A Hard Look at Cheap Rulers

Complimentary small plastic rulers, being imprecise, innacurate, flimsy and defaced with advertising, draw only a measured amount of respect from metrologists. In 1994, two metrologists took measures to see just how much respect the rulers deserve.

Metrologists are the people who come up with more accurate, more precise ways to measure things.

The metrology community incessantly tussles about new standard definitions for the intimidatingly important, never-quite-as-good-as-they-ideally-could-be standards – most famously, the kilogram, the metre and the second.

The father-and-son team of TD Doiron and DT Doiron looked, briefly, at a neglected standard. Their report, called Length Metrology of Complimentary Small Plastic Rulers, drew some measure of interest at the Measurement Science Conference in Pasadena, California….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

BONUS [Feb. 25]: The study’s senior author speaks.

Improbable Research