Extreme times calls for ‘extreme measures’

Published on August 26th, 2011
Extreme times calls for 'extreme measures'

You’ve heard of kilometres and litres, but have you heard of a mickey, a jiffy or the dol? You may remember this from one of our issues back in 2008, but we thought we’d refresh your memory.

A mickey is the smallest movement of a mouse that your computer can detect.
It is usually about 0,1 mm. 10 mickeys = 1 millimetres. That’s the width of a credit card, or how much your hair grows in three days.

You know when somebody’s giving you a recipe and they say, ‘Add a dash of salt’? Turns out a dash is exactly 0,000616 litres – or 0,6 millilitres. 10 dashes = 6 millilitres. That’s a slightly heaped teaspoonful.

A nibble is four bits. Computers think in binary code, which is a series of 0s and 1s. These are called bits (a bit is either a 0 or a 1). Eight bits are called a byte. 10 nibbles = 40 bits. That’s approximately how much memory a computer uses to store one word in Word.

A dol is a measure of pain. It comes from the Latin word for pain: dolor. In 1940, a professor studying the effects of pain-relieving medicines used dols to measure pain. 10 dols = the maximum amount of pain a person can endure. That’s like keeping your hand in a fire.

A Gillette is how powerful a laser is. When lasers were invented, scientists would see how many Gillette razor blades they could burn through. 10 Gillettes = a laser that can burn through about 7 mm of steel. The first laser was 2 Gillettes in strength.

A jiffy is 0,01 seconds, based on how long it takes for a computer to remind itself what it is doing at any given time. 10 jiffies = 0,1 seconds. A photon (light particle) travels 29 000 km in a jiffy.

This sure puts saying, “back in a jiffy” in perspective doesn’t it?!

This interesting article comes from the July 2008 issue.

Pic credit: Tenuki Handcrafts

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