History Main / UnitConfusion

25th Jun '17 3:13:09 PM BTD6_maker
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* Comedian [[http://drpetecomedy.com Dr. Pete Ludovice]] has a routine where he suggests that men try to invoke UnitConfusion by reporting their [[GagPenis penis size in nanometers]].
** There is a joke where a woman is telling her friend about a guy's penis and claims it's 700 nanometers. The other woman is astonished that it's so small, but the first woman replies that the penis is that red (the wavelength of the color red is 620750 nm). Somewhat of a subversion--both use the same system of measurement, and it's used correctly, but the ''context'' was what was missing.

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* Comedian [[http://drpetecomedy.com Dr. Pete Ludovice]] has a routine where he suggests that men try to invoke UnitConfusion by reporting their [[GagPenis penis size in nanometers]].
nanometres]].
** There is a joke where a woman is telling her friend about a guy's penis and claims it's 700 nanometers.nanometres. The other woman is astonished that it's so small, but the first woman replies that the penis is that red (the wavelength of the color red is 620750 nm). Somewhat of a subversion--both use the same system of measurement, and it's used correctly, but the ''context'' was what was missing.



* In the second ''Film/{{Taxi}}'' film, a policeman's French dialogue indicates that the protagonist's souped-up taxi was traveling at '200 kilomètres à l'heure' (200 kilometers per hour). In the English subtitles, this is [[BlindIdiotTranslation blindly translated]] as '200 miles an hour'. It has no bearing on the plot, but it credits the vehicle as going much faster than it really is (124 miles per hour).

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* In the second ''Film/{{Taxi}}'' film, a policeman's French dialogue indicates that the protagonist's souped-up taxi was traveling at '200 kilomètres à l'heure' (200 kilometers kilometres per hour). In the English subtitles, this is [[BlindIdiotTranslation blindly translated]] as '200 miles an hour'. It has no bearing on the plot, but it credits the vehicle as going much faster than it really is (124 miles per hour).



** Many people like to sound clever by pointing out that ''Literature/TwentyThousandLeaguesUnderTheSea'' is 60,000 miles, and thus impossibly deep (the deepest part of the ocean is less than 3 leagues down), but this figure is the distance traveled in the book, not the depth they reach. But "Twenty Thousand Leagues Whilst Under The Sea" isn't quite as pithy. Verne consistently used a metric league (lieue, if you wish) of exactly 4 km in his works, thus the name translates into 80,000 km or ~50,000 statute miles, or almost exactly double circumnavigation (there's only a single one in the book, due to inevitable deviations from the shortest route). However this again brings the confusion as in Belgium the metric lieue is defined differently than in France and corresponds to five kilometers instead of four.

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** Many people like to sound clever by pointing out that ''Literature/TwentyThousandLeaguesUnderTheSea'' is 60,000 miles, and thus impossibly deep (the deepest part of the ocean is less than 3 leagues down), but this figure is the distance traveled in the book, not the depth they reach. But "Twenty Thousand Leagues Whilst Under The Sea" isn't quite as pithy. Verne consistently used a metric league (lieue, if you wish) of exactly 4 km in his works, thus the name translates into 80,000 km or ~50,000 statute miles, or almost exactly double circumnavigation (there's only a single one in the book, due to inevitable deviations from the shortest route). However this again brings the confusion as in Belgium the metric lieue is defined differently than in France and corresponds to five kilometers kilometres instead of four.



* In the original version of Creator/MarionZimmerBradley's ''[[Literature/{{Darkover}} The Bloody Sun]]'', the protagonist is told that his matrix jewel can probably emit "only a few grams of energy." It ''could'' make sense since [[UsefulNotes/{{Relativity}} mass and energy are equivalent]] (''E''=''mc''[-[[superscript:2]]-]). But the speed of light is so large (300 megameters per second) that even a few grams of mass, converted to energy, would be tremendous. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima released as much energy as about 15 thousand tons of TNT ... by converting less than ''one'' gram of mass into energy.

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* In the original version of Creator/MarionZimmerBradley's ''[[Literature/{{Darkover}} The Bloody Sun]]'', the protagonist is told that his matrix jewel can probably emit "only a few grams of energy." It ''could'' make sense since [[UsefulNotes/{{Relativity}} mass and energy are equivalent]] (''E''=''mc''[-[[superscript:2]]-]). But the speed of light is so large (300 megameters megametres per second) that even a few grams of mass, converted to energy, would be tremendous. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima released as much energy as about 15 thousand tons of TNT ... by converting less than ''one'' gram of mass into energy.



