurement are collected into various standards, such as the SI units (sometimes called the metre-kilogram-second system), the Imperial system (sometimes called the foot-pound-second system), as well as various older standards used in countries throughout the world. Some of these standards are strange in their own right.

MTS units

During the twentieth century, the Soviets and French briefly used a variant of the metric system where the base unit of mass was the tonne. This meant that a kilogram was a millitonne (mt). Conversely, some companies use the megagram (Mg), to avoid confusion with long or short tons.

FFF units

Unit Dimension Definition SI Value
furlong length 1/8 of a mile 201.168 m
firkin mass 9 Imperial gallons of water 40.91481 kg
fortnight time 14 days 1,209,600 s

Most countries use the International System of Units (SI). In contrast, the Furlong/Firkin/Fortnight system of units of measurement draws its attention by being conservative and off-beat at the same time.

One furlong per fortnight is very nearly 1 centimetre per minute (to within 1 part in 400). Indeed, if the inch were defined as 2.54 cm rather than 2.54 cm exactly, it would be 1 cm/min. Besides having the meaning of "any obscure unit", furlongs per fortnight have also served frequently in the classroom as an example on how to reduce a unit's fraction. The speed of light may be expressed as being roughly 1.8 terafurlongs per fortnight. More conveniently (albeit not necessarily more commonly) expressed as 1.8 mega-furlongs per micro-fortnight.

SI-imperial hybrids

In the U.S., new mongrel units are sometimes formed by a combination of traditional units, still widely used, and metric units. Thus, "grams per fluid ounce" and "grams per pound of bodyweight" are common units used in sports nutrition, for example to express the concentration of carbohydrate in a beverage.

A hybrid standard quantity used in mining is the assay ton (AT), which is as many milligrams as there are Troy ounces in a ton: 29.17 grams if the ton used is the short ton, and 32.67 g if the ton used is the long ton. So to find how many ounces of gold are in a ton of rock, one measures the number of milligrams of gold in an assay ton of rock.

There are also reports of engineers realizing the comfort of base-ten SI prefixes, combining them with Imperial or U.S. customary units instead of making the full switch, for example the kiloyard (914.4 m). The kip or kilopound is regularly used in structural engineering. Similarly, the kilofoot is quite common in U.S. telecommunication engineering, as significant distances in cable route planning are usually given in thousands of feet. Instruments like optical time-domain reflectometers usually have an option to display results in kilofeet. Perhaps most common is the use of the Mil, defined as one thousandth of an inch (25.4 µm), frequently used to measure the thickness of very thin materials like film and plastic sheeting. A related unit is the circular mil, used for measuring the thickness of wire.

In the UK it is still (2007) not uncommon to find the 'metric-foot' in use in the domestic refurbishment market. A metric foot is 30cm and usually it is used with lumber that is only available in metric-yards or 90cm multiples (See metric inch below).

A useful unit when working with optical pathway lengths in the lab is the one foot per nanosecond approximation for the speed of light. In electronic circuitry, where the speed of current flow is slightly slower, similar approximations can be used for 'signal races' in the circuitry. (See light nanosecond below.)

Derived units

There are some obscure metric units: with arbitrary units and prefixes, you can express a common unit with an unfamiliar term. Among physicists there is the in-joke replacing common units with uncommon units, as in velocity: metres per second = hertz per dioptre (Hz/dpt). In this case, the reciprocal values of metre and seconddioptre and hertz, respectively — are used to contrive the same unit. The becquerel could also be used instead of hertz, as it is a measure of aperiodic events per time, instead of the periodic events per time measured by the hertz.

Distance

Minutes

In the Philippines, particularly within Metro Manila, Filipinos estimate distance through minutes rather than by miles or the more common kilometers. This is attributed to the fact that Metro Manila traffic situation is by far one of the worst, perhaps only second to Thailand. Thus, the normal approximation will always skew or distort due to traffic constraints. For example, travel time from Points A to B is not X kilometers, rather Y minutes, wherein Y minutes is the amount of time perceived to be spent moving from Points A to B plus considering probable delays brought about by traffic among others (e.g. rain).

A similar phenomenon independently occurs in the southern region of the United States and in Atlantic Canada, where many locals discuss their distance from a destination in units of time rather than physical distance. This is not as much because of traffic but adopted from colloquial habits.

