Saturday, 21 February 2015

Units of measurement

When did the football pitch, a London bus, Nelsons’ column and the Eiffel tower, become the official standard unit of measurement?
As long as four football pitches
Why do news stories always tell you it is about the length of so many football pitches or so many times the height of the Eiffel tower rather than giving it in some kind of recognised measure like the metre or the yard?    I believe they are still currently used when actually planning and building such things as football stadiums and such.
I personally have no idea how big a football pitch is. I avoided sport at school as often as I could get away with it, being rather puny, and have done so ever since.  My knowledge of football extends to subbuto or those machines where the players are all on metal rods, so to me a football pitch is about six foot long at most.
 OK, so if you are really interested you can look up the height or length of the thing used to describe whatever it is in the news and then do the sums but, if they only have such a vague way of describing things, why not say, ‘it is yay big’, stretching out their hands, or it is humongously tall, it would be just about as meaningful.

  ( apologies to the Telegraph Newspapers whos ship picture I have used)


  1. Sadly, you are in the minority. The vast majority of people can't imagine how long 225 yards is (or even worse - 225 metres). You only have to consider how close the morons on the motorway drive behind you to realise they have no concept of distance. But people CAN imagine the height of a double decker bus, the length of three cricket pitches (66 yards - or three chains if you'd prefer) or 'enough to fill a swimming pool'.
    This is, or course, what I do for a living. I have to write reports about complex scientific work in terms that an average person can understand. It isn't easy!

  2. I am such strong visual learner that I appreciate all the help I can get when trying to understand something. If you were to teach young children you might be quite surprised how differently children learn -- and so many teachers don't make allowances for this. I had one student who was such a strong aural learner that he would pass oral quizzes and fail open book tests. ( Not sure if they do open book tests in British schools. I don't recall ever doing one -- or giving one.)

  3. That boat looks like it's made out of Lego!

  4. Oops I'm guilty of using those units of measurement. I work on HMS Belfast & regularly tell kids that it is 2 football pitches long. They get it. Embarrassingly I don't know how long it actually is in any standard measurement.

    1. I suppose it must help people visualise a size, but a real measurement would be useful for us pedants. I used to work regularly in HMS St Vincent, but since most of that was underground, I have no idea how large it was, particularly since my pass did not allow me into all of it..