* NeverTrustATrailer: The inside flaps of the dust jacket of ''Literature/{{Eon}}'' by Creator/GregBear has the protagonists going a million "kilometers" into the future. In units used by nuclear and particle physicists (the speed of light is one, a pure number, making one second equal to 300,000 kilometers) this corresponds to going 3.3 seconds into the future, a time even TheSlowPath [[CaptainObvious reaches rather quickly]]. Fortunately, the book refers to a million kilometers in a completely different manner.

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* NeverTrustATrailer: The inside flaps of the dust jacket of ''Literature/{{Eon}}'' by Creator/GregBear has the protagonists going a million "kilometers" into the future. In units used by nuclear and particle physicists (the speed of light is one, a pure number, making one second equal to 300,000 kilometers) kilometres) this corresponds to going 3.3 seconds into the future, a time even TheSlowPath [[CaptainObvious reaches rather quickly]]. Fortunately, the book refers to a million kilometers kilometres in a completely different manner.



* ''Series/{{Bones}}'' once referred to "Force in Newton-Meters." Unfortunately, the newton-meter is a unit of ''torque'', equivalent to one joule per radian. The Newton-meter is also a unit of energy equivalent to the joule (as radians are dimensionless); in this case, the meter is the linear distance over which the force is applied rather than the distance from the fulcrum. Nevertheless, it's still not a unit of force, which is simply Newtons. However, force can be measured using a ''device'' called a "Newton meter", thus is can be measured ''by Newton meters'', but not ''in Newton-meters''.

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* ''Series/{{Bones}}'' once referred to "Force in Newton-Meters." Unfortunately, the newton-meter newton-metre is a unit of ''torque'', equivalent to one joule per radian. The Newton-meter Newton-metre is also a unit of energy equivalent to the joule (as radians are dimensionless); in this case, the meter metre is the linear distance over which the force is applied rather than the distance from the fulcrum. Nevertheless, it's still not a unit of force, which is simply Newtons. However, force can be measured using a ''device'' called a "Newton meter", thus is can be measured ''by Newton meters'', but not ''in Newton-meters''.Newton-metres''.



** Better yet the angstrom is equal to a tenth of a nanometre and is used because its about ''the diameter of an atom''. So 4000 angstroms is only 0.4 micrometers, or less than a bacterium (which are between 1 and 10 microns) long.

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** Better yet the angstrom is equal to a tenth of a nanometre and is used because its about ''the diameter of an atom''. So 4000 angstroms is only 0.4 micrometers, micrometres, or less than a bacterium (which are between 1 and 10 microns) long.



* In an episode of the Australian series ''Series/ShipToShore'', a report (later revealed to be false) came in of a tsunami 30 feet (10 meters) high came in. Since some of the older islanders still used [[UsefulNotes/AmericanCustomaryMeasurements imperial units]], the confusion snowballed to the point that the wave was supposedly 900 meters (3000 feet) high, and the islanders prepared for Armageddon.

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* In an episode of the Australian series ''Series/ShipToShore'', a report (later revealed to be false) came in of a tsunami 30 feet (10 meters) metres) high came in. Since some of the older islanders still used [[UsefulNotes/AmericanCustomaryMeasurements imperial units]], the confusion snowballed to the point that the wave was supposedly 900 meters metres (3000 feet) high, and the islanders prepared for Armageddon.



* The ''Series/{{CSI}}'' episode "Overload" includes, among its many atrocities against physics, Grissom confidently stating that "terminal velocity is 9.8 meters per second squared". High school physics should be enough to know that meters per second squared measure acceleration, not velocity (terminal or other).

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* The ''Series/{{CSI}}'' episode "Overload" includes, among its many atrocities against physics, Grissom confidently stating that "terminal velocity is 9.8 meters per second squared". High school physics should be enough to know that meters metres per second squared measure acceleration, not velocity (terminal or other).



** They can't even keep that much straight. Centimeters get used from time to time, generally for weapons. More confusingly the abbreviation mps is used to talk about mile per second despite the fact that even people in the US think of it as meters per second.

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** They can't even keep that much straight. Centimeters get used from time to time, generally for weapons. More confusingly the abbreviation mps is used to talk about mile per second despite the fact that even people in the US think of it as meters metres per second.



* An infamous example occurs in the lawnmowing minigame in ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'', where "square meter" has been [[CulturalTranslation culturally]] [[BlindIdiotTranslation "translated"]] into "acre" (roughly ''four thousand'' square meters).

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* An infamous example occurs in the lawnmowing minigame in ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'', where "square meter" has been [[CulturalTranslation culturally]] [[BlindIdiotTranslation "translated"]] into "acre" (roughly ''four thousand'' square meters).metres).



** Of course the Luminoth could also simply have a different definition of "cycle" than the Space Pirates. Compare Imperial Tons to Metric Tons. Making it an in-universe example of LostInTranslation.