Length

Mickey

One mickey, named after the cartoon character Mickey Mouse is defined as the length of the "smallest detectable movement" of a computer mouse. Approximately equal to 0.1 mm, its precise size depends on the equipment used.

Attoparsec

Parsecs are used in astronomy to measure enormous interstellar distances. A parsec is approximately 3.26 light-years or about 3.085×1016 m. Combining it with the "atto-" prefix yields attoparsec (apc), a conveniently human-scaled unit of about 3.085 centimeters (about 1 7/32 inches) that has no obvious practical use.

Interestingly, 1 attoparsec/microfortnight is nearly 1 inch/second (the actual figure is about 1.0043 inches per second, or approximately 2.55 cm/s). See mathematical coincidences for a list of similar factoids.

Light-nanosecond

The light-nanosecond was popularized as a unit of distance by Grace Hopper as the distance which a photon could travel in one billionth of a second (roughly 30 cm or one foot): "The speed of light is one foot per nanosecond." In her speaking engagements, she was well-known for passing out light-nanoseconds of wire to the audience, and contrasting it with light-microseconds (a coil of wire 1,000 times as long) and light-picoseconds (ground black pepper). Over the course of her life, she had many motivations for this visual aid: including demonstrating the waste of sub-optimal programming, illustrating advances in computer speed, and simply giving young scientists and policy makers the ability to conceptualize the magnitude of very large and small numbers.

Metric inch

The international inch is defined to be exactly 25.4 mm. However, this is approximated to 25 mm, to give a "metric inch".

A metric inch was used in some Soviet computers when building from American blueprints. The resulting products would seem like their American models but components were not interchangeable.

The similarly derived metric foot (300 mm) was at one time used in the United Kingdom for some expensive materials. It was also briefly, during the metric changeover in the 1960s, the unit by which timber was sold; during this time wood could be bought neither in feet nor metres.

Storeys (stories)

All buildings are made up of storeys (stories in U.S. English), also referred to as floors or levels. In the United States, each storey is generally 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 metres). The number of storeys is used to express the height of a building or nonbuilding structure.

In Brazil, storeys (andares in Portuguese) are used mainly by the media as a proxy for 3 metres. It's normally employed in situations to express heights of buildings or elevations.

Double-decker bus

In Britain, newspapers and other media will frequently refer to lengths in comparison to the length or height of a London Routemaster double-decker bus. Popular topics for such comparison include the blue whale, the IMAX screen, and the diplodocus.

Football field

In the United States, this refers to the length of an American football field, which has a playing area 100 yards (91.44 meters) long. Including the end zones it is 120 yd (109.72 m), but as an informal length unit it is universally used to mean 100 yards, because this is easier to convert from formal measurements in feet or yards. This is often used by the American public media for the sizes of large buildings or parks: easily walkable but non-trivial distances. British media also frequently uses the football pitch for equivalent purposes, although soccer pitches are not of a fixed size, but instead can vary within defined limits of 90-120 m in length and 45-90 m in width (100-130 yards length and 50-100 yards width). The usual size of a football pitch is 105x68 m (115x75 yd) - also the size that a pitch has to be in the UEFA Champions League.

Tall buildings

In the USA, buildings such as the Empire State Building (1,470 ft - 449 m), Sears Tower (1,700 ft - 519 m), and Seattle Space Needle (600 ft - 184 m) are used as comparative measurements of height, as are the Statue of Liberty and Washington Monument. The Empire State Building (but not the others mentioned) is also used in Britain for describing particularly large/tall objects. The Eiffel Tower is also used in the US for the same purpose.

In the UK, the Eiffel Tower (324 m - 1,060 ft), Nelson's Column (61.5 m - 202 ft), Blackpool Tower (158 m - 520 ft) and Big Ben (more correctly "The Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster") (96.3m - 315.9 ft) are commonly used by British newspapers or reference books to give the comparative heights of buildings or, occasionally, mountains.

In Canada (and occasionally elsewhere), the Toronto CN Tower (1,810 ft - 553 m) is used in a similar fashion. In Western Canada, the Calgary Tower is often used as a comparison.

Block

A city block (in most U.S. cities) is between 1/16 and 1/8 mi (0.1 and 0.2 km). In Manhattan, the measurement "block" usually refers to a north-south block, which is 1/20 mi (0.08 km). Within a typical large North American city, it is often only possible to travel along east-west and north-south streets, so travel distance between two points is often given in the number of blocks east-west plus the number north-south (known to mathematicians as the Manhattan Metric).

