# Unusual Units of Measurement

### LENGTH:

##### Siriometer

The siriometer is a rarely used astronomical measurement. It is equivalent to 1 million astronomical units — which is equivalent to 1 million times the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. This distance measures to about 15.8 light years, or 4.8 parsecs, and is roughly twice the distance from Earth to the star Sirius.

##### Horse

Horses are used to measure distances in horse racing. A “horse” length is equivalent to 8 feet (or 2.4 meters). When measuring shorter distancing, they are measured in fractions of “horses”, and other common measurements are that of a full or fraction of a “head”, “neck”, or a “nose”.

### AREA:

##### Barn

No, not that kind of barn! One barn is equivalent to 10−28 square meters, which is roughly the size of the cross-sectional area of a uranium nucleus; definitely much smaller than a barn pictured above. The name “barn” for this measurement likely comes from early neutron-deflection experiments, when the uranium nucleus was described as being “big as a barn” and the phrase “hit a barn door” were used. Barn measurements are typically used for cross sections in particle and nuclear physics.

### VOLUME:

##### Cord and rick

The cord is a unit of measurement used in the US and Canada for dry volume to measure things such as pulpwood and firewood. A cord is equivalent to such an amount of wood that when the arranged to be aligned, parallel, and touching and compact, has a volume of 128 cubic feet. Correspondingly, this yields a well-stacked woodpile that is 4 feet deep by 4 feet high by 8 feet wide. A “rick” is an even more unusual measurement for firewood, and it is stacked 16 inches deep by 4 feet high by 8 feet wide — which is typically 1/3 of a cord.

### TIME:

##### Shake

Wait, not that kind of shake! In term of measurements, the shake is used in astrophysics and nuclear engineering. It is defined as 10 nanoseconds. Call that a shake in time!

##### Jiffy

Sorry, we are not talking about peanut butter in this case! The “jiffy” is used in computing, and is the duration of one tick of the system timer interrupt. This is usually equivalent to 0.01 seconds.

I hope you enjoyed learning about those abnormal units of measurement. There are plenty others that are used, such as dog years! Hmmm.. Which makes me wonder, is there such thing as cat years?

###### Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unusual_units_of_measurement

Devi is an undergraduate at Georgia Tech studying computer science. In her free time, she enjoys jogging, cooking and baking new things, jamming to vinyls and music, and gazing at the stars. Devi also loves cats!! (meow)