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Smoot

The smoot is a nonstandard, humorous unit of length created as part of an MIT fraternity prank. It is named after Oliver R. Smoot, a fraternity pledge to Lambda Chi Alpha, who in October 1958 lay down repeatedly on the Harvard Bridge (between Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts) so that his fraternity brothers could use his height to measure the length of the bridge.

Smoot
"364.4 SMOOTS ± 1 EAR" painted on the Harvard Bridge sidewalk
General information
Named afterOliver R. Smoot
Conversions
1 smoot in ...... is equal to ...
imperial/US units5 ft 7 in
SI units1.702 m
This article is about the non-standard unit of measure. For other uses, see Smoot (disambiguation).

Contents

One smoot is equal to Oliver Smoot's height at the time of the prank, 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m). The bridge's length was measured to be 364.4 smoots (2,035 ft; 620.1 m) "+/− 1 εar" with the "+/−" showing measurement uncertainty and spelt with an epsilon to further indicate possible error in the measurement. Over the years the "+/−" portion and "ε" spelling have gone astray in many citations, including some markings at the site itself, but the "+/−" is recorded on a 50th-anniversary plaque at the bridge's end.

Harvard Bridge plaque on the history of the Smoot

Oliver Smoot was selected because he was the pledge deemed shortest and "most scientifically named." To implement his use as a unit of measure, Smoot repeatedly lay down on the bridge, let his companions mark his new position in chalk or paint, and then got up again. Eventually, he got tired from so much exercise and was carried thereafter by the fraternity brothers to each new position.

Oliver Smoot graduated from MIT with the class of 1962, became a lawyer, and later became chairman of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI, 2001–02) and then, president of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO, 2003–04). He is the cousin of Nobel Prize in Physics winner George Smoot.

Public knowledge and interest in the story began when Holiday investigated the marks on the bridge years later, and published an interview with Smoot. The prank's fiftieth anniversary was commemorated on October 4, 2008 as Smoot Celebration Day at MIT, which Smoot attended.

In 2011, "smoot" was one of the 10,000 new words added to the fifth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary.

A 2016 April Fools' Day article by the MIT Alumni Association announced that MIT would recalibrate the smoot to 65.7500 inches (1.67005 m) and the ear to 2.48031 inches (62.999874 mm), and bridge would thus be 372 smoots give or take 11 ears.

On May 7, 2016, Oliver Smoot served as Grand Marshal of the alumni parade across the bridge, celebrating the 100th anniversary of MIT's move from Boston to Cambridge.

100-smoot mark with the Charles River and Cambridge in the background

The bridge is marked with painted markings indicating how many smoots there are from where the sidewalk begins on the Boston river bank, and with a number every ten smoots. The marks are repainted each semester by the incoming associate member class (similar to pledge class) of Lambda Chi Alpha.

Markings typically appear every 10 smoots, but additional marks appear at other numbers in between. For example, the 70-smoot mark is accompanied by a mark for 69. The 182.2-smoot mark is accompanied by the words "Halfway to Hell" and an arrow pointing towards MIT. In recent years graduating classes have begun to paint a special mark for their graduating year.[citation needed]

The markings are recognized as milestones on the bridge, to the degree that during bridge renovations in the 1980s, the Cambridge police department requested that the markings be restored, as they were routinely used in police reports to identify locations on the bridge. The renovators at the Massachusetts Highway Department went one better, scoring the concrete surface of the sidewalk on the bridge at 5-foot-7-inch (1.70 m) intervals instead of the conventional 6 feet (1.8 m). The Lambda Zeta (MIT) chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, which created the smoot markings, continues to repaint the markings once or twice per year.

Google Calculator also incorporates smoots, which it reckons at exactly 67 inches (1.7018 meter). Google also offered the smoot as an optional unit of measurement in their Google Earth software and Google Maps distance measurement tool. In 2014, Google introduced a new Maps interface with a measurement tool that gives distances only in miles and feet or kilometers and meters, but kept smoots as an option in Google Earth.

MIT's student-run college radio station, WMBR, broadcasts at a wavelength of 2 smoots (88.1 MHz).

