How Many Smoots To A Mile?

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The Smoot can be found on Google Earth and Google Calculator. It’s a unit of distance named after Oliver R. Smoot, the five-foot-seven-inch Chairman of the American National Standards Institute and President of the International Organization for Standardization.

In 1958 Smoot was a pledge for the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at MIT. As part of their initiation, a group of pledges was tasked with measuring the length of Harvard Bridge using one of their members as a ruler. Smoot, the shortest at 5 feet 7 inches, was chosen to make the task more arduous.

The measurement was performed at night with Smoot lying down, the position of his head marked, and then Smoot would get up, move one smoot and lie down again. After a hundred times or so, he became tired and they just dragged him to the next position.

The strange marking on the bridge caught the people’s fancy and each year Lambda Chi Alpha pledges repainted the original markings.

As MIT graduates have found jobs throughout industry, smoots are turning up in a lot of unusual places. Type “1 mile in smoots” into Google’s search bar and you get “1 mile = 945.671642 smoots.”

H/T: NPR, Warwick Cairns.

28 thoughts on “How Many Smoots To A Mile?”

  1. Anon nurse,
    Thanks for creating a new unit of measurement!
    Outstanding! I never knew math Gould be so much fun!

  2. 931.8195 rafflaws = 1 mile

    earth circumference = 141,100.4857 rafflaws

    distance to the moon = 1,353,443.4083 rafflaws

    distance to the sun = 5.27×10^8 rafflaws

    1 rafflaw = 1.727 meters

    1 rafflaw = 172.730 centimeters

    1 rafflaw = 1727.302 millimeters

    578.7 rafflaws = 1 kilometer

    radius of a hydrogen atom = 3.064×10^-11 rafflaws

  3. lottakatz,

    Math question 😉 :

    If 1 mile = 945.671642 smoots, and 1 rafflaw = 1 smoot + 1 inch, then how many rafflaws = 1 mile?

  4. Anon nurse, that was a great link; Newton(?) would be proud!

    (Feel free to correct the attribution- no math please) 🙂

  5. Jo,

    You are welcome….I got interested in these type of things while at UT….Folks would do body outlines on or near steps for no reason at all and …..sometimes they were done about the time Charles Whitman…I think its Whitman….did his shooting from the Towers…

  6. Smoot? Smoot!
    His name what a hoot!
    He’s up and he’s down,
    All the way across town
    We measured our route
    By the inimatable Smoot.

    Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

Comments are closed.