Super Safi’s Monday Morning Math Mayhem 29 – Imperial Units for Lengths

Morning Mathematical Monsters & Maniacs!

(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)


Hi, I’m Super Safi and you may remember me from such stats and strategy posts as Kwik-E-Mart Farming and the advanced losing-to-win Superheroes battle strategy.

Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing mathematical journey involving fractions, probability, Fermat’s last theorem, and hundreds of other aspects from the wonderful world off mathematics.

And what better way to start your week, then by discussing math Monday morning?

This week we go back to an episode of The Simpsons from 20 years ago and look at the Imperial Units for lengths.


In Brother’s Little Helper (Season 11, Episode 02), while Bart is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and being treated with Focusyn, Homer gets a personal digital assistant and ask the system:

Homer [to Lenny and Carl]: I tell you, the kid’s a wonder. He organized all the lawsuits against me into one class action.

Lenny: That’s gotta save all kinds of travel time.

Homer: You know it. Plus, he gave me this appointment dealy. It’s got my whole week in there.

Carl: [whistles] Sweet.

Homer: Ah, this thing will do anything. Watch, I’ll ask it how many leagues in a furlong. No, wait, I’ll make it say, “Whassamatta, you?” in Turkish. And look at this: [pulls out a grater from the side of the organizer] a cheese grater!

Lenny: Man, technology’s amazing.

Carl: A guy can do great things with a gadget like that.

So let’s look at how many leagues in a furlong.


Imperial Units

The Weights and Measures Act of 1824 was the first act for ascertaining and establishing uniformity of weights and measures and is considered the origin of Imperial Units.

The Weights and Measures Act of 1824 established 8 units of length – thou, inch, foot, yard, chain, furlong, mile, and league.

From the info above, we can answer Homer’s question how many leagues in a furlong. The correct answer is 1/24th of a league is in a furlong.


Now that we’ve completed a look at imperial units for length, why not show your love for math and factorials with your own Math Mayhem shirt or hoodie.

If you love math or enjoy reading these posts, don’t forget to stop by the Addicts Shop and check out all the paraphernalia, including the Math Mayhem shirts and hoodies.

Were you familiar with furlongs and leagues? What’s your favourite unit of length? Do you recall the episode from 20 years ago? Did you recall it features a cameo by Mark McGwire? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.

12 responses to “Super Safi’s Monday Morning Math Mayhem 29 – Imperial Units for Lengths

  1. NicoRox13

    You ask a good question, which is answered in the Wikipedia article below:

    Seems the title was mis-translated, and it should be “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas”, and is the distance traveled not the depth reached.



  2. Very cool info, going to have to save that chart for future.
    Did they actually use ‘cubits’ in the bible, or is that a modern day interpretation/invention?

  3. All I have is donuts for tokens. No prizes. Should I spend my tokens on the donuts or wait?

  4. And just to make it more complicated 🙂

    There were Links, which were 1/100 of a chain, or 7.92 inches, and Rods ( also called Poles or Perches), which were 1/4 of a chain, or 16.5 feet…

    And that’s before you get to the mental gymnastics involved in long division of Pounds, Shillings and Pence!

    Yes, I am old enough to have learnt to deal with that before the UK went to this easy decimal currency :-O

  5. Dude, that was a short post. Could you have at least brought in maize like Bart did for his essay?

    With that limited information, it brings up the topic of Jules Verne and his book 20,000 leagues under the sea.

    If the 20k leagues is straight down, that would be a problem, since the earth’s diameter is about 7,900 miles.

    From your chart 20k leagues would be 60,000 miles. That would place the nautilus in orbit on the other side of the earth.

    The Moon is about 239,000 miles from earth. That 20,000 leagues would get you about one quarter of the way.

    And this discussion doesn’t even bring in the real value of corn. When the European settlers came to North America, they were look for something valuable, gold. When described to the native Americans they assumed that they were talking about maize, or corn. What is one man’s cornmeal is another man’s gold. I guess it really comes down to how hungry you are.

    Wishing you all a plentiful Thanksgiving, and let’s not forget those that are less fortunate than ourselves.

    Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels.

    Safi (sorry for being a month and a half late with my Thanksgiving greetings for you and my fellow canucks).

    • FYI it’s not supposed to be 20k leagues straight down, but rather the distance Aronnax, Nemo, and company travelled under the sea. 111,120 kilometres is still quite a feat, which would be the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe 2.8 times. The Earth’s circumference is roughly 40,000 km, but obviously their journey would require navigating around land masses and their submarine travelled vertically under the water as well.

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