  1. Curran, Susan. "Spotlight: A salute to Smoot". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on June 20, 2015. RetrievedAugust 13, 2015.
  2. Google: "1 smoot in inches"
  3. Durant, Elizabeth (June 23, 2008). "Smoot's Legacy". MIT Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ... so they added the plus or minus, and wrote the e in ear as an epsilon. "The epsilon referred in a cutesy way to this error measurement," [Smoot] says. And therein lies another detail that has evolved over time: the epsilon has been lost from written accounts of the story, Smoot says, and the minus sign is often omitted as well.
  4. Tavernor, Robert (2007). "Preface".Smoot's Ear: The Measure of Humanity. Yale University Press. pp. xi–xvi. ISBN 978-0-300-12492-7.
  5. "Smoot in Stone". MIT News. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. June 4, 2009. RetrievedJuly 20, 2010. Specifically noting the bridge's length of 364.4 Smoots (+/− 1 ear), the plaque, a gift of the MIT Class of 1962, honors the prank's 50th anniversary.
  6. Gillooly, Patrick (September 24, 2008), Smoot reflects on his measurement feat as 50th anniversary nears, Massachusetts Institute of Technology News Office, retrievedJuly 10, 2020
  7. Kostoulas, Andy (October 12, 1999). "This Month In MIT History". The Tech. RetrievedApril 18, 2009.
  8. MIT Celebrates 50th Smoot-aversary with Party, Volunteerism, & Plaque. Oct. 4, 2008
  9. Speakers Bureau: Oliver R. Smoot, American National Standards Institute, retrievedJuly 10, 2020
  10. ANSI Reception Honoring Oliver R. Smoot as ISO President(PDF), February 26, 2003
  11. Cornish, Audie (November 13, 2011). "Looking Up Words In A Book Not So Strange Yet". National Public Radio. RetrievedDecember 10, 2012.
  12. "American Heritage Dictionary entry". American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. RetrievedDecember 10, 2012.
  13. London, Jay (April 1, 2016), "MIT to Recalibrate the Smoot", Slice of MIT, MIT Alumni Association, retrievedJuly 10, 2020
  14. Fleming, Nicole (May 7, 2016). "By land and by water, MIT celebrates 100 years in Cambridge". Boston Globe. RetrievedMay 9, 2016.
  15. MIT Trivia: Harvard Bridge, MIT Museum, archived from the original on August 6, 1997, retrievedJuly 10, 2020
  16. Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) (1987). Harvard Bridge, Spanning Charles River at Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Suffolk County, MA. Philadelphia: Department of the Interior. p. 5. RetrievedMay 12, 2009.
  17. Fahrenthold, David A. "The Measure of This Man Is in the Smoot". The Washington Post. RetrievedMay 23, 2010.
  18. Keyser describes his top five hacks - MIT News Office
  19. Google Maps distance measurement tool
  20. Wolfram|Alpha Can't [@wacnt] (June 13, 2017). "W|A can: WMBR frequency * smoot / speed of light" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

