Our Friend the Alfred

matthewcook_windows2_web matthewcook_window sketches web


One of my favorite things about physics class in college was learning about the SI units. My friends and I took to calling them Old Dead White Guy Units (ODWGU) because it seemed to us that most of them were  named after … well … distinguished European gentleman of the englishmen era.

Perhaps its a little solipsistic to claim some aspect of the natural world and name it after yourself. But I supposed we have to call these things something, and it’s kind of fun to learn the history behind each discovery. Plus, if those gentleman can do it then I don’t see why I can’t. There are so many things in life that are just yearning for quantification.

A case in point: Todays unit is the Alfred (Alf)

The Alfred is the SI Unit of intrigue, as observed through a window. It’s named for Alfred Hitchcock, English director of the film Rear Window.

Here are some common observances as measured in Alfreds:

0 Alf  =  An empty, non descript window (theoretical, all actual windows are > 0 Alf.)
0.001 Alf  =  1 mAlf  =  A window with a spooky shredded curtain blowing gently in the breeze.
0.01 Alf  =  1 cAlf  =  A scowling child looking back menacingly.
0.012 Alf  =  1.2 cAlf  =  A scowling child looking back menacingly and eating an ice cream cone.
0.04 Alf  =  4 cAlf  =  Scowling twins in matching outfits (any age).
0.1 Alf  =  A mysterious shadowy figure.
0.2 Alf  =  A mysterious shadowy figure in a fedora.
1 Alf  =  A gruesome murder in progress, as seen in silhouette.

Note that the presence of a cat in the window automatically multiplies any recorded value of Alfreds by a factor of 0.045. This unitless constant is known as Pluto’s coefficient.