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Feet in a mile

# Feet in a mile

The basic concept of the mile originated in Roman times. The Romans used a unit of distance called the mille passum, which literally translated into "a thousand paces."Â Since each pace was considered to be five Roman feet—which were a bit shorter than our modern feet—the mile ended up being 5,000 Roman feet, or roughly 4,850 of our modern feet. If the mile originated with 5,000 Roman feet, how did we end up with a mile that is 5,280 feet? Blame the furlong. The furlong wasn't always just an arcane unit of measure that horseracing fans gabbed about; it once had significance as the length of the furrow a team of oxen could plow in a day. In 1592, Parliament set about determining the length of the mile and decided that each one should be made up of eight furlongs. Since a furlong was 660 feet, we ended up with a 5,280-foot mile.

## Mile

So if the statute mile is the result of Roman influences and plowing oxen, where did the nautical mile get its start? Strap on your high school geometry helmet for this one. Each nautical mile originally referred to one minute of arc along a meridian around the Earth. Think of a meridian around the Earth as being made up of 360 degrees, and each of those degrees consists of 60 minutes of arc. Each of these minutes of arc is then 1/21,600th of the distance around the earth. Thus, a nautical mile is 6,076 feet.Like the mile, the acre owes its existence to the concept of the furlong. Remember that a furlong was considered to be the length of a furrow a team of oxen could plow in one day without resting. An acre—which gets its name from an Old English word meaning "open field"Â—was originally the amount of land that a single farmer with a single ox could plow in one day. Over time, the old Saxon inhabitants of England established that this area was equivalent to a long, thin strip of land one furlong in length and one chain—an old unit of length equivalent to 66 feet—wide. That's how we ended up with an acre that's equivalent to 43,560 square feet.

of a degree) of arc along a meridian (north-south line of longitude). Because of a slight flattening of the Earth in polar latitudes, however, the measurement of a nautical mile increases slightly toward the poles. For many years the British nautical mile, or admiralty mile, was set at 6,080 feet (1.85318 km), while the U.S. nautical mile was set at 6,080.20 feet (1.85324 km). In 1929 the nautical mile was redefined as exactly 1.852 km (about 6,076.11549 feet or 1.1508 statute miles) at an international conference held in Monaco, although the United States did not change over to the new international nautical mile until 1954. The measure remains in universal use in both marine and air transportation. The knot is one nautical mile per hour.Nearly every country in the world uses the metric system as its official system of weights and measurements. Yes, fellow Americans, we are among the exceptions to this rule, but there’s no use crying over a spilt liter of milk. The customary system has its own cool history. Well, one unit of the customary system does: the mile. It can be tricky to remember how many feet in a mile, since it’s a seemingly random number: 5,280. But there is a historical reason behind it, just like these other explanations of little things you’ve always wondered about. (Source: www.rd.com)

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