Siriometer

The siriometer is a rarely used astronomical measure equal to one million astronomical units, i.e., one million times the average distance between the Sun and Earth. This distance is equal to about 15.8 light-years, about twice the distance from Earth to the star Sirius.

Circle of the earth

The circumference of a great circle of the earth (about 40,000 km / 25,000 mi / 21,600 nmi) is often compared to large distances. For example, one might say that a large number of objects laid end-to-end at the equator "would circle the earth four and a half times. According to WGS-84, the circumference of a circle through the poles (2x the length of a meridian) is 40,007,862.917 metres and the length of the equator is 40,075,016.686 m. Despite the fact that the difference (0.17%) between the two is insignificant at the low precision that these quantities are typically given to, it is nevertheless often specified as being at the equator.

Area

Barn

A barn is a unit of area used by nuclear physicists to quantify the scattering cross-section of very small particles, such as atomic nuclei. One barn is equal to 1.0 x 10-28 m².

Outhouse

An outhouse is a unit of area used by nuclear physicists. One outhouse is equal to 1.0 x 10−6 barns. The term was derived by analogy with the barn.

Shed

A shed is a unit of area used by nuclear physicists. One shed is equal to 1.0 x 10−24 barns. The term was derived by analogy with the barn.

Nanoacre

A nanoacre is a unit (about 4 mm²; ≈ 2.01168 mm wide, ≈ 2.01168 mm long) of real estate on a VLSI chip. "The term gets its humor from the fact that VLSI nanoacres have costs in the same range as real acres in Silicon Valley once one figures in design and fabrication-setup costs.

Football field

In many countries, a football pitch (association football field) is used as a man-in-the-street unit of area. It is necessarily restricted to order-of-magnitude comparisons by the fact that football pitches are officially allowed to vary by a factor of 2.67 in area (between 4,050 and 10,800 m², i.e. roughly 0.5 to 1 hectare) although this factor drops to 2.01 in the case of pitches approved for international matches. In the UEFA Champions League a football field must be exactly 105x68m, which is an area of 7,140 m². An American Football field, including both end zones, is 360 feet by 160 feet, or 57600 square feet (5,351.2 m²).

Various countries, regions, and cities

The area of a familiar country, state or city is often used as a unit of measure, especially in journalism.

Conservationists discussing the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest often use Belgium or Wyoming as an approximate measure of how much forest is being lost annually. The area of Belgium is 30,528 km².

In the United Kingdom, Wales, equal to 20,779 km², is used in phrases such as "an area the size of Wales" or "twice the area of Wales". England is 6.5 times the size of Wales, and Scotland is four times the size of Wales. The Isle of Wight (380 km²) is commonly used for smaller areas. The British comedy show The Eleven O'Clock Show parodied the use of this measurement, by introducing a news article about an earthquake in Wales, stating that an area the size of Wales was affected. It has also been humorously suggested that the "microWales" — an area of a little over two hectares or five acres — could be used to replace the football pitch as a rough unit of measurement for smaller areas. However, in strict SI terminology a microWales would equate to an area of approximately 20,000 m² (141 x 141 m).

In the United States, the areas of Rhode Island (1,545 sq mi), Texas (268,601 sq mi, commonly used due to its historic "larger than life" reputation), and rarely Alaska (656,425 sq mi) are used in a similar fashion. Antarctica's Larsen B ice shelf was approximately the size of Rhode Island until it broke up in 2002. Due to Rhode Island being a relatively small unit of measurement (and, perhaps, due to its area being 33% water), many comparisons to the size of Rhode Island are somewhat imprecise. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency uses Washington, D.C. as a comparison for city-sized objects.

In Finland, the region of Uusimaa (6,366 km²) is commonly used for area comparisons.

In Russia, France is often used as a comparison for regions of Siberia.() This was so popular in Soviet time that the phrase "как две Франции" (twice the size of France) became a stock phrase to denote any large area.

Volume

Board foot or super foot

A board foot is an American unit of volume, used for wood. It is equivalent to (). However, in practice, it is defined differently for hardwood and softwood. It is also found in the unit of density pounds per board foot. In Australia and New Zealand the terms super foot or superficial foot were formerly used for this unit.

