16 August 2018

Some interesting and uncommon measurement units.

How many of these do you know? Google up the ones you did not know. It is a lot of fun to learn about about the names came about. If you are too lazy, I will post the answers tomorrow…

What do the following measure and how are they defined?

1. Donkey Power
2. Wheaton
3. Helen
4. Garn
5. Hobo Power
6. Mickey
7. Dol
8. Crab
9. Beard-second
10. Barn

Adding a bonus question – What is a New York Second?(remembered that after reading Narayan’s comment about cab rate)

Posted August 16, 2018 by Rajib Roy in category "Word Play


  1. By rajibroy (Post author) on

    Now for the answers

    1. A donkey power is 250 watts – or about one third of a horse power. I guess this was arrived at to look down upon the donkeys.
    2. A Wheaton is half a million Twitter followers. Obviously it is a a very new unit. This is named after the celebrity Will Wheaton. If you have 1000 Twitter followers, you can claim to 2 milliwheatons!
    3. Helen – derived from Helen of Troy – is the amount of beauty required to launch a thousand ships. And there is such a thing called a millihelen – in case your beauty can launch but one ship.
    4. I am not sure how often it is used but in NASA, one Garn (named after Senator Garn who would often get sick during space travel tests) is a measure of seasickness. And one garn would imply that you are completely incapacitated.
    5. Hobo Power is a unit of stench. Ostensibly referring to the smell of hobos (homeless people). 100 Hobos is bad enough that you will die of asphyxiation.
    6. You know how your computer mouse often refuses to respond even when you move it on a surface? Well, one mickey is the minimum distance you need to move a mouse for the computer to be able to detect it. While it of course depends on the equipment, it is roughly a tenth of a millimeter.
    7. Dol – with the roots in “Dolor” – Latin word for pain – is an unit of pain. Not sure how they define it. The literature says one dol is defined as “one noticeable difference” in pain. Go figure!
    8. Crab – believe it or not is actually an unit of intensity of radiation. Usually of objects in space. I believe this was named after the Crab Nebula.
    9. A beard second – as the name suggests is the distance an average beard grows in a second. I guess somebody felt the urge to define the other spectrum of a light year. In any case, it is about 10 nanometers.
    10. And finally a barn – while it might conjure up pictures of large structures, it is actually a very very tiny amount of area. 10 to the power of minus 28 meter squared! It is used mostly by particle physicists.

    And the bonus question: A New York Second is the time elapsed between the signal turning green and the taxi behind you honking! Usually used to denote a very small period of time!!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.