Way back in 1958, the MIT chapter of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity used pledge Oliver R. Smoot to measure the Harvard Bridge in Massachusetts, coining the smoot as a unit of measurement in the process — one smoot equaling 5 feet, 7 inches. Smoot (the man) lay down on the bridge, his position was marked, and he moved on (or was moved on — eventually, he was so tired from the movement that his frat brothers carried him), until the bridge was established as being 364.4 smoots, plus or minus an ear, in length. Appropriately, Smoot would later become chairman of the American National Standards Institute.

via 11 Ways Geeks Measure the World | GeekDad | Wired.com.