Geek Trivia

The Probability of Death Is Measured In What Units?

Male Mosquitoes Feed Exclusively On?

Answer: Micromorts

A micromort is one of the more peculiar forms of measurement in that it measures the very tiny chance of any given activity leading to your death. Specifically, one micromort is the equivalent of an activity having a one-in-a-million chance of a fatal outcome.

The unit and concept was introduced by Ronald A. Howard, a pioneer in the field of decision analysis, and is a combination of the words mortality and microprobability (a one-in-a-million chance of an event occurring).

How exactly would micromorts apply to your actual day-to-day activities? For every 230 miles you drive in a car, you increase your statistical probability of an accident and your micromort count by one. Every 1000 miles you log as an airplane passenger adds another micromort. Other activities are so inherently risky that they boost your micromort count simply by undertaking them once: hang gliding is worth 8 micromorts per flight, scuba diving is generally 5 micromorts per dive, and skydiving takes on 8 per jump.

On an interesting note, when people are questioned about risky activities and how much money it would require for them to undertake the activity, they usually put a very high price on the value of their life (and thus a steep price tag on their micromort risk). When actual financial transactions are analyzed, however, such as the amount of money people are willing to pay to add safety features to a car or to a security system for their home, the real world value of a single micromort is about $50.

Image courtesy of the American Battle Monuments Commission/Wikimedia.