Hoppus Foot

A system of measure for timber in the round (standing or felled), now largely superseded by the metric system except in measuring hardwoods in certain countries. Following the so-called "quarter-girth formula" (the square of one quarter of the circumference in inches multiplied by one 144th of the length in feet), the notional log is four feet in circumference, one inch of which yields the hoppus board foot, 1 foot yields the hoppus foot, and 50 feet yields a hoppus ton. The hoppus board foot, when milled, yields a board foot. The volume yielded by the quarter-girth formula is 78.5% of cubic measure.

Stère

The stère (st) is equal to a cubic metre or kilolitre. The stère is traditionally used to measure a quantity of wood.

Olympic-sized swimming pool

For larger volumes of liquid, one measure commonly used in the media in many countries is the Olympic-sized Swimming Pool. A large Olympic swimming pool with dimensions m holds 2.5 million litres, about 2 acre-feet or 1/200,000 of a sydharb.

Sydharb

A unit of volume used in Australia for water. One sydharb (or sydarb), also called a Sydney Harbour, is the amount of water in Sydney Harbour: approximately 500 gigalitres (about 400,000 acre-feet).

Nagan

A nagan is an informal unit of measurement of alcoholic spirits; generally for whiskey and vodka, but can be ported over to almost any other alcoholic drink. It is used almost exclusively in Ireland, but can be found in other nations with a celtic heritage, such as Scotland, and Wales.

Mass

Grave

In 1793, the French term "grave" (from "gravity") was suggested as the base unit of mass for the metric system. In 1795, however, due in no small part to the French Revolution, the name "kilogram" was adopted instead.

Slug

The slug is an English unit of mass. It is a mass that accelerates by 1 ft/s² when a force of one pound-force (lbf) is exerted on it.

Time

Shake

In nuclear engineering and astrophysics contexts, the shake (from "two shakes of a lamb's tail" is used as a conveniently short period of time. 1 shake = 10 nanoseconds.

Jiffy

In computing, the jiffy is the duration of one tick of the system timer interrupt. Typically, this time is 0.01 seconds, though in some earlier systems (such as the Commodore 8-bit machines) the jiffy was defined as 1/60 of a second, roughly equal to the vertical blanking interval on NTSC video hardware (and the frequency of AC electric power in North America).

Microfortnight

One very convenient unit deduced from the FFF system is the millionth part of the fundamental timeunit of FFF, which equals 1.2096 seconds, and is a typical example of computer nerd humour. As the story goes, "The VMS operating system has a lot of tuning parameters that you can set with the SYSGEN utility, and one of these is TIMEPROMPTWAIT, the time the system will wait for an operator to set the correct date and time at boot if it realizes that the current value is bogus. This time is specified in microfortnights".

The joke is in having a rather large unit (fortnight) combined with a fractional SI prefix (micro) to counteract that. The practical purpose is to discourage setting such parameters without some thought. The unit was selected because the time is only approximately one second, being established by some near-infinite loops rather than a real clock unit (which isn't active at the time), and rather than field complaints about this being "not exactly a second", the unit was invented.

Galactic year

The most common large-scale time scale is millions of years (Ma). However, for long-term measurements, this still requires rather large numbers. Using as a measure the time it takes for the solar system to revolve once around the galactic core (GY), approximately 250 Ma, yields some easily memorizable numbers. In this scale, oceans appeared on Earth after 4 GY, life began at 5 GY, and multicellular organisms first appeared at 15 GY. Dinosaurs went extinct about 0.4 GY ago, and the true age of mammals began about 0.2 GY ago. The age of the Earth is estimated at about 20 GY.

Other SI-compatible scales

Foe: Energy

A foe is a unit of energy equal to 1044 joules that was coined by physicist Gerry Brown of SUNY-Stony Brook. To measure the staggeringly immense amount of energy produced by a supernova, specialists occasionally use the "foe", an acronym derived from the phrase [ten to the power of] fifty-one ergs, or 1051 ergs. This unit of measure is convenient because a supernova typically releases about one foe of observable energy in a very short period of time (which can be measured in seconds).

Langley: Energy intensity

The langley (symbol Ly) is used to measure solar radiation or insolation. It is equal to one thermochemical calorie per square centimetre (4.184 J/m²) and was named after Samuel Pierpont Langley.

Stokes: Kinematic viscosity

One of the few CGS units to see wider use, one stokes (symbol S or St) is a unit of kinematic viscosity, defined as 1 cm²/s, ie. 10-4 m²/s.

