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Oliver R. Smoot
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Student
    (1940- )
    Student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity
    Used by fraternity brothers to measure the length of Harvard Bridge by marking his length along the bridge from Boston to Cambridge (October 8, 1958)
    Bridge length: 364.4 smoots +/- 1 ear
    One smoot = 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 meters)
    After graduation became a lawyer
    Served as Chair of the American National Standards Institute (2001-02) and President of the International Organization for Standardization (2003-04)
    Cousin of Nobel Prize-winning physicist George Smoot
    He was chosen to be a human measuring stick because he the shortest pledge.
    He got tired of getting up and laying down and was subsequently carried to each new position.
    As an actual unit of measure, the smoot does not get much use outside of that one bridge.
    When the Harvard Bridge was renovated during the 1980s, the Cambridge Police Department asked that the smoot marks be restored, since their police reports regularly used the marks as reference points.
    'Smoot' was added to the 5th edition of the American Heritage Dictionary (2011).
    You can choose smoots as an optional unit of measurement in Google Earth and Google Maps.
    He was presented with a smootstick at the 50th anniversary Smoot Celebration Day (October 8, 2008).
    He was grand marshal of the alumni parade across Harvard Bridge celebrating the 100th anniversary of MIT's move from Boston to Cambridge (May 7, 2016).

Credit: C. Fishel


 
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