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The Parbs Scale

The Parbs Scale: a Unit of Measurement for the Modern World

A Practical Means of Measuring Human-scale Physical Objects

Author: Rami Abraham
August 30, 2015


The world in which we live is typically measured with either the metric system, or similar systems employed by non-participating nations, such as "British Imperial" and "American Common".*

*At this time, only three countries—Burma, Liberia, and the US — have not adopted the International System of Units (SI, or metric system).

Map of countries not using the metric system at this time.

(Map of countries not using the metric system at this time.)

The primary argument of the Parbs Scale postulates that for many applications, these measurement systems, whether metric or not, introduce many avoidable inefficiencies, and offers a simple, easy-to-use companion for either.

The Problem - and the Proposed Solution - as Supplied by the Parbs Scale

For the purposes of clarity within this document I will be addressing relative measurements using the metric system.

Like most numerical systems, the metric system is a base-10 system:

  • millimeter = 1/1,000th of one meter
  • centimeter = 1/100th of one meter
  • meter
  • decameter = 10 meters
  • kilometer = 1,000 meters

In the metric system and analogous systems, there exists a void in the space after one meter (one yard is equivalent to 0.9144 meters):

  • millimeter = 1/1,000th of one meter
  • centimeter = 1/100th of one meter
  • meter
  • What about objects larger than one meter, but less than the relatively huge 10 meters?
  • decameter = 10 meters
  • kilometer = 1,000 meters

The Parbs Scale: A Way Forward

Pioneered by its' namesake, Bradley Kensington Parbs, the Parbs Unit of Measurement (hereafter referred to as a "parbs") is greater in height than 2 meters - but less than three. It is equal to the height of Bradley Kensington Parbs.

Picture of Brad Parbs sitting behind typewriter, smoking a pipe.

Brad Parbs

A parbs is a unit of measurement for the human-scale world.

Practical Benefits of Using the Parbs Scale

Question: What is your height? Seventy-two inches? 87 1/2 inches? 1.325 meters? 2,635 millimeters? Our typical units of measurement - while brilliant for concerns such as construction, engineering, and general distance calculation, are cumbersome and redundant when needing to calculate common, human-scale objects' widths and heights - calculations with which we interact every day. Frequently:

  • humans
  • vehicles
  • doors
  • desks
  • washing machines

A real-world example

Let's use a parbs unit to determine my height, for example.

In the metric system, I am 1.8542 meters tall, or 1,854.2 millimeters, or 0.18542 decameters, or 0.0018542 kilometers. Redundant, and difficult to memorize for most people.

Let's convert that to a parbs measurement. Using the Parbs Scale, I am .95 parbs in height. It's that simple:

Chart showing example of Parbs Scale usage.

(Parbs Scale example)


The height of many animals - humans included - changes over time. As Brad Parbs ages, his height may decrease under the force of gravity - an eventuality with which we must all contend. It is hereby recommended that the height of the entity Brad Parbs as he exists in the year 2015 be established as the baseline standard for the Parbs Scale.


The Parbs Scale is easier to use than standard systems of measurement for the average human - thus making all tasks requiring arbitrary measurements for objects at the human scale much less prone to error.

On the subject of measurement-related error, the economy at-large may benefit greatly as well; implementing the Parbs Scale may save millions in manufacturing waste due to measurement inaccuracies - across a wide variety of industries; most notably construction and engineering.

Societally, the Parbs Scale may also serve as a catalyst for introducing the wider public of those countries not yet using the metric system to be more comfortable with making the switch. Many authors have explored this problem, with no definitive solution proposed.

The Parbs Scale may be that way forward.

NEW! Use this handy Parbs Scale javascript bookrmarklet to convert units of measurement to the Parbs Scale, on any website.

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