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** Of course the Luminoth could also simply have a different definition of "cycle" than the Space Pirates. Compare Imperial Tons to Metric Tons.Tonnes. Making it an in-universe example of LostInTranslation.



* In 2004, Switzerland and Germany wanted to build a [[http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hochrheinbr%C3%BCcke bridge over the Rhine]], starting from both sides. To meet in the middle, they agreed to build it on a certain height above mean sea level. Unfortunately, the Germans measured in height above the North Sea, while the Swiss measured in height above the Mediterranean Sea, which differ by about 27 centimeters. The designers were aware of that difference, but the Swiss applied it the wrong way, building their abutment 54 cm too low. This was discovered relatively early, the plans modified and the situation of this [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-fIqLSm56A old cell phone ad]] was avoided.

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* In 2004, Switzerland and Germany wanted to build a [[http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hochrheinbr%C3%BCcke bridge over the Rhine]], starting from both sides. To meet in the middle, they agreed to build it on a certain height above mean sea level. Unfortunately, the Germans measured in height above the North Sea, while the Swiss measured in height above the Mediterranean Sea, which differ by about 27 centimeters.centimetres. The designers were aware of that difference, but the Swiss applied it the wrong way, building their abutment 54 cm too low. This was discovered relatively early, the plans modified and the situation of this [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-fIqLSm56A old cell phone ad]] was avoided.



** In Spain, however, the old "tonelada" unit corresponded to 20 ''quintales'' (920 kg). It's been long abandoned in favor of the SI unit, but for several decades, the latter was generally called "tonelada métrica" ("metric ton") to make it clear you meant one thousand kilograms.
* The shoe sizes [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoe_size are a complete quagmire]]. Not only do the shoe sizes depend of the country and culture, but also whether they are based on the foot size or last size (a last is the male "mould" upon which the shoe is made). The most common units are Mondopoint ((foot length and beam in millimetres), used on ski boots and by US armed forces), the EU sizing (1.5 times the length of the last in centimeters), US male shoe size (3 times the last length in inches minus 24), US female shoe size (3 times the last length in inches minus 22.5) and UK shoe size (approx 3 times the heel to toe length in inches minus 23). The UK sizes are one barleycorn (1/3 in or 8.47 mm) apart each other, while the EU sizes are 2/3 cm (6.6667 mm or 0.262 in). Mondopoint shoes are sized 5 mm apart, and they also take account the beam of the foot: 275/100 shoe is, while of same length (275 mm), 10 mm narrower than 275/110.

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** In Spain, however, the old "tonelada" unit corresponded to 20 ''quintales'' (920 kg). It's been long abandoned in favor of the SI unit, but for several decades, the latter was generally called "tonelada métrica" ("metric ton") tonne") to make it clear you meant one thousand kilograms.
* The shoe sizes [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoe_size are a complete quagmire]]. Not only do the shoe sizes depend of the country and culture, but also whether they are based on the foot size or last size (a last is the male "mould" upon which the shoe is made). The most common units are Mondopoint ((foot length and beam in millimetres), used on ski boots and by US armed forces), the EU sizing (1.5 times the length of the last in centimeters), centimetres), US male shoe size (3 times the last length in inches minus 24), US female shoe size (3 times the last length in inches minus 22.5) and UK shoe size (approx 3 times the heel to toe length in inches minus 23). The UK sizes are one barleycorn (1/3 in or 8.47 mm) apart each other, while the EU sizes are 2/3 cm (6.6667 mm or 0.262 in). Mondopoint shoes are sized 5 mm apart, and they also take account the beam of the foot: 275/100 shoe is, while of same length (275 mm), 10 mm narrower than 275/110.
25th Jun '17 5:28:32 AM passivesmoking
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Added DiffLines:

** Another thing Jezza was fond of doing was using "torque" without specifying what unit (pound feet, newton metres, etc) he was giving the torque figure in, and instead treating the word "torque" as a unit of measurement in and of itself. He would also pluralise the word "torque". "This new supercharged doodad has over 500 torques!" PlayedForLaughs, obviously.
18th Apr '17 5:15:38 PM Amahn
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Added DiffLines:

** Of course the Luminoth could also simply have a different definition of "cycle" than the Space Pirates. Compare Imperial Tons to Metric Tons. Making it an in-universe example of LostInTranslation.
31st Mar '17 4:39:36 PM bombadil211
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** Fortunately, due to [[AcePilot supreme skill of the pilots]] and some good luck they managed to land the powerless plane (that's why it's known as ''Glider'') on the former RCAF Gimli airbase, where one of the pilots was stationed back in his military days, and managed not to hit the drag races held on the runway they landed on, so [[EverybodyLives nobody got hurt]] both on plane and on the ground. Note that in later simulator re-creations of the circumstances with other flight crews, ''every one'' ended with a fatal crash.