Jansky: Electromagnetic flux

In radio astronomy, the unit of electromagnetic flux is the jansky (symbol Jy), equivalent to 10−26 watts per square metre per hertz (in base units 1 kg·s-4). It is named after the pioneering radio astronomer Karl Jansky. The brightest natural radio sources have flux densities of the order of one to one hundred jansky.

Metre of water equivalence

A material-dependent unit used in nuclear and particle physics and engineering to measure the thickness of shielding, for example around a reactor, accelerator, or detector. 1 mwe of a material is the thickness of that material that provides the equivalent shielding of one metre of water.

This unit is commonly used in underground science to express the extent to which the overburden (usually rock) shields an underground space or laboratory from cosmic rays. The actual thickness of overburden through which cosmic rays must traverse to reach the underground space varies as a function of direction due to the shape of the overburden, which may be a mountain, or a flat plain, or something more complex like a cliff side. To express the depth of an underground space in mwe (or kmwe for deep sites) as a single number, the convention is to use the depth beneath a flat overburden at sea level that gives the same overall cosmic ray muon flux in the space.

Units for unconventional measurements

Formal scientific measurements of abstract quantities such as 'Beauty', 'Happiness' and 'Comfort' are lacking and many humorists have stepped in to fill the void.

Warhol: Fame

This is a unit of fame or hype, derived from Andy Warhol's dictum "everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes" — it represents, naturally, fifteen minutes of fame. Some multiples are:

  • 1 kilowarhol — famous for 15,000 minutes, or 10.42 days. A sort of metric "nine day wonder".
  • 1 megawarhol — famous for 15 million minutes, or 28.5 years.

First used by Cullen Murphy in 1997.

Also used simply as meaning 15 minutes; as the Warhol worm, that could infect all vulnerable machines on the entire Internet in 15 minutes or less.

Encyclopedias, Bibles and The Library of Congress: Data storage capacities

When the compact disc began to be used as a data storage device, the CD-ROM, journalists had to compare the disc capacity (650 MB) to something everyone could imagine. Since many Western households have at least one Christian Bible, and the Bible is a comparatively long book, it was often chosen for this purpose. The King James Version of the Bible in uncompressed plain 8-bit text contains about 4.5 million characters, so a CD-ROM can store about 130 Bibles.

The Encyclopædia Britannica is another common data size metric — it contains approximately 300 million characters, so two copies would fit comfortably onto a CD-ROM.

The term Library of Congress is sometimes used as a unit of measurement when discussing large amounts of data. It refers to the U.S. Library of Congress. One Library of Congress is used as approximately 20 Terabytes of uncompressed textual data, or 10 Terabytes according to other uses.

In most cases, diagrams and photographs are not included in the total — since these take considerably more space than text, this would be an important consideration for practical storage of large book collections. In practice, diagrams can often be expressed more compactly using vector graphics, and data compression software can pack more text into the available space. It is possible to compress English text to about 11% of its original size. Thus one might claim that the entire Library of Congress could be packed onto a single 2.2 terabyte storage unit — excluding the pictures.

A similar unit of measure for early computers was phone numbers and phone books.

Gillette: Laser power

A unit described by Theodore Maiman as an early measure of laser output power. The measure was simply the number of razor blades through which the laser could burn a hole. This measurement was especially convenient as the first lasers were pulsed ruby lasers, making it otherwise difficult to measure the output power. Also, due to the relative uniformity of razor blades manufactured by The Gillette Company, it had some usefulness as a rough comparison.

Thus, scientists would brag about having a "4 Gillette" laser versus their competitor's puny "2 Gillette" laser. (For the record, Ted Maiman claims that the first laser was a "2 Gillette" laser.)

Unit of alcohol: Quantity of alcohol

In the UK, units of alcohol are used in the health industry and some government campaigns to measure the amount of alcohol consumed. One unit is approximately 10 cm³ of ethanol, or about 8 grams. The recommended weekly intake is no more than 14 units for women, and 21 units for men.

Sagan: Scalar

A whimsical unit of measure equalling at least 4,000,000,000. Based on the quote "billions of stars" used by Carl Sagan and popularized with the derivation "billions and billions of stars" by Johnny Carson.

Big Mac Index: Purchasing power parity

The Economist's Big Mac Index compares the purchasing power parity of countries in terms of the cost a Big Mac hamburger. This was felt to be a good measure of the prices of a basket of commodities in the local economy including labour, rent, meat, bread, cardboard, advertising, tomatoes etc..

