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A Smoot point

Oliver Smoot in parade on the Massachusetts Avenue bridge

Oliver Smoot, the man who became a unit of measurement, was back in town today to serve as grand marshal of the 100th anniversary of MIT's moving day - the celebration of the school's moving from the Back Bay to Cambridge.

RoadTrip New England snapped him as he rode past the markers bearing his name on the bridge.

Curt Nickish caught him being measured to make sure he still had an ear (the bridge being, of course, 364.4 smoots long, plus or minus an ear):

Smoot's ear

RoadTrip New England also captured CarTalk's Ray Magliozzi in the parade:

CarTalk's Ray Magliozzi

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He spent his entire career dealing with standards for NIST, ANSI, etc. http://www.ansi.org/other_services/speakers_bureau/smoot.aspx?menuid=10

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This was the centennial.

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With tracks optional, they would be a great alternative to the duck boats.

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          ... but that was a special effect created with models.

The Lost in Space Chariot was reportedly a modified Morton Thiokol Snowcat — great on snow, but not in water.

However, Morton Thiokol actually did produce an amphibious version called the Swamp Spryte.


Morton Thiokol is perhaps more infamous for their O-Rings, which were pinpointed as the main failure that caused the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. So, replacing the duck boats with Swamp Sprytes — what could possibly go wrong?

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to see MIT tidy up the repainted smoots.

Every year, they repaint the smoots, but in different places instead of on top of each other. So there will be three smoots right next to each other, and then no smoots for another few feet. The smoots are sloppily painted in rainbow colors and badly marked in freehand.

If they're going to commit to doing this, they should do it correctly- with the kind of proper measurement tools that I know MIT has- instead of just letting drunk frat kids smear an otherwise nice bridge with Tempera paint.

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