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, or 170cm tall. 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. 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.”
photo credits: MIT alum