There are many “humorous” units of measurement. Invented for a variety of reasons, they typically don’t serve much of a practical purpose beyond one or two instances. One of the more exceptional of these is the millihelen- referring to Helen of Troy. Helen of Troy is known as “the face that launched a thousand ships,” so using her namesake is pretty appropriate.
The system was invented by a Cambridge mathematician named W.A.H. Rushton. So how is it put into practice? It’s jokingly used as the measure of how much beauty is required to launch a ship. During the Trojan War, 1,186 ships came to fight for Helen of Troy. Therefore, she has a beauty rating of 1.186 helens. A negative helen is measured by the number of sunken ships or the amount of “negative beauty” that can turn ships around.
The millihelen was refined by a man named Thomas Fink, claiming one helen is the beauty of 50 million women, the number of women alive in 12th century BC. For a woman’s beauty to be scored, she must be more beautiful than other women. For a woman to have a score of 2 helens, she must be the most beautiful of twice as many women. It’s all pretty strangely complicated, and if it interests you, you can read more about it here: