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Geometry and Measurements – What is Length and Its importance

What is length – Definition

The measurement of something from end to end is the simplest definition if you want to know what is length. It could also be defined as the greater dimension of two or greatest among three of an object.

What is length – Researches and Approaches

To know measurements continues to be an interesting activity for humans ever since they settled from the nomadic lifestyles. They remain eager to know what is length and breadth of the land they occupy. They are keen to measure the buildings they own and quantify the material that is used to build them. The distance from one trading post to another is also an attraction to find the shortest possible and the most lucrative route. They are curious to know the heights of people, objects and mountains. To quench this thirst, they researched and devised some standards for complex measurements and to determine what is length.

What is length – Ancient Standards

During the ancient times, people used “cubit” to find what is length. Cubit is also known as the oldest unit to measure length and is based on the length of the forearm from elbow to the tip of the middle finger. The thumb represented an inch. The foot represented itself. The yard was measured by the pace of a human, which was also defined as a total of two cubits (the length of the forearm). The mile was derived from thousand paces as Romans believed that a human pace is equal to two steps and derived it for approximation to a mile. Through this, they measured the distance between two villages and determined the range of an object.

For more distinguished measurements to solve the complex measuring problems such as land surveying to register rights on a property or sale of a commodity by length, the Egyptian and Mesopotamian devised a standardized rod or bar. That standard rod or bar was then placed in a central place for the benefit of the general public. Other identical rods or bars were later allowed to be copied for distribution amongst community while the initial ones were placed and kept in temples. Both civilizations used cubit (length of a forearm from elbow to fingertip) as a base unit before this standardization.

What is Length – History of Measurement and Tools

Historically known units of length are related back to the Saxon king Edgar who had a “yardstick” that was kept at Winchester and used as an official standard measurement unit. Another traditionally known is related to King Henry I (1100-1135). The king announced that the distance from his nose tip to the end of his outstretched thumb should be considered as one yard.

In Edward I’s time in power (1272-1307), the yard (or Ulna) and its sub and combined separations were outlined. It was declared that the Iron Ulna of the King will encompass three feet and nothing more and a foot must comprise of twelve inches, nothing more. It was also ordained that three dry and round grains of barley will make an inch, twelve combined inches will make a foot and three combined feet will make an ulna, five and a half combined ulna will make a perch (rod) and forty combined perches in length and four combined perches in breadth will make an acre.

Traditional Saxon perch or rod to measure land still lives in these days to tell the tale from history about the total length of the left feet of those sixteen men who first left the church on Sunday morning. The perch was originally defined through this way.

People realized it long ago that a universal standard of measurement is necessary to gauge the distances and various types of lengths. The French National Assembly initiated the move in 1791 to formulate a criterion by taking the one ten-millionth part of a quarter of the earth’s circumference as a standard. A survey to determine this was established from Dunkirk, France to Barcelona, Spain. It was a long and difficult task especially when both countries were heading to war. Various surveyors nearly lost their heads and a number of them got arrested on the suspicion of spies. However, in 1799, with the results of this survey, a platinum ‘end bar’ was produced which was named as ‘Metre des Archive’. Later it became the master standard of the metric system.

An interesting situation aroused when the French people rejected this Metre des Archive. However, it happened only initially. It was enforced rigorously around 1837. By 1870 people of the whole Europe, by and large, accepted and adopted it.

The people of the 19th century were so enthusiastic that, in 1875, they held a ‘Metre Convention’. Participating nations signed this convention and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures was established in the vicinity of Paris. Consequently, in 1889, various platinum-iridium metre bars were brought into existence. One of these bars replaced the Metre des Archive and was declared as the first International Prototype Metre. Out of these remaining bars, mostly were distributed amongst the representative countries.

The bar that Britain received was made of an alloy that proved to be greatly stable as compared to The Imperial Standard Yard of 1885 which shrank at the ratio of one part per million over a time period of 20 years. Interestingly again, Britain did not sign the Metre Convention and showed its unwillingness till 1884 to implement the clause related to the introduction of the metric measurement system. In Britain, it became lawful only in 1897 when the nation announced its inclination to use metric weights and measures system in trading.

