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Instead of going with normal measurement unit names, fiction will make up their own. Expect a guide to have conversions between them and real units.

In some cases, especially Science Fiction or Sufficiently Analyzed Magic, units will have to be invented where they do not exist in normal speech. Magical energy is likely to have some unit. Particularly well developed settings may even specify what the unit is, for example, one Merlin might be defined as the magical energy required to push a specific object a specific distance.

Compare Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure, where a unit is scaled to a specific object. See Microts for units relating to time.

Examples of Fantastic Measurement System include:


Anime and Manga

  • Though it's never named, there obviously is a unit to measure one's strength in Dragon Ball. In the games it's often referenced as B.P. (Battle Power). In this system, the average human would rate 2-3. By the middle of Dragonball Z, the numbers we're dealing with are in the 'millions'. So yeah.
    • And as we all know, over 9000 of this unit is already... a lot.
  • In Trigun, distances are measured in "Iles," which are just "miles" with one letter removed.
    • Not to mention, the unit of money is called "Double Dollars", represented, of course, with "$$" (seems like just a waste of time and ink really)
  • When fans ask Eiichiro Oda things like the extent that someone who ate the Gomu-Gomu fruit can stretch, Oda's response is something along the lines of "100 Gomu-Gomus" without telling us how long a Gomu-Gomu is. He does the same thing for the Bara-Bara fruit and the Hana-Hana fruit, except the measures are in Bara-Baras and Hana-Hanas.

Comic Books

  • When Amadeus Cho studies magical phenomena, he measures the reality-warping field strength in "hercs", one herc being equal to the field strength of his friend Hercules. It sounds like "hertz" so it's pretty natural to tack on SI prefixes like megahercs or gigahercs, but most of the measurements he gives are between zero and five hercs.
  • The various Transformers franchises use various units of length and time. While they used generic "cycles" a lot, the earliest Cybertronian units of measurement had such names as "breem," "vorn," and "orn."

Fan Works

  • In With Strings Attached, the Baravadans have “longsteps”; how long these units are is never explained. Also, John's Kansael doesn't understand any Earth measurements and can't tell him how distant Ehndris is from Ta'akan; he figures out that the distance is roughly comparable to that between London and Glasgow. On the other hand, the Hunter's world uses miles.

Literature

  • On Gor, distances are measured in "passangs", which are 7/10ths of a mile.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom stories. According to The Other Wiki article, distance units were as follows:
    • 1 sofad = 11.68 inches
    • 1 ad = 9.75 feet
    • 1 haad = .3692 miles
    • 1 karad = 36.92 miles
  • In Harry Potter, the wizarding world uses a different system of money than the rest of the world, which consists of Galleons, Sickles and Knuts. There are 17 Sickles in a Galleon, and 29 Knuts in a Sickle. As of December 5th, 2010, one Galleon is worth about 5 British Pounds, or 7.82 U.S. Dollars.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe uses the metric system - called Imperial measurements, confusingly enough - in the Republic, New Republic, and the Empire. Others may use other systems - the Adumari use "keps", which are about .8 kilometers. In Outbound Flight, the Chiss use "visvia", which are about 1.6 kilometers. There are others.
  • In Moon Over Soho, Peter Grant is depressed that, despite being codified by Isaac Newton[1] himself, the rules of magic have no proper unit of measurement. He decides to invent one and call it the a "yap", a "yap" being the amount of magic need to make a small dog bark.
  • Similarly, the Discworld unit of magic is the thaum, defined as the amount of magic needed to create a white pigeon or three standard-sized billiard balls. There is also the prime, an attempt at a more rational unit created by the wizard Augustus Prime, which is defined as the amount of magic needed to move one pound of lead one foot. In a bit of a parody of how British scientists and academics act with Centigrade/Fahrenheit, it's mentioned in the Discworld Companion that any young wizard attempting to use primes will immediately face the question from his superiors "What's that in Old Money?" Perhaps because of this, thaums are nearly always cited as the unit in the books.
    • The Science of Discworld uses "splitting the thaum" as a fantastic version of splitting the atom, implying the thaum is actually a real distinct particle or entity rather than just an arbitrary measurement.
    • Continuing the temperature parody theme, younger wizards use a "thaumometer" (sounds like "thermomemter") to measure the strength of a magical field, while older wizards dismiss these modern gadgets and just lick their finger and hold it up--which causes it to sprout a coloured aura which lets them judge the background magic strength.
  • In Warrior Cats, the most common unit of measurement is a "tail-length", which is equivalent to about a foot. "Foxlength" - about a yard - is used occasionally as well, and on very rare occasions they'll use "kittenstep" (about an inch).