Smoot
Smoot Language Watch Edit The smoot ˈ s m uː t is a nonstandard humorous unit of length created as part of an MIT fraternity prank It is named after Oliver R Smoot a fraternity pledge to Lambda Chi Alpha who in October 1958 lay down repeatedly on the Harvard Bridge between Boston and Cambridge Massachusetts so that his fraternity brothers could use his height to measure the length of the bridge 1 Smoot 364 4 SMOOTS 1 EAR painted on the Harvard Bridge sidewalkGeneral informationNamed afterOliver R SmootConversions1 smoot in is equal to imperial US units 5 ft 7 in SI units 1 702 mThis article is about the non standard unit of measure For other uses see Smoot disambiguation Contents 1 Description 2 History 3 Practical use 4 See also 5 References 6 External linksDescription EditOne smoot is equal to Oliver Smoot s height at the time of the prank 5 feet 7 inches 1 70 m 2 The bridge s length was measured to be 364 4 smoots 2 035 ft 620 1 m 1 ear with the showing measurement uncertainty and spelt with an epsilon to further indicate possible error in the measurement 3 4 Over the years the portion and e spelling have gone astray in many citations including some markings at the site itself but the is recorded on a 50th anniversary plaque at the bridge s end 5 History Edit Harvard Bridge plaque on the history of the Smoot Oliver Smoot was selected because he was the pledge deemed shortest and most scientifically named 6 To implement his use as a unit of measure Smoot repeatedly lay down on the bridge let his companions mark his new position in chalk or paint and then got up again Eventually he got tired from so much exercise and was carried thereafter by the fraternity brothers to each new position 7 8 Oliver Smoot graduated from MIT with the class of 1962 became a lawyer and later became chairman of the American National Standards Institute ANSI 2001 02 9 and then president of the International Organization for Standardization ISO 2003 04 1 10 He is the cousin of Nobel Prize in Physics winner George Smoot Public knowledge and interest in the story began when Holiday investigated the marks on the bridge years later and published an interview with Smoot 6 The prank s fiftieth anniversary was commemorated on October 4 2008 as Smoot Celebration Day at MIT which Smoot attended 8 In 2011 smoot was one of the 10 000 new words added to the fifth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary 11 12 A 2016 April Fools Day article by the MIT Alumni Association announced that MIT would recalibrate the smoot to 65 7500 inches 1 67005 m and the ear to 2 48031 inches 62 999874 mm and bridge would thus be 372 smoots give or take 11 ears 13 On May 7 2016 Oliver Smoot served as Grand Marshal of the alumni parade across the bridge celebrating the 100th anniversary of MIT s move from Boston to Cambridge 14 Practical use Edit 100 smoot mark with the Charles River and Cambridge in the background The bridge is marked with painted markings indicating how many smoots there are from where the sidewalk begins on the Boston river bank and with a number every ten smoots 15 The marks are repainted each semester by the incoming associate member class similar to pledge class of Lambda Chi Alpha 16 Markings typically appear every 10 smoots but additional marks appear at other numbers in between For example the 70 smoot mark is accompanied by a mark for 69 The 182 2 smoot mark is accompanied by the words Halfway to Hell and an arrow pointing towards MIT In recent years graduating classes have begun to paint a special mark for their graduating year citation needed The markings are recognized as milestones on the bridge to the degree that during bridge renovations in the 1980s the Cambridge police department requested that the markings be restored as they were routinely used in police reports to identify locations on the bridge The renovators at the Massachusetts Highway Department went one better scoring the concrete surface of the sidewalk on the bridge at 5 foot 7 inch 1 70 m intervals instead of the conventional 6 feet 1 8 m 17 The Lambda Zeta MIT chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha which created the smoot markings continues to repaint the markings once or twice per year 18 Google Calculator also incorporates smoots which it reckons at exactly 67 inches 1 7018 meter 2 Google also offered the smoot as an optional unit of measurement in their Google Earth software and Google Maps distance measurement tool 19 In 2014 Google introduced a new Maps interface with a measurement tool that gives distances only in miles and feet or kilometers and meters but kept smoots as an option in Google Earth MIT s student run college radio station WMBR broadcasts at a wavelength of 2 smoots 88 1 MHz 20 See also EditList of humorous units of measurement List of unusual units of measurementReferences Edit a b Curran Susan Spotlight A salute to Smoot Massachusetts Institute of Technology Archived from the original on June 20 2015 Retrieved August 13 2015 a b Google 1 smoot in inches Durant Elizabeth June 23 2008 Smoot s Legacy MIT Technology Review Massachusetts Institute of Technology so they added the plus or minus and wrote the e in ear as an epsilon The epsilon referred in a cutesy way to this error measurement Smoot says And therein lies another detail that has evolved over time the epsilon has been lost from written accounts of the story Smoot says and the minus sign is often omitted as well Tavernor Robert 2007 Preface Smoot s Ear The Measure of Humanity Yale University Press pp xi xvi ISBN 978 0 300 12492 7 Smoot in Stone MIT News Cambridge Massachusetts Massachusetts Institute of Technology June 4 2009 Retrieved July 20 2010 Specifically noting the bridge s length of 364 4 Smoots 1 ear the plaque a gift of the MIT Class of 1962 honors the prank s 50th anniversary a b Gillooly Patrick September 24 2008 Smoot reflects on his measurement feat as 50th anniversary nears Massachusetts Institute of Technology News Office retrieved July 10 2020 Kostoulas Andy October 12 1999 This Month In MIT History The Tech Retrieved April 18 2009 a b MIT Celebrates 50th Smoot aversary with Party Volunteerism amp Plaque Oct 4 2008 Speakers Bureau Oliver R Smoot American National Standards Institute retrieved July 10 2020 ANSI Reception Honoring Oliver R Smoot as ISO President PDF February 26 2003 Cornish Audie November 13 2011 Looking Up Words In A Book Not So Strange Yet National Public Radio Retrieved December 10 2012 American Heritage Dictionary entry American Heritage Dictionary Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company Retrieved December 10 2012 London Jay April 1 2016 MIT to Recalibrate the Smoot Slice of MIT MIT Alumni Association retrieved July 10 2020 Fleming Nicole May 7 2016 By land and by water MIT celebrates 100 years in Cambridge Boston Globe Retrieved May 9 2016 MIT Trivia Harvard Bridge MIT Museum archived from the original on August 6 1997 retrieved July 10 2020 Historic American Engineering Record HAER 1987 Harvard Bridge Spanning Charles River at Massachusetts Avenue Boston Suffolk County MA Philadelphia Department of the Interior p 5 Retrieved May 12 2009 Fahrenthold David A The Measure of This Man Is in the Smoot The Washington Post Retrieved May 23 2010 Keyser describes his top five hacks MIT News Office Google Maps distance measurement tool Wolfram Alpha Can t wacnt June 13 2017 W A can WMBR frequency smoot speed of light Tweet via Twitter External links EditThe smoot as a unit of length smoot Sizes com Retrieved July 8 2010 The Smoot story in Oliver Smoot s own words MIT Museum article with photos at the Wayback Machine archived August 6 1997 A December 2005 National Public Radio Interview with Oliver Smoot upon his retirement What s A Smoot NPR org Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Smoot amp oldid 1049742043, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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