A similar system used in the UK is the 'Mars Bar'. Tables of prices in Mars Bars have intermittently appeared in newspapers over the last 20 years, usually to illustrate changes in wages or prices over time without the confusion caused by inflation.

Garn

The Garn is NASA's unit of measure for symptoms resulting from space adaptation syndrome, the response of the human body to weightlessness in space. If an astronaut is completely incapacitated by space adaptation syndrome, he is under the effect of one Garn of symptoms.

KLOC: Computer program length

A computer programming expression, the KLOC, pronounced kay-lok, standing for "Kilo-Lines of Code", i.e. "Thousand Lines of Code". The unit is used, especially by IBM managers, to express the amount of work required to develop a piece of software. Given that estimates of 20 lines of functional bug-free code per day per programmer were often used, it is apparent that 1 KLOC could take one programmer as long as 50 working days, or 10 working weeks.

Nibble

A measure of quantity of data or information, the "nibble" (sometimes spelled "nybble" or "nybl") is equal to 4 bits, or one half of the common 8-bit byte. The nibble is used to describe the amount of memory used to store a digit of a number stored in packed decimal format, or to represent a single hexadecimal digit.

Nines

Numbers very close to, but below one are often expressed in nines (N - not to be confused with the unit newton), that is in the number of nines following the decimal separator in writing the number in question. For example, "three nines" or "3N" indicates 0.999 or 99.9%, "four nines five" or "4N5" is the expression for the number 0.99995 or 99.995%.

Typical areas of usage are:

  • the reliability of computer systems, that is the ratio of uptime to the sum of uptime and downtime. "Five nines" reliability in a continuously operated system means an average downtime of no more than approximately five minutes per year.
  • the purity of materials, such as gases and metals.

Proof: Alcohol concentration

Up to the 20th century, alcoholic spirits were assessed in the UK by mixing with gunpowder and testing the mixture to see if it would still burn; spirit that just passed the test was said to be at 100° proof. The UK now uses percentage alcohol by volume at 20°C, where spirit at 100° proof is approximately 57.15% ABV; the U.S. uses a proof number of twice the ABV at 60°F (15.5°C).

Savart: Audible frequency ratio

An 18th century unit for measuring the frequency ratio of two sounds, it is equal to 1/300 of an octave, or 1/25 of a semitone. Still used in some programs, but considered too rough for most purposes. Cent is preferred.

Scoville heat unit: Pepper hotness

The Scoville scale is a measure of the hotness of a chili pepper. It is the degree of dilution in sugar water of a specific chili pepper extract when a panel of 5 tasters can no longer detect its 'heat'. Pure capsaicin (the chemical responsible for the 'heat') has 1.6 × 107 Scoville heat units.

ASTA Pungency unit: Pepper hotness

ASTA (American Spice Trade Association) Pungency unit is based on a scientific method of measuring chili pepper 'heat'. The technique utilizes high performance liquid chromatography to identify and measure the concentrations of the various compounds that produce a heat sensation. Scoville units are roughly 15 times higher than Pungency units while measuring capsaicin, so a rough conversion is to multiply Pungency by 15 to obtain Scoville heat units.

Strontium unit: Radiation dose

The strontium unit, formerly known as the Sunshine Unit (symbol S.U.), is a unit of biological contamination by radioactive substances (specifically strontium-90). It is equal to one picocurie of Sr-90 per gram of body calcium. Since about 2% of the human body mass is calcium, and Sr-90 has a half-life of 28.78 years, releasing 6.697+2.282 MeV per disintegration, this works out to about 1.065 × 10-12 grays per second. The permissible body burden was established at 1,000 S.U.

Dol: Pain

The dol (from the Latin word for pain, dolor) is a unit of measurement for pain.

James D. Hardy, Herbert G. Wolff, and Helen Goodell of Cornell University proposed the unit based on their studies of pain during the 1940s-1950s. They defined one dol to equal to "just noticeable differences" (jnd's) in pain. The unit never came into widespread use and other methods are now used to assess the level of pain experienced by patients.

Erlang: Telecommunications traffic volume

The Erlang, named after A. K. Erlang, as a dimensionless unit is used in telephony as a statistical measure of the offered intensity of telecommunications traffic on a group of resources. Traffic of one Erlang refers to a single resource being in continuous use, or two channels being at fifty percent use, and so on, pro rata.

References

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