back to article Announcing the official Reg-approved measure of social distancing: The Osman

As you nervously shuffle away from your close-talking neighbour who always stood too near at the best of times, tutting and muttering "social distancing", you may wonder to yourself just what two metres or six feet should really look like. Luckily, El Reg's Standards Soviet is here to help. The BBC – Britain's responsible …

  1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    'Pointless' is OK,...

    .... but Richard Osman's House of Games is far better Tea Time viewing.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b094mjv0

    1. A K Stiles Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: 'Pointless' is OK,...

      Wonder if they'll need a social distancing version of answer smash? Take one thing and then split it as far apart as possible?

    2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Re: 'Pointless' is OK,...

      Who on earth downvoted this? It is by far the best program on TV, even if so-called 'music' questions never ask questions about music, but only to name a song by some recent bod.

      Nothing on Beethoven, Britten or Bach for example. But then again, is that a reflection of the wider ignorance of the general population, I wonder. Consider Haydn's op76 no 3, second movement. I wonder how many people would recognise that. :-)

      1. D@v3

        Re: 'Pointless' is OK,...

        something tells me you'd be a fan of Only Connect.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Vincent Ballard
        Coat

        Re: 'Pointless' is OK,...

        Let's see.. Most Germans, people who attend churches where they sing traditional hymns, football fans, ...

        1. wegie

          Re: 'Pointless' is OK,...

          Thanks a bundle. Now I've got a bloody earworm of "Glorious Things Of Thee Are Spoken"!

          1. PhilipN

            Re: 'Pointless' is OK,...

            So have a gander at Haydn done proper

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBmCcSz6HWw

            Seeing the (non-)fretwork of the lass in the dark gown a pity she doesn't take up a Stratocaster.

            1. R0bb1eB
              Devil

              Re: 'Pointless' is OK,...

              Not a real Malmsteen fan! She hasn't scalloped out the fretboard...

        2. R0bb1eB
          Coat

          Re: 'Pointless' is OK,...

          Don't mention the war!

  2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Devil

    The Osman

    That might help in situations with friendly acquaintances even though before I didn't know who Osman is.

    And how do I keep strangers away? A bit of fake coughing works wonders and keeps them much further away then an Osman or two.

    1. Rol Silver badge

      Re: The Osman

      I've been revelling in the opportunities to stick two fingers up at all my work colleagues and managers.

      As soon as they start walking towards me I give them the two fingered salute, and then blurt "Two metres!"

      The look of shock on their faces is priceless, and I'm getting away with it. Well, I was until they sent me home with a laptop last Friday.

      I'd like to believe 2 metres was decided upon for this very reason. Churchill, Blitz spirit and all the jingoism that goes with it.

      V for victory or rather fuck off for germ free.

  3. MarkB
    Devil

    On the other hand

    If you were to use the Osmond as a unit of social distancing, it would imply ideally being on a different continent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the other hand

      No, you're thinking of the Corbyn

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On the other hand

        OMG are there still Corbynistas on here? Wake up, your man is history.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: On the other hand

      Shirley the Osmond would be a dental unit.

      1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

        Re: On the other hand

        From Polymorph: "What about the Rimmer directive, which states never tangle with anything that's got more teeth than the entire Osmond Family."

        So can we use the Reg Unit to be something like 1 Osmand = a Great White Shark?

      2. chivo243 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: On the other hand

        Or a focal length?

      3. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: On the other hand

        > Shirley the Osmond would be a dental unit.

        No, you're thinking of the Bee Gee

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: On the other hand

          The eebie BeeGees were seriously outnumbered by the Osmonds, there were nine of them.

          I'm sure they had bulk purchasing deals with the same dental outlet though.

  4. Bertieboy

    Reg converter

    Could the powers in charge of the reg converter please explain why according to the converter a mile is not exactly 8 furlongs or 1760 yards etc. as historically defined?

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Probably using an old Pentium for the maths...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It explains it on the page

      "To maintain our own high standards, we've had to shave a teensy bit of accuracy off everyone else's. For instance: there are 8 furlongs to a mile, which means 25 miles should convert to 200 furlongs. But it actually converts to 199.something furlongs. As our technical wizard explains: "To turn a mile into anything else, it first needs to be converted into linguine". "

      It is a linguine rounding error.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        It is a linguine rounding error.

        Isn't it always?

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

          An incy wincy teeny weeny yellow polka dot linguine ...

        2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Trollface

          Linguine hoops anyone?

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        > It is a linguine rounding error.

        Now THERE'S a sentence never before uttered in the history of the universe...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @"a mile is not exactly 8 furlongs or 1760 yards etc. as historically defined?" which mile is that again?

  5. alain williams Silver badge

    "two metres (six and a half feet)"

    Two meters might be 6.5 feet (well, 6.5616798 feet) but I would assert that "six feet" is a better convertion as it is simpler thus easier to remember/understand.

    The point is that the recommendation of "two meters" is a guideline, it is not a matter of scientific accuracy such as "2 meters and you are safe, 1.85 meters and you are at much greater risk of catching it".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

      ..and 6ft only helps if you're used to imperial measures, 2 meters works for others.

      Where I live we're being told 1.5 meters....

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

        All sort of academic in the great outdoors and pretty irrelevant indoors where time is more important: this is essentially a measurable proxy for the degree of social conditioning that the population will put up with.

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

        Where I live we're being told 1.5 meters.

        You really need to hire some taller television presenters.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

          Australia have settled on "the Kylie" as their metric of social distancing - which is considered by scientists to be highly dangerous.

          Personally I prefer the Morgan. I imagine that everyone I see is Piers Morgan, and keep as far away as I would from him. However this is of dubious benefit, as I've so far punched 15 pedestrians, two chemists and a GP...

          1. PerlyKing Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: dubious benefits

            Thank you sir!

      3. Mike Richards

        Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

        ‘ Where I live we're being told 1.5 meters...’

        We’re British so we need an extra 50 centimetres to accommodate our hardwired natural disdain for other people.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

          1.5 meters would get you closer together than you normally would.

    2. Timbo

      Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

      You can always tell when the Yanks get involved...and start imposing "their" ways on everyone else.

      It's not 2 meters - it's 2 metres...for gawds sake...the clue was in the title of this post !! Where will it end?

      So, FYI: A METRE is an SI measurement of distance.

      A METER is an actual physical device for measuring say a weight or a voltage or a current (for example).

      1. eldakka Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

        A METER is an actual physical device for measuring say a weight or a voltage or a current (for example).

        So, in this case, Richard Osman is a meter?

        1. Shooter

          Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

          A two-metre meter!

    3. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
      Holmes

      Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

      At the Sainsbury's store near where I live, they have rationalised it to "Two trolley lengths". This seems to work, most people can estimate that there is room for an extra trolley in front of the one they are pushing, although I observed that at least two people in the queue added about another four or five trolleys to that gap, until the "Queue Warden" asked them to close up to two trolley lengths. One of them was so incensed that he left the queue and went back to his car.

  6. Persona Silver badge

    Tallest men in British TV

    "Osman is also one of the tallest men in British TV, at 6 foot 7" (2.0066m)"

    Greg Davies at 1.01 Osmon's (6 foot 8" in unofficial units) is of course to tall to be used as a unit of measure.

    1. GioCiampa

      Re: Tallest men in British TV

      Should get the Taskmaster to tell the population what we should (not) be doing...

      1. Vincent Ballard

        Re: Tallest men in British TV

        This past week it was throwing paper, refurbishing bathrooms, and making elephants dance. #HomeTasking

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Tallest men in British TV

      Martin Bayfield (rugby presenter) is 6'10" (1.038 Osmans). I stood next to him in a bar once, he was ducking and I still got a sore neck.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Tallest men in British TV

        Back in the good old days, when England's locks were all policemen. Bayfield, Ackford, Dooley. And Rob Andrew kicks for touch, the ball is won at the lineout by Bayfield - rinse repeate bore our Celtic neighbours to victory...

  7. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Mushroom

    2 meters

    ...is approximately the distance your close-talking cow-orker will back off after you diplomatically apply your cattle prod to his anatomy.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: 2 meters

      An Aussie friend assures me "If you can smell their fart, move further apart"

      But the best advice I've had so far is that people should not cough near you. They should be far from you. If people cough near you, tell them to far cough.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2 meters

        But most importantly if they do, wash your hands!

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: 2 meters

      I have 2 meters on my bench power supply, but they're only 1 linguine apart.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: 2 meters

        I have several bench power supplies.

        One of them goes up to 1kV.

        I treat it with respect.

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Love it!

    Can't wait to use an Osman unit!

  9. TheProf Silver badge
    Angel

    What would Sheldon do?

    If we're looking to the televisual unit for health advice I think The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon displays oodles* of good practice.

    'Bus Pants' anyone?

    *Is oddles an official measurement yet?

    1. Blitheringeejit
      Headmaster

      Re: What would Sheldon do?

      >>*Is oddles an official measurement yet?

      Yes - a hundred oddles make an oodle!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: What would Sheldon do?

        And one Bill Oddie makes 1/3rd of a Goodie

  10. Omgwtfbbqtime
    Pirate

    If you are having trouble imagining the 2m between you and another (for social distancing), just imagine the outline of a dead relative between you.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Ah, but which one? And after which accident?

      (asking for a friend)

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Ah, but which one? And after which accident?

        They friends should remain approximately 150Mhz apart. If they ask what a megahertz is, drop a grand piano or shark on them. Simple really.

        In other news, was waiting in a line outside Sainsburys earlier, with queue spaced 2m apart, for various definitions of m. Was thinking it'd be a lot easier to manage social* distancing if we were all issued halberds.

