Strange units of measurement

Sometimes, I wonder who even figures out stuff like this.  And why.


Conservationists discussing the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest often use “Belgium” as an approximate measure of how much forest is being lost annually. The area of the country of Belgium is 30,528 km².


The unit of happiness, coined by Dave Gorman in his television series Important Astrology Experiment. One Happy is equal to how much happier you feel if someone gives you a pound coin, which is equivalent to how less happy they feel upon relinquishing it.


The amount of beauty that can launch one thousand ships. Usually used as the millihelen, the amount of beauty that can launch one ship.

Named after the fictional Helen of Troy, from the Iliad. Inspired by Marlowe‘s line from the play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships…?”.

Negative values have also been observed—these, of course, are measured by the number of ships sunk or the number of clocks stopped.

Microhelens are, as one-tenth of the beauty required to motivate one sailor, sometimes given as the units for the common rating-out-of-ten scale of beauty.

There are plenty more, including coffee, jiffy, donkey-power (and hobo-power), and some that are just unfathomable.