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** Fortunately, due to [[AcePilot supreme skill There was an extreme level of the pilots]] and some good luck they managed to land involved in the flight having no fatalities. The captain happened to be a glider pilot (and thus knew about the unique requirements of powerless plane (that's why it's known as ''Glider'') on flight) and the first officer happened to be a former RCAF Gimli airbase, where one of the pilots pilot who was stationed back in his military days, at RCAF Gimli, a nearby (decommissioned) airbase. The base had been converted into a race track and the pilots managed not to hit the drag races held on the runway they landed on, so [[EverybodyLives nobody got hurt]] both on plane and on the ground. Note that in later simulator re-creations of the circumstances with other flight crews, ''every one'' ended with a fatal crash.
30th Mar '17 3:30:22 PM DarkHunter
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* Parodied in ''WebAnimation/StarWreck, where the twist in the maggothole (''sic!'') is stated to be several mega-parsec-seconds in the Finnish original, and googol-fluxoms in English translation. Naturally, neither of those make any sense.

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* Parodied in ''WebAnimation/StarWreck, ''WebAnimation/StarWreck'', where the twist in the maggothole (''sic!'') (''sic'') is stated to be several mega-parsec-seconds in the Finnish original, and googol-fluxoms in English translation. Naturally, neither of those make any sense.
16th Mar '17 6:49:14 AM morane
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* The shoe sizes [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoe_size are a complete quagmire]]. Not only do the shoe sizes depend of the country and culture, but also whether they are based on the foot size or last size (a last is the male "mould" upon which the shoe is made). The most common units are Mondopoint (foot length and beam in millimetres), used on ski boots and by US armed forces, the EU sizing (1.5 times the length of the last in centimeters), US male shoe size (3 times the last length in inches minus 24), US female shoe size (3 times the last length in inches minus 22.5) and UK shoe size (approx 3 times the heel to toe length in inches minus 23). The UK sizes are one barleycorn apart each other.

to:

* The shoe sizes [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoe_size are a complete quagmire]]. Not only do the shoe sizes depend of the country and culture, but also whether they are based on the foot size or last size (a last is the male "mould" upon which the shoe is made). The most common units are Mondopoint (foot ((foot length and beam in millimetres), used on ski boots and by US armed forces, forces), the EU sizing (1.5 times the length of the last in centimeters), US male shoe size (3 times the last length in inches minus 24), US female shoe size (3 times the last length in inches minus 22.5) and UK shoe size (approx 3 times the heel to toe length in inches minus 23). The UK sizes are one barleycorn (1/3 in or 8.47 mm) apart each other.other, while the EU sizes are 2/3 cm (6.6667 mm or 0.262 in). Mondopoint shoes are sized 5 mm apart, and they also take account the beam of the foot: 275/100 shoe is, while of same length (275 mm), 10 mm narrower than 275/110.
16th Mar '17 6:39:57 AM morane
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Added DiffLines:

* The shoe sizes [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoe_size are a complete quagmire]]. Not only do the shoe sizes depend of the country and culture, but also whether they are based on the foot size or last size (a last is the male "mould" upon which the shoe is made). The most common units are Mondopoint (foot length and beam in millimetres), used on ski boots and by US armed forces, the EU sizing (1.5 times the length of the last in centimeters), US male shoe size (3 times the last length in inches minus 24), US female shoe size (3 times the last length in inches minus 22.5) and UK shoe size (approx 3 times the heel to toe length in inches minus 23). The UK sizes are one barleycorn apart each other.
15th Mar '17 4:23:07 PM StatuesqueChinchilline
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*** That bit Steve Jackson at least gets correct. The abbreviation for metres prer second is m/s or ms[[ssuperscript:-1]].

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*** That bit Steve Jackson at least gets correct. The abbreviation for metres prer second is m/s or ms[[ssuperscript:-1]].
ms[[superscript:-1]].
15th Mar '17 4:22:18 PM StatuesqueChinchilline
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*** That bit Steve Jackson at least gets correct. The abbreviation for meters per second is m/s and nothing else.

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*** That bit Steve Jackson at least gets correct. The abbreviation for meters per metres prer second is m/s and nothing else.or ms[[ssuperscript:-1]].
3rd Mar '17 10:59:58 PM Micah
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* In the folk song "The Frozen Logger", the title character freezes to death when the temperature reaches "a thousand degrees below zero"; though no units of temperature are specified, there are no commonly used units that go that low. As the song is a Myth/PaulBunyan-esque tall tale, this is entirely appropriate to its tone.
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