20 Strangest Units of Measurements That Are Actually Real

1Sheppey

Sheppey is a measure of distance that equals to about 7⁄8th of a mile (1.4 km), defined as the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque. The Sheppey is the creation of Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, included in The Meaning of Liff, their dictionary of putative meanings for words that are actually just place names.


2Thaum

The Thaum is a measuring unit used in the Terry Pratchett series of Discworld novels to quantify magic. It equals the amount of mystical energy required to conjure up one small white pigeon, or three normal-sized billiard balls.


3Economist's Big Mac Index

The Economist's Big Mac Index compares the purchasing power parity of countries in terms of the cost of a Big Mac hamburger. This was felt to be a good measure of the prices of a basket of commodities in the local economy including labor, rent, meat, bread, cardboard, advertising, lettuce, etc. The purchasing power of a country is measured in how many Big Macs could be bought in that country with $50 USD.


4Micromort

A Micromort is a unit of risk measuring a one-in-a-million probability of death. Micromorts can be used to measure the riskiness of various day-to-day activities. For example, smoking 1.4 cigarettes increases one's death risk by one micromort, as does traveling 230 miles by car.


5Popsicle Index

The Popsicle Index is a quality of life measurement based on the percentage of people in a community who believe that a child in their community can safely leave their home, walk to the nearest possible location to buy a popsicle, and walk back home.


6Pony

According to Encyclopedia Britannica Almanac 2009, a pony is 0.75 ounces.


7Morgen

A Morgen (morning in Dutch) was approximately the amount of land tillable by one man behind an ox in the morning hours of a day. This was an official unit of measurement in South Africa until the 1970s and was defined in November 2007 by the South African Law Society as having a conversion factor of 1 Morgen = 0.856 532 hectares.


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8Canard

A Canard is a standard unit of quackery. The Quackery index measures dubious health claims by how often words like ‘energy’, ‘holistic’, ‘vibrations’, ‘magnetic healing’, and ‘quantum’ are used in conjunction with other more skeptical words.


9Donkey Power

Donkey Power, an engineering unit is defined as 250 watts, about a third of a horsepower.


10Sydharb

The strangely named sydharb is a rough measurement for a large volume of water. It’s named after Sydney Harbor. One sydharb is roughly the amount of water in Sydney’s harbor area, about 562,000 mega-liters during high tide. The unit has never gained popularity outside of Australia.

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