I am looking for a science fact article from Analog mid-60s to late 80s. Discusses how a choice for dimensions makes things or harder. One example is furlongs-per-fortnight for velocity.

I remember the phrase "The fool had built up quite a charge."

Just the title and/or author would keep me from going crazy.


1 Answer 1


I suspect you're recalling "Dimensions, Anyone" by John D. Clark, Ph.D., published in Analog, November 1966.

The bit about a fool is in the introduction:

A shattering crash rocked the ancient building, and midnight was turned to high noon, and the charred and riven body of the student, stricken by the levin-bolt, sank to the floor.

The mummy laughed out loud. That had been one hell of a big electric charge the student had conjured up, and the damned fool had forgotten that the iron door was grounded!

The joke here is that the bizarre mystic instructions in the incantation had, if analyzed in dimensional terms, ended up evaluating to units of charge.

It's an essay about dimensional analysis, and the origin of the metres-kilogram-seconds (MKS) unit system we currently use (and its extension with Kelvin and Coulombs). From there it progresses into an attempt to find a system of units that can be expressed purely in terms of universal constants like the Planck length, the rest mass of an electron, the velocity of light, etc.

  • Pdf at luminist.org/archives/SF/AN.htm Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 22:44
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    thank you !!! now I can sleep tonight !!!
    – user167211
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 22:52
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    @user167211 If this is correct you should accept it by clicking on the checkmark in the upper left below the voting arrows. That way future searchers will see this question has the correct answer when they come across it. Oh, and you are most welcome.
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 22:54

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