When Units Collide

In that case, I want my car speedo calibrated in Heisenbergs… inaccurately of course (or I’ll never know where I am). :smiley:

Snork. That reminds me of the Cecil article most deserving of a permanent place in the cult classic hall of fame. In my opinion Cecil’s work is every bit of genius as the Monty Python Philosopher Song.

The story of Schroedinger’s cat (an epic poem).

Perhaps using a Tesla turbine like device, well insulated, and a large power input. [Underlining added.]

Doesn’t microwave heating do essentially the same thing by increasing the energy level of the water molecules?

You have 1/1000 of a wife?

One of my favorites: Schroedinger’s doggerel. :smiley:


frickin’ decimal points. :rolleyes:

There was a contest in Omni (or was it Games) magazine years ago to come up with similar units. I remember a few:

1 Pentacost = 5 Holocausts

2000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won Ton

and other such groaners. I had a physics professor in college who drew a picture of a short centipede and asked the class what it was. “A centipede?” “No, it’s a centimeter”.

He then flipped it upside down so the legs were sticking up. “Now it’s a dying centimeter…urg!” (say it out loud and if you groan you are a geek).

Except that Newton never left England and I’m fairly sure offhand that Pascal never crossed the Channel in the opposite direction. Furthermore, Newton spent his first eighteen years in provincial obscurity, venturing little beyond Woolsthorpe and Grantham, then the next year as a lowly first-year undergrad at Cambridge. Had they by some chance met, then it’d be the sort of story that’d have appealed to Newton’s early 18th century contemporaries and been recorded by the likes of Stukeley and Voltaire. No such meeting was remembered.

Good catch. And relevant in that I’d estimate that there’s a fair chance he also met Weber, Hertz and Siemens, but it’s seems very unlikely that she could have.

A couple of other units that might be mentioned are the einstein (1879-1955), and the darwin (1809-1882), the unit of evolutionary change (defined as 2.718 units of change/million years).


Are you certain you want that?

It’s a unit of electrical inductance, a measurement of the energy that can be stored in the expanding magnetic field around a coil through which a changing current is passing. I think.

I now think there should be a unit called the Davy, and I keep wondering what it would measure.

Perhaps anti-gravy?

Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956)

Of course. Though I may perforce revise my opinion when I get it.

10[sup]3[/sup] whales = 1 kilowhale

10[sup]12[/sup] pins = 1 terapin

$10[sup]-5[/sup] = 1 millicent


Yes, but did Mendoza, Uecker, John, and Schneid ever meet?

Batting averages under a certain point are under the Mendoza line.

If you are as high in the stadium as you can go, you’re in the Bob Uecker seats.

Tommy John gave his name to a unit of surgery. “Poor guy, he’s had two Tommy Johns.”

If you score your first point, you are “off the Schneid.”

I will skip a step and admit that I don’t know who Mendoza and Schneid are/were.

Mario Mendoza, a shortstop in the 1970s.

Schneid is short for schneider, and entered baseball from the game of gin, where it means to prevent an opponent from gaining any points. Schneider is German/Yiddish for tailor, the sense apparently being to cut someone off from scoring.

The Helen is the unit of beauty, defined such that 1.000 is necessary to launch a thousand ships. So:
1 milli-Helen is the beauty necessary to launch 1 ship.
-1 milli-Helen is the ugliness necessary to sink 1 ship.

… etc

Thanks to all for their replies; it’s interesting how there was a golden period of unit-naming in the mid-19th century and consequently many of the much smaller pool of individuals involved in science at the time did meet.

I’ve always thought it was unfair that Einstein didn’t get a unit. Of course, I never thought to actually check if he did or not. Ignorance fought. I always assumed the lumen was from the Greek or Latin or something for “light” but then I suppose that would be “luc-” not “lum-”… interesting.

David Feldman said that “off the schneider” means to actually score. He explained that a “schneider” is actually a cloth-cutter, so to get “off the schneider” means to be promoted, as it were; in this case, from loser to contender. (This can be found in Who Put the Butter in Butterfly, his book about language.)

Which makes no sense, because I’d always been told that a schneider was a tailor and had never heard the cloth-cutting meaning until I read Feldman’s book. For that matter, I’ve never heard the phrase “off the schneider” actually used except in discussions about the phrase. Unless there is an alternate meaning, in which case never mind.


The English phrase might be a partial translation of the German phrase aus dem Schneider (literally, out of the/off the tailor). The general meaning of the phrase is being “off the hook” for something (i.e. not having to fear adverse consequences) or having achieved enough, and the specific meaning in the Skat card game is scoring more than 30 points.

Schneider in German literally means cutter but in fact means tailor. A mere cloth cutter would be a Zuschneider.

The explanations that I read for the aus dem Schneider phrase were essentially that tailors were reputed to be slight, unmuscular, even crippled people (who were too weak for more energetic work), and that Schneider was used to refer, by extension, to a slight person and, by extension from that, to a small quantity.

Quoth Colibri:

Could you elaborate a bit on this? The definition as you state it here seems to be both circular and inconsistent. The 2.718 suggests to me that there’s something exponential going on, but I’m not sure how that would manifest.