October '21

October '21

The Story

It may be easy to miss upon first examination, but these socks can also serve as an aid to measure a certain optical phenomenon.

We call this phenomenon angular curviness and have good reason to believe we actually discovered it. Angular curviness occurs when an angular (zigzaggy) line gradually starts to resemble a smooth curve as the observer walks away from it. So put them on and ask a volunteer from your immediate vicinity to increase their distance from you until the lines appear fluidly curvy. Then measure your distance from the sock. In meters.

That, however, is only a partial result. So far, we have omitted the observer’s visual acuity, determined by the Snellen chart, a must-have decoration of every self-respecting ophthalmologist’s office. Ideal eyesight is defined as 6/6 vision, meaning the patient has optimal vision from a 6-meter distance. If the observer perceives the line as curved from a distance of 5 m, his vision is 5/6/6. To put it simply: “Angular curviness at a 5 m distance with a visual acuity where, at the distance of 6 m, one discerns what one should, at a distance of 6 m, discern.”

A tongue-twister, you say? Perhaps. A more elegant solution would be to devise a new unit. Modest as I am, our secretary Hubert Ponožka took inspiration from physicists Isaac Newton and Heinrich Hertz and dubbed the aforementioned result 5 huberts (5 Hb, for short).

Bureaucratic steps are needed to introduce this unit into the international unit system, SI.


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