What is Length – Modern Day Measurements

After the postulation of Albert Einstein’s famous special relativity, length no longer deserves to be thought as constant in all frames of references. This theory also highlights that a one-meter long ruler in one reference frame will not be of the same length in another frame of reference which is travelling at a velocity that is relative to the first reference frame. It also intensifies that the length of an object is variable and subject to the observer.

In the modern days, our living environment has become more technologically oriented and demands much more accuracies in measurement whether it is microelectronics or interplanetary range findings.

Hence we can say that length is the most essential measurement system in our daily life and units thereof used to measure the length still point towards humanity’s first simple and straightforward methods.

In engineering and corporeal sciences when we speak about the units of length, the word “length” acts as a synonym of “distance”. In the present days, there are a number of units available to measure length. In the SI (International System of Units), centimeter, kilometer, and the meter are the basic units to determine lengthwise measurement. Now it is defined in the terms of speed of light. In the English or Imperial customary units, inch, the foot, the yard and the mile remains commonly used units to calculate end to end distances.

The vastness of space, as in astronomy, needs more sophisticated tools to compute the distances as compared to those which are used on Earth. It includes an astronomical unit, the light year and the parsec. A parsec is equal to about 3.26 light years.

The convenience of use and constancy of the International Prototype Metre made it a worldwide adopted tool for measuring. Nevertheless, scientists and other intellectuals felt it pertinent to find a durable standard to avoid the loss of exact size over a period of time due to its usage. Therefore, it was suggested to use the wavelength of light because of its advantageous permanence, to establish a natural standard. It was also thought to first define metre in terms of wavelength of light through a discharge from an atomic lamp and then to reproduce it in any well-resourced laboratory.

What is Length – Universal Standard of Measurement

During 1892 to 1940, scientists developed nine determinations of metre bar in terms of the wavelength of light in a number of laboratories. The mean of these nine values became the new standard definition of the bar. After this achievement, the International Prototype Metre bar was replaced by this novel Krypton-86 meter definition.

Construction of Lasers

In 1960 the world experienced the first ever laser and by the middle of 1970s lasers were found playing their vital roles as length standards. It was in 1983 when Krypton-86 definition was replaced by another new research and the meter was once again defined as “the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1/299 792 458 of a second”.

From the above lines, it is revealed that the trading and industrial needs of man have led him not only achieving greater accuracies in the field of measurement but also to find the more precise definitions of meter and the metric system by continuous thinking and research.

What is Length Measurement Today

In the today’s modern society, length measurement stands applied in every sphere of human life to conduct fair trading and to remodel new and advanced products and processes that upgrade our living standards. The scope of this enriched activity ranges from the manufacturing of microscopic electronic devices with exceptionally accurate circuit dimensions to the extent of ten thousand-millionths of a meter, to the measurement of over many kilometer distances in construction activities with millimeter accuracies. These accuracies made the tunnel works to meet up in the middle during the construction of France and England channel.

Length measurement also plays a significant role in our everyday lives. We want our clothes tailored according to our heights and widths. We appreciate the manufacturers when we put together our self-assembled furniture. These precise activities are all made possible by a number of Kings and Queens who thought about the standardization of units of measurement and documented it during their realm.

Nowadays, writing assignments are also estimated and evaluated by length. If you want to complete your case study research paper in a timely fashion, you adopt two strategies. Either you write it by yourself or hire a best resume writing service, which will ask you about the length of your essay to charge you accordingly.

Your professor advises you about writing a compare and contrast essay and to adopt a suitable thesis methodology and to follow a case study method so that your essay can be en-suited in certain word-per-page length.

Earlier we talked about the Kings and Queens who standardized the measurement tools and rewarded the world with their efforts to modernize the length measuring procedures. In conclusion, we show our regards to:

  • The ancient people who introduced the ‘Cubit’, the first ever unit of length by measuring the distance of forearm from the elbow to the fingertip
  • The Saxon king Edgar, King Henry I and Henry VII who introduced the ‘yardstick’ by stretching their arms to determine the length from the nose tip to the thumb.
  • Richard the Lion heart who first documented the standardization through Assize of Measures in 1196, and so many others.

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