Saturday, September 18, 2010

Scientists have a way with names.

I'm just going to quote directly from Wikipedia:

A barn is a serious unit of area used by nuclear physicists to quantify the scattering cross-section of very small particles, such as atomic nuclei. It is one of the very few units which are accepted to be used with SI units, and one of the most recent units to have been established. One barn is equal to 1.0 × 10-28 m2. The name derives from the folk expression "Couldn't hit the broad side of a barn", used by particle accelerator physicists to refer to the difficulty of achieving a collision between particles. The outhouse (1.0 × 10-6 barns) and shed (1.0 × 10-24 barns) are derived by analogy.


Anonymous said...

Well, who would have guessed that those heavy, dark rimmed, atomic scientist glasses hide a knee slapping sense of humor. Kind of a dry wit, admittedly, but funny all the same.

Perhaps in a future post you could enlighten us on other units of measurement like the MegaFonzie and the Smoot.

Simon said...

Hahaha. I wish scientists would adopt those as units of measurement, especially the MegaFonzie. But I suppose one doesn't often have to measure Cool scientifically. And it's so relative... the inevitable controversy might tear apart academia.