Live Action TV

  • Battlestar Galactica Classic (1970's): according to its The Other Wiki article, the only distance unit that wasn't an Earth name was "metron" (1 meter).
  • In Star Trek, a "kellicam" is a unit of length used by Klingons which is similar in magnitude to a kilometre.
    • Bajoran units of measurement include hecapate, kellipate, kerripate, linnipate, tessijen and tessipate.
    • Computer capacity is measured in "kiloquads", which are very carefully never defined to avoid looking outdated when Tech Marches On.
    • Star Trek has also had the forethought to come up with units for things that present-day science is physically incapable of measuring. "Cochranes" is apparently the metric unit for subspace flux (named for Zefram Cochrane, obviously).
  • In Red Dwarf, distances are measured in "gigooks", though how far this is is never indicated.
  • The Daleks of Doctor Who measure time in "rels".
    • Which, when we actually hear them using it, turns out to be exactly equal to one second.
  • James Mays Man Lab parodied the BBC's tendencies for using objects to express units of measure (see the Real Life section), at one point measuring the ascent of two weather balloons in "Mount Everests" and "Oz Clarkes".
  • Farscape is an excellent example, as apparently everyone in Peacekeeper space, as well as the Uncharted Territories uses "klance" (temperature); "dench", "henta", "samat", "milon", "metron", "motra" and "zacron" (distance); "hetch" (speed); "micron", "microt", "arn", "solar day", "weeken" and "cycle" (time). The fact that everyone seems to use these, even outside Peacekeeper space, might just be due to the Translator Microbes converting foreign measurements into units everyone can understand.

Magazines

  • "The Potrzebie System of Weights and Measurements," described in Mad #33, is largely similar to the metric system, but with different base units. The standard unit of length, the potrzebie, is defined as the thickness of Mad Magazine #26 (2.263348517438173216473 mm).

Real Life

  • The BBC (and other news sources) are noted for being fond of expressing measurements in terms of objects rather than any kind of units. In Britain these often include double-decker buses for length and football pitches for area, stepping up to 'the size of Wales' for larger areas, with slightly different ones being used in other countries. There's actually a fairly sensible reason for this, seeing as Britain has a somewhat peculiar relationship with the metric system; it's the only official system taught in schools, but businesses are perfectly entitled to use imperial ones for official purposes if they really want to and a surprising number still do. However, occasionally they throw in comparisons to things which surely the average person would have no idea about, such as "the volume of an Olympic swimming pool", "the size of a blue whale" and "the power of a Concorde".
    • Similarly, the CIA World Factbook expresses the size of every world country along the lines of "about the size of Texas" or "slightly smaller than Oregon" or occasionally "about twice the size of the Mall in Washington D.C." Justified, in that the CIA World Factbook is primarily written as a resource for US policy makers, and in any case the Factbook also gives the exact measurements in square kilometers.
    • Actually the World Factbook is mainly a public resource not a policy maker's resource, making the prioritizing of user-friendliness more understandable.
    • US news channels frequently give lengths and areas in terms of (American) football fields. They never specify whether or not they're including the end-zones, which is a significant difference, making this more confusing than clarifying.
  • The explosive power of very large explosions is measured in Hiroshimas, or occasionally in multiples of the sum total of all explosives used during World War Two.
  • Television meteorologists will give sizes of hail in much the same way, generally using sports equipment, usually ranging from golf ball-sized to softball-sized hail. One anecdotal case from the Ozarks had a person calling in about "cellphone sized hail" that had newscaster trying to guess whether they were thinking tiny flip-phones or huge Blackberries.
  • The Smoot, a measurement available in Google Earth.
  • Energy (or work, since it has the same SI dimensions) can be measured in Burning Libraries of Congress.
  • The stone-furlong-fortnight system (on the analogy of centimeter-gram-second and foot-pound-second) is an in-joke of science fiction fandom. If you are going to cling to "traditional" units, why not go ALL the way?
    • At the Millenium Philcon business meeting, a BNF who shall be nameless moved to amend an "X miles distance" clause to "2^10 furlongs". This was duly debated
      For: "It's fannish."
      Against: "It's stupid."
  • Helen from Greek mythology is said to be the face that launched a thousand ships (to rescue her when she was kidnapped). Thus, beauty is measured in millihelens - the amount of beauty needed to launch a single ship.

