A Guide to Imperial Measurements with Matt Parker | Earth Lab
It has recently been brought to my attention
that my video on the A4 paper scale I made an apparently unwarranted number of attacks
on the imperial system of measurement and I would like to, entirely voluntary, to apologize.
Why wouldn’t you take a barley corn, as the basis of your system of measurement should
you be, I don’t know, hypothetically, an industrialised modern superpower. And to apologize I’m now
going to give you the NumberHub guide to the imperial measurement system. Because it all
hangs together so nicely! You take three barley corns that gives you an inch, you take 12
inches that gives you a foot, you take three feet and it gives you a yard, you take 1760
yards you get a mile. A mile alternatively you can split into eighths, each eighth of
a mile is a furlong, of those furlongs you can divide them into tenths and you get a
Gunter’s chain. Each Gunter’s chain you can divide into elevenths and that gives you a
fathom, if you take 15 fathoms you get a shackles or alternatively if you take 100 fathoms you
get a cable. If you take 10 cables you get a nautical mile, a nautical mile of course
being wildly different to a standard mile. If you take three nautical miles you get a
league, or alternatively if you take a nautical mile and split it into feet you get 6,080
feet. We’re back at feet, if you take a foot and divide it in thirds you get a hand, of
course a hand is exactly a third the size of a foot, each hand if you cut it in half
you get a stick, each stick if you cut it in half you get an inch. Each inch, if you
take three of them together you get a palm; a palm split into quarters gives you a digit.
Three digits give you a nail, four nails give you a span, two spans give you a cubit, a
cubit divided into thirds gives you a shatments, why wouldn’t you call something a shatments?
If you take five shatments you get a pace, if you take two paces you get a step, of course
two paces to the step, if you take four steps you get a rope, if you take five ropes you
get a Ramsdens Chain, if you take 50 Ramsdens Chains you get a roman mile. The roman mile
of course wildly different from the standard mile. Because while the Roman mile is exactly
60,000 inches, the standard mile is 63,360 inches. Speaking of inches, if you take an
inch and divide it into six you get picas, if you take picas and divide it into twelfths
you get a point. If you take a point and divide it into 20th you get twips, or alternatively
if you take six points you get a line, a line is exactly the same length as a poppy seed.
And if you take four poppy seeds you’re right back where we stared. Four poppy seeds equals
one barley corn. What a fantastically logically and consistent system of units.
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