5.30591e+10 beard-seconds

It’s about time for the next part in my series about units of length measurement and this time I’ve decided to go for one of my favourites: the beard-second.

I had not heard of this particular unit until I came across it in the Google Maps DMT, but it is sufficiently established to appear in a Wikipedia article (albeit not a page unto itself).  This doesn’t go into great detail (or, indeed, any detail) about its history but defines it to be the length an average beard grows in one second.  There are at least a couple of more precise definitions in terms of established units – 1 beard-second is either 100 angstrom (which is the same as 10 nanometres) or 5 nanometres.  Apparently Google uses the latter definition for its calculations.

This unit is supposedly inspired by the light-year but useful for very small distances instead of very large ones.

The span of the Menai Suspension Bridge, as measured with the Google DMT for the purposes of this blog series, is  5.30591×1010 beard-seconds (5.30591e+10 in the computer-friendly version of scientific notation, in case your browser doesn’t support the HTML5 <sup> tag).  If you’re not familiar with the notation, that means roughly 5 followed by ten zeroes (that is, about 5o billion in the American sense of the word, which seems to be becoming accepted as the international standard version).  In other words, if I sat at one end of the bridge, I’d have to wait a very long time for my beard to grow long enough to reach the other end!

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