When we were visiting DH’s old haunts in Boston one of the things he wanted to show me had to do with those wild and crazy kids from MIT (of which he is one – explains a few things I’d say but don’t tell him I said that). On the Harvard bridge you will see these marks of “measurement” which involve a fraternity pledging prank.
The prank involved the frat boys using one Oliver R. Smoot as the measuring stick to measure the bridge. He layed on the bridge from Boston to Cambridge, Mass. with his frat brothers marking off his then height of 5’7″ to measure the length. The Smoot is a “nonstandard unit of length” with the “plus or minus” intended to express uncertainty of measurement. This prank took place in 1958 but the marks are repainted each semester by the incoming associate member class (similar to pledge class) of Lambda Chi Alpha – the fraternity.
Google also uses the smoot as an optional unit of measurement in their Google Earth software and Google Maps distance measurement tool. Cool!
(To see my post about Father’s Day and caregiving please visit my other blog here Happy Father’s Day to all of you Dads)