        *Ok, possibly anti-social, but fun. May also need changes to offensive weapons laws to permit a blade length of >2". But on the plus side, potentially useful for fending off any future French invasion.

        1. MarkB
          Pirate

          Anti-social distancing

          "...Was thinking it'd be a lot easier to manage social* distancing if we were all issued halberds.

          *Ok, possibly anti-social, but fun..."

          One of my colleagues recently suggested that if social distancing didn't work, we should move to anti-social distancing - it's much the same but with weapons and swearing.

          1. HildyJ Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Anti-social distancing

            But the bodily fluids generated might be contagious, albeit fun.

            Just require all people to wear a two meter hula hoop at all times.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Pirate

              Re: Anti-social distancing

              But the bodily fluids generated might be contagious, albeit fun.

              With a long-enough halberd that shouldn't be a problem. Just don't step in it afterwards.

            2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Anti-social distancing

              Just require all people to wear a two meter hula hoop at all times.

              Hmm.. Aha! Or a 2m Zorb ball. Has the benefit of being positive pressure, thus further reducing the risk of infection. People would be safe* inside their own bubble!

              *Safe-ish. Also would potentially reduce deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents, unless drivers aim for them. Would also provide vital moral boosts, especially in high winds. Downside is this solution would probably be incompatible with mass halberd adoption.

            3. Shooter

              Re: Anti-social distancing

              My suggestion is that everyone be legally required to wear antebellum-style hoop skirts at all times. [1]

              If your skirt touches someone else's, you are too close!

              [1] Possibly fitted with warning lights and/or buzzers.

            4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Anti-social distancing

              "Just require all people to wear a two meter hula hoop at all times."

              It might be time to bring back the fashions of Southern Bells with the huge hopped skirts.

  11. Annihilator Silver badge

    Osman himself already tweeted before Dan Walker got involved:

    @richardosman "I measure two metres if anyone wants to use me? #KeepYourDistance" 19:48 - 22/03/2020

  12. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Osman? Never heard of 'im.

    Still remember the Osmonds though, and I was born half-way through the 70's,so....

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Short and simple distance estimate:

    Generally, distance from fingertip to fingertip, with arms spread, is equal to height. The average adult male height is about 5'8". So, if you can hand someone an object of reasonable size (banana, piece of paper, etc) even with both of you fully extending your arms, you're too close.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Short and simple distance estimate:

      "Generally, distance from fingertip to fingertip, with arms spread, is equal to height."

      Sadly, generally is not nearly always. Some people have long arms and others have short arms. So don't rely on this. That's why it is SO helpful to have independent, objective units like the Osman.

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        Re: Short and simple distance estimate:

        OOK

      2. MrBanana

        Re: Short and simple distance estimate:

        I have short arms, and it's a pain in the arse buying jackets, coats or shirts with sleeves. But, my finger tip measurement is the same as my height because I have broad shoulders - another fitting issue.

  14. MJI Silver badge

    Just told my wife (WFH)

    Just read that the standard distance apart is an Osman.

    Well he is 6 feet.

    Actually 2m.

    So one of the best ElReg units as wife got it straight away.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The wife also imagines Richard Osman between us.

  16. ThatOne Silver badge
    Coat

    Units for courses

    > social distancing, that lovely phrase describing how far away from strangers you need to be

    It depends on the strangers of course, but in my experience most of the time the unit should be astronomical (as in, you here, them somewhere on the sun).

    (Mumble, mumble, lawn, kids)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    6 feet apart or 6 feet under

    nt

  18. Bitsminer

    Sales

    The two were seated on opposite ends of the programme's famous sofa,

    Ah, so sales of wide-screen TVs should now be rising.

  19. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Shouldnt it be a Bargepole? As in: I wouldnt touch him wiv a Bargepole in case hes got a dose.

  20. tony2heads

    nonstandard unit

    The traditional distancing measure is the Bargepole

  21. Chozo
    Coat

    The Emperor Protects!

    so long as you use imperial measurements

  22. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Och Aye

    Which NHS would you be using for the comparison? There is not just one. There’s the English one (and various private providers), the Welsh one, the Scottish one (we invented it btw) and the Northern Irish equivalent.

    Are you lumping the cost of them all together? or just assuming the English one is the only one? And if so what do you do with Branson etc’s bits of it? The privatisations in the English NHS make the thing rather too movable to act as a standard.

  23. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Spitting distance!

    If you could spit on them, they are too close. There is a very good reason for the phrase "within spitting distance" and preventing the spread of diseases is it. If they are downwind then that distance is more than 2 metres. The spitting world record is 9.766 metres, so perhaps we should be keeping 10 metres apart?

  24. Astarte

    1 Osman = 8 horses

    Standards, standards, there are so many but XKCD provides a nice image of distancing

    https://xkcd.com/2286/

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