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October 6th, 2006

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12:17 pm - the measuring of the smoot bridge

Ed Symkus has posted, on the Boston Sci-Fi Marathon board, a great two part interview he had with Oliver Smoot several years ago. For the outtatownas in the audience, Oliver Smoot was the MIT freshman pledge whose body was used by his fraternity brothers, in 1958, as a unit of measurement for the Massachusetts Avenue bridge across the Charles River in Boston. The official measurement of the bridge, now commonly referred to as "The Smoot Bridge", is 364.4 Smoots (plus one ear.)

Interview Part 1 | Interview Part 2

Appropriately enough, Mr. Smoot, now retired, went on to serve as chairman of the American National Standards Institute, though it is not known if he ever proposed to bring the Smoot (approximately 5.667 feet) into accepted and official usage. A distant relative of his, also an MIT alum, just won the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics.

(8 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 6th, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:October 6th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
Eh. I can't get it to report the actual length of the bridge (384.4 + 1 ear smoots ). Its CLOSE, but not quite right. =)
Date:October 6th, 2006 05:32 pm (UTC)
I hope to goodness they officially rename that bridge for Mr. Smoot after he dies.
[User Picture]
Date:October 6th, 2006 06:10 pm (UTC)
So did they really remeasure in New Smoots or was that just an urban legend?

I would think if it was really the guy's son, he would have mentioned it in the interview...
[User Picture]
Date:October 6th, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, I read that too. I wonder.
[User Picture]
Date:October 6th, 2006 08:25 pm (UTC)
According to this Metafilter post, his daughter was too short, and his son was too tall.
[User Picture]
Date:October 6th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
Smoot's son did go to MIT at some point. I knew him in high school--he was in my physics class. But I don't think he was the same height as his father.
[User Picture]
Date:October 7th, 2006 12:06 am (UTC)
God this town is nerdy.

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