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About the size of it

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The most widely used instruments and units are the ones on the ends of your legs.

Conn Iggulden called About the Size of It "fun and fascinating – the secrets and tricks of how we measure the world around us".

Author Warwick Cairn points out in friendly, informative tones everything I did not know – the expanding size of pints in Britain (but not in America, which despite its prodigious thirst stuck with the traditional, pre-1824 British pint size); the meaning of the cryptic little marks on retractable tape measures; how to find hidden studs; why pipes around the world are the size they are; the importance of the Rule of Thirds to great art; and why the two white rocket-like appendages on the US space shuttle are the width of two horses’ backsides.

There’s plenty more in About the Size of It, including Napoleon’s hatred of the metric system and the SI passion for it as well as measuring experiments that curious adults and children will like. It’s a provocative book. Macmillan has underestimated its pragmatic American audience, and published it only in Britain, but American readers can find it at Amazon Canada (below).

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