The age-old riddle is simple: which weighs more, a lb of feather or a lb of lead? your instnict may be come go through the command — in equal amounts, lead, ~ all, is heavier than feathers. But this is a cheat question. A pound is a unit of weight; therefore, a lb of X weighs the exact same as a lb of Y.

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Or walk it?

If you put a lb of feathers on one side of a balance and also a pound of lead on the other, the scale would rest with both sides even with one another. However what if us were come swap the end the lead for gold? What would take place then?

In that case, the balance would finish up tilted, mirroring that the feathers weigh more. However it has nothing to carry out with the feathers or the gold itself — it has to do with exactly how we measure their weights.

Whenever we use the ax “pound” (to comment on mass/weight at least — it means something else when discussing cakes and also British currency), we’re talking around pounds as defined by something called avoirdupois system. It’s the standard, non-metric system you’re familiar with if you’re an American. In the avoirdupois system, there space 16 ounces come a pound. Just to obtain some math the end of the means — we’ll use it quickly — one avoirdupois ounce is same to about 28.35 grams. Main point those sixteen ounces through 28.35 grams and you finish up with around 453.6 grams per avoirdupois pound.

Feathers, being no all that special, are measured in avoirdupois pounds — and also so is just about everything else, from cheese and also rubber bands to graphite and yes, lead. However gold is special. It, and also other precious metals and also gemstones, space measured in something referred to as troy pounds. (It’s unclear why.) A trojan pound has actually only 12 oz and a trojan ounce is equal to about 31.1 grams. Multiply the out, and also it comes 373.2 grams per troy pound, or around 20% less than what a lb of feather weighs.

So if you want to success a bar bet, put a lb of feather on one next of your hypothetical balance and a (troy) lb of yellow on the other. The feathers will certainly weigh more. The course, testing this in actual life may be challenging — together of this writing, a trojan pound the gold will run you an ext than $15,000.

See more: What Is The Density Of Cork, Density Of Cork, Ground (Material)

Bonus Fact
: A pound of feathers weighs the exact same as a pound of lead, as listed above, yet the pound of lead might feel heavier. In 2007, a study team from Illinois State university took two equal-sized, identical and unlabeled boxes and put a lb of feather in one and a pound of lead in the other. Then, the test subjects went into action. Wearing blindfolds — just in case — participants sat down v their palm the their leading hand encountering upward. A researcher put one the the crate in their open hand and also asked the test topic to background the box, and then repeated the trial for the other box. At the end, the topic was request which box felt heavier. The research team released their findings in scientific journal dubbed Perception. As their abstract notes, participants “reported that package containing the lb of lead felt heavier at a level above chance.”

The most likely explanation? The team offered this theory come the Guardian: “the fixed of the feathers was distributed more or less symmetrically in package (i.e., the feather filled the box), but the mass of the lead was spread asymmetrically along the upright axis (i.e., the box was ‘bottom-heavy’). Therefore the box containing lead was more challenging to control, and it feel heavier.”

From the Archives: southern Korean’s reverse Gold Rush: Here’s a meta-fact about that story: the image isn’t a gold bar, yet rather a chocolate bar covering in yellow paper. However, for a few years, it showed up in a Google image Search because that “gold.” (The really story is likewise interesting.)

Related: A pound of (rainbow) feathers. 5 pounds of lead. A pound of gold (kind of). And, simply to check out if you’re still payment attention, 1,500 live ladybugs (estimated delivery weight: one pound).