Click the cover to order your copy!
Illustrated by Philip Reeve
This book was
published in 2000
by Scholastic Ltd
with a different cover

Desperate Measures

Suitable for ages 8 upwards

Everything can be measured, and this book tells you how to do it. Length, area, volume, weight, time, density, curry stains, speed... they're all in here.

Ever wondered how to:

  • weigh a bogie
  • fit 35 students into a small car
  • make an angle of 1 degree
  • measure Roman miles with one stilletoe shoe?

This book's got the lot.

Of course we also see what happens when Pongo serves Veronica with rocket fuel soup and how Dolly Snowlips causes the gangsters to lose their trousers. There's a Gollark invasion, a couple of diabolical Professor Fiendish traps and the big feature film stars Archimedes in "A Question of Principle".

Don't forget to click the EXTRA links for more details that we didn't have room for in the books!


Don't Mess With Measurements

When you're first born they weigh you, and when you depart they measure you for a box. In fact right through your life you can't escape measurements, so it's as well to know all about them. We also find out what happens when Blade Boccelli and the boys use an elastic rope and end up doing a stretch.

How Long Is A Line?

Simple measurements, getting the right units and rounding off. There's even a selection of rulers to use giving measurements in everything from Angstroms to Light Years.

Pecks Palms Pints and Pennyweights... or how many hands does a horse need?

Why old fashioned measurements are murderous, why we should all appreciate the French, and the ridiculous but true story of why a multi-million dollar space craft went missing.

Metres for Everything

This section explains how to write ANY length in metres using the SI system, and how calculators display fabulously big numbers. We also find how a tiny "-" sign saves Earth from the Evil Gollarks.
EXTRA - The LAZIEST game in the world

Big Things, Trundles and the Ten Tonne Ruler

How to measure large or awkward objects using shadow sticks, dividers and a friend called Bertie.

How many Metres are There on the Head of a Pin?

A strange little chapter about dimensions - and be careful because you might accidentally chop a teacher in half!

The Sealed Box Problem

Professor Fiendish has got you in a diabolical trap - to escape you have to find the length of the longest stick you can fit into a sealed rectangular box. Does it involve lots of measurements and nasty sums? No, just a sneaky trick if you can spot it!

Do You Shape Up?

You'll feel dead clever after you've scored 100% on this dead simple test of all the different shapes including "irregular trapeziums". Then you'll be ready for anything...

From Squares to Curry Stains

The Colonel and Duchess are sitting down to dinner as we investigate how to measure all sorts of different areas. Sadly it all gets a bit awkward, but hey, that's Murderous Maths for you. We even discover a mathematical spell to make it stop raining.
EXTRA - The Area Calculator

The Shrinking Kilogram!
The exact weight of a kilogramme is measured against one very special kg weight which was made in England out of platinum-iridium back in 1889, and ever since it has been kept in a sealed vault in Paris. BUT... over the last 114 years it's got lighter thanks to microscopic surface abrasion. (Don't ask us what that is because we don't know.) The difference is similar to having a 1kg bag of sugar and removing a single grain. So if you buy a bag of sugar and find a grain missing, you know who to blame.

Weight - and why nearly everybody makes a MASSIVE mistake

What happens to your weight in outer space, and how to weigh a dead fly.

Spangled, Tangled and Dangled Angles

Pongo and Veronica demonstrate degrees, Professor Fiendish tries to trap you on a cliff top and what are "grads" and "radians"?

Lumps, Bumps and a Question of Principle

Pongo McWhiffy accidentally makes rocket fuel soup as we discover how to measure the volume of an elephant. There's also the story of Archimedes and the cheating goldsmith set out as a superb full length cartoon feature. It's the best thing you'll ever see in a maths book. See a preview here!

How Dense Are You?

How density works, why some things float and others sink, and then our second cartoon feature which gives the unexpected Part 2 of the Archimedes story.

Why Time Is Out Of Control

Time is the one measurement we didn't make - instead it was given to us. For thousands of years people have tried to make an exact number of days and months fit into a year, but to no avail. So how did calendars develop, why did the ancient Aztecs have human sacrifices every 52 years and why did absolutely nothing at all happen in England on Sept 7th 1752?
EXTRA - Use the Age Calculator to find out how old you are to the nearest millisecond!

EXTRA - Use the Time Calculator to subtract two times. It's weird!

From Watts to Weather

There are hundreds of different units to measure almost everything you can think of. Just for interest some are listed here including decibels, horsepower, candelas and just in case you're timing your granny....speed.
EXTRA - Some Unusual Units

The Saddest Measurement of All

...and what happens when you put egg and sprout broth in a space rocket. Whoops!


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