New Measurements That Beat the ‘Speed of Light’

The speed of light may be a handy unit for scientists, but we lay folk need some helpful new measures for daily use.

Since nothing moves as fast as light (except dark), the Speed of Light is useless for measuring. Sure, astronomers rely on light years, but the rest of us can’t even use light minutes. (Would it help you to learn I work .000000083 light minutes from home?) So here are some helpful new measures for daily use.

speed of lightThe Speed of Sorkin Dialog (Unit: the “sorkin”). Few humans talk faster than Aaron Sorkin characters: picture Bradley Whitford sparring with Allison Janney as they scurry to a meeting in the West Wing. Ballpark: 220 words per minute. This can be used to describe speakers, for example: “Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union at a painful quarter-sorkin pace. (Put some scary shit in there, too!)”

The Speed Of Chewing Gum Flavor Dissipation (Unit: the “chomp”): Since the time it takes from that first burst of flavor, to the moment you realize you’re chewing synthetic rubber, lasts from 17 minutes (Wrigley’s) to 45 minutes (Stride), the chomp measures events whose exact duration is unknown, often due to multiple perspectives:

  • Allison (complaining to friends): “Bradley always changes the subject when I try to talk about his onechomp intercourse.”
  • Bradley (bragging to friends): “It embarrasses me, so I change topics, when Allison tries to thank me for my full-chomp sexual performance!”

The Speed of a 3rd Grade Dance Recital (Unit: the “minuet”): This measure depends on whether you’re a parent (two hours that feel like four) or innocent bystander (two hours that seem like an afternoon at the periodontist). The minuet is useful wherever intense boredom causes time dilation, such as youth sports, children’s theater, and dinner with anyone over 65.

The Speed of a Yankee-Red Sox Pitching Duel (Unit: the “yardarm”): The yardarm, which measures experiential intensity, was derived by comparing Sox-Yankees actual ball-in-play time (18 minutes) to the average duration from first pitch to bench-clearing last out (4.5 hours) – thus, an action-to-snorefest ratio of 1:15. Useful for rating a political speech, comedy routine, or gender-reveal party.

The Speed of Colonoscopy Preparation Day (Unit: the “colon”): This is the kind of day that feels like it will never end (similar to a summer teen romance, but without having to drink four glasses of Gatorade laced with motor oil). This is useful to describe events that drag-g-g-g, such as: “My grandma’s 65th birthday party was a non-stop minuet! Only the cake stopped it from being a total colon.”

The Speed of Wagner’s 15-hour 4-play Ring Cycle (Unit: the “opera”): Experientially this approaches zero speed, as if time stands still. For example, “I expected our transatlantic flight to be 8-10 chomps, or at worst a minuet; but there was a crying baby onboard, which quickly made it a colon and eventually more like a double opera.”

The Federal Bureau of Even More National Standards is developing additional units of measure to add to the speed of light for 2022 release, including:

  • the nannosecond – the time it takes a husband to deny his wife’s statement that the babysitter is pretty,
  • the circumsecond – the time it takes a man to recover from the gut-clenching image of someone snipping his penis with a sharp instrument,
  • the Scotland Inch – a crime scene measure equal to 1/36 of a Scotland Yard,
  • the biden – a unit of speaking velocity equal to a half-sorkin, and
  • (New for astronomers) the light beer – a measure of the time it takes to intoxicate the average cosmologist.
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