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Skin-Deep Look at Human Scales

Human beings like to measure things...by assigning numbers, we gain a sense of order, a sense of common understanding, and a sense of mastery of the entity being measured. Some of the scales reflect inherent mathematical relationships (e.g. logarthmic or exponential), while other scales seem nominal by design.

Can you identify the following scales (answers below):

  • Saffir-Simpson Scale (5 levels)
  • Udden-Wentworth Scale (6 levels)
  • Glasgow Coma Score (15 levels)
  • Mohs Hardness Scale (10 levels)
  • Torino Impact Hazard Scale (10 levels)
  • Lab Biosafety Levels (4 levels)
  • Fujita Scale (7 levels)
  • Decibel Scale (12 levels)
  • Richter Scale (10 levels)
  • Stanford-Binet Scale (8 levels)
  • Diatonic Scale (7+ levels)
  • pH Scale (15 levels)
  • Specific Gravity Scale (22 levels)
  • Wong-Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale (6 levels)
  • Beaufort Scale (13 levels)
  • Likert Scale (5 levels)
  • Modified Borg Scale (? levels)
  • Unified Dyskinesia Rating Scale (TBA)
How did you do...you might invesigate each scale further...
  • Saffir-Simpson Scale allows meterologists to measure hurricane strength
  • Udden-Wentworth Scale allows geologists to measure particle size
  • Glasgow Coma Score allows doctors to measure levels of consciousness
  • Mohs Hardness Scale allows mineralogists to measure the strngth of a mineral
  • Torino Impact Hazard Scale allows astrophysicists to measure the impact risk of astroids
  • Lab Biosafety Levels allows lab workers to measure biolab protocols based on presence of infectious germs
  • Fujita Scale allows meterologists to measure tornado strengths
  • Decibel Scale helps engineers measure the intensity of sounds
  • Richter Scale allows engineers to measure earthquake severity
  • Stanford-Binet Scale allows psychologists to measure human intelligence
  • Diatonic Scale allows musicians to describe musical tones
  • pH Scale allows chemists to measure acidity of a solution
  • Specific Gravity Scale allows physicists to measure traits of elements
  • Wong-Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale helps doctors measure patients' pain intensity
  • Beaufort Scale helps meterologists measure wind strength
  • Likert Scale helps researchers measure opinion strength
  • Modified Borg Scale helps doctors measure breathlessness
  • Unified Dyskinesia Rating Scale helps neurologists measure Parkinson's Disease levels(TBA)
Again, this is a surface-level look at human measurement scales, as many more scales exists (e.g. AIS, POEMS).

Source: Expanded from Lucas Graves' "Disparate Measures," Wired, December 2006, p. 70