Credit: s1rena • Source: ThinkStock

Being the only country on earth not using the metric system to measure stuff can make things confusing.

Auto mechanics need both metric and American wrenches and tools to work of domestic and foreign vehicles.

But there are those times when you need to measure stuff but you are fresh out of rulers, tape measures or other measuring tools.

Here are some ways to make due until you get a more accurate tool.

Fun Facts About Measuring

  • Step one is learning the measurement of your finger span and your foot from toe to heel. Spread your fingers out over a ruler and find the measure from your thumb to your little finger and commit that to memory.
  • Step two is to learn both the length of your foot and the length of heel to toe then heel to toe again.
  • With these two measurements you can either add or multiply to find various dimensions needed.
  • The distance from the tip of your thumb to the first knuckle can be used to approximate one inch or 2.45 cm.
  • Roman merchants would measure yards of cloth by using the tip of their noses to the tips of their outstretched arms would be close to 36 inches or 91.44 cm.
  • If you ever wondered what Noah used to measure a “cubit” to build the ark, you would measure the distance from your bent elbow to the tip of your middle finger or about 18 inches or 46cm. This measurement also came in handy building the pyramids.
  • Sailors used a length of rope between their outstretched arms to measure a fathom or 72 inches or 183cm.
  • The height of horses is measured in “hands.” This is the distance across your joints just above the palm not including the thumb or about 4 inches or 10cm.
  • A woman’s size 9 foot measures about 10 inches or 25cm long.
  • If you have a normal business card it would measure 3.5 inches long by 2 inches wide.
  • A standard credit card is 3 3/8 inches by 2 1/8 inches.
  • A good ole American dollar bill that is 6 1/6 inches long by 2 7/12 inches tall. Harder to counterfeit? Who comes up with these measurements? Seven twelves of an inch??
  • A penny is about ¾ of an inch across and a quarter is just slightly less than 1 inch.
  • Most common doorways are 6 foot eight inches high.
  • The common dining room table is 30 inches high. The chairs are 15-17 inches from the floor.

Some Final Thoughts

I will give you the answer to the measurement question I get most often.
A femtobarn (fb) is 0.0000000000000001 of a barn, making it 10^-39 sq cm.

And an inverse femtobarn is 1 divided by a femtobarn (fb^-1), which is a handy way of measuring the number of collisions inside a particle accelerator for a given cross-sectional area of things to collide.

You just don’t get info like that in other blogs. Don’t try to thank me.

On a standard piece of paper this blog is about 8 ½ by 12 inches approximately.