The Smoot is a unit of length, defined as the height in 1958 of Oliver R. Smoot, who later became the Chairman of the American National Standard Institute (ANSI, and then the president of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The unit is used to measure the length of the Harvard Bridge. Originally in 1958 when Smoot was a Lambda Chi Alpha pledge at MIT (class of 1962), the bridge was measured to be 364.4 Smoots, plus or minus one ear, using Mr. Smoot himself as a ruler. At the time, Smoot was 5 feet, 7 inches, Β or 170cm tall.Β Google Earth and Calculator both include the smoot as a unit of measurement.

The Cambridge, Mass. police department adopted the convention of using Smoots to measure the locations of accidents and incidents on the bridge. When the original markings were removed or covered over during bridge maintenance, the police had to request that someone reapply the Smoot scale markings.Β During a major bridge rebuild, the concrete sidewalk was permanently divided into segments one Smoot in length, as opposed to the regular division of six feet.

i’d love to have measurement named after me –

how many ‘peaches’ equal the length of a subaru?

“measure what can be measured, and make measurable what cannot be measured.”

-galileo galilei



photo credits: MIT alum

77 responses »

  1. I don’t know about ‘smoots’ but my mother and her generation had a unit of time called ‘a jiff’, an undefined length but usually used in the term, ‘I’ll be there in a jiff’ πŸ™‚ origin unknown πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Now I know, thanks to you, Beth. It’s amazing that the guy who gave the bridge its singular Smoot measurement went on to oversee the highest organization of national standardization. You really can’t make this stuff up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this! And the faces of everyone measuring the bridge in Smoots!

    And the answer for how long a Subaru is in “Peaches” depends on the make and model of course! My guess would be 3 Peaches, give or take, depending. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love that measurement (I have not heard about it before), thank you for sharing! You can create your own scale, share it, and it could very well become a thing for generations to come. Think about Scoville who created the “hotness” measure for peppers… It really can be anything πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: smoot. – marketing business

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s