What is a smoot?

If you’ve ever explored the options in the excellent Ruler tool in Google Earth, you’ll notice that it has a variety measurement units: meters, inches, feet, miles, etc, and also “smoots”. What on earth is a smoot?
Hazel Caplen recently posted a helpful story on Google+ that explains the history of the smoot.

smoots.jpg

View from the Harvard Bridge in Boston with the smoot marks visible in the foreground. One smoot = 5′ 7″, around 1.70 m, the height of Oliver Smoot, the student who, as a prank, was used to measure the length of the bridge in 1958. This turned out to be “364.4 smoots plus or minus one ear”. The smoot marks are repainted every year by students.

You can read more about the “smoot” on Wikipedia or this Lambda Chi page on the MiT website.
Thanks Hazel for sharing this story!

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.



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