Tabletop Games

  • Early editions of AD&D rated encumbrance in "coins". Encumbrance, itself, was a vaguely-defined combination of actual weight and the awkwardness of carrying something.
  • In Spelljammer, all ships and equipment are measured in space tons. We know it's not the same as a landlubber "groundling" ton. Sadly, Unit Confusion in some sourcebooks raises to the level when it's not clear even whether a space ton is an unit of mass or volume.
  • In Traveller the "ton" is a unit of volume, equal to the volume of 1000kg (a metric ton) of liquid hydrogen.

Toys

  • Bionicle: "bios", "kios", and "mios" are units for distance used in the Matoran Universe. The distance units are as follows:
    • 1 bio = 4.5 feet = 1.37 meters
    • 1 kio = 1,000 bio = 4,500 feet/0.85 miles = 1.37 kilometers
    • 1 mio = 1,000 kio = 850 miles = 1,370 kilometers
      • Fridge Logic ensues when you wonder what they ever needed to measure in mio. The various islands of the setting are hundreds of kio in size at most.

Video Games

  • The force of the final Climax move in Bayonetta is measured in "Infinitons" (most other moves are measured in "Megatons" and "Gigatons"). Serial Escalation indeed, and possible Fridge Brilliance since the idea of different values of infinity is a real concept in mathematics. Or, y'know it just sounds cool.
  • Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: Kilamoles
  • The Source Engine uses "Hammer Units"
  • Whereas many MMOs will measure the distance of attacks (and thus, implicitly, all distances) in a unit that audiences would recognize, like meters, Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV have "ilms", "fulms", "yalms", and "malms" as their units of measure. These may be "inches", "feet", "yards", and "miles", respectively, or else just have the same relations with each other as those real measurements do (without being the actual equivalent in length).

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • The Transformers of the eponymous metaseries have a staggering variety of not-at-all-internally-consistent Cybertronian units of length and time.
  • Re Boot: Megabyte offhandedly mentions that Bob will erase if he gets within five bits of a magnet.
    • They also use the term, "nano", instead of "second". Presumably this is just short for the actual unit of a "nanosecond" but it's not explicit and short of some additional explanation would seem to conflict with the scale of time passing when the User plays a game.
    • "Nanosecond" is the most likely example, given that in one episode, Enzo complains that studying could take "One whole second" in much the same way we could say "This is taking forever!"
    • When Dot gets partially deleted by a magnet, Phong tells Bob that he doesn't have a lot of time to save her: "You don't have all second you know!"
  • Cyberchase had "cyber" as their prefix. But it has been pointed out this isn't consistent.
  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, pegasi measure the power of their wings in "wing power" which apparently is a measure for their ability to create wind by flying really fast than the speed itself.

Notes

  1. minor Fridge Logic moment there because Newton was an egotist of unparalleled proportions and would not have hesitated to invent a unit and name it after himself if it were real
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