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

You are watching: Pound of feathers pound of lead

Or does it?

If you placed a lb of feather on one next of a balance and a lb of command on the other, the range would rest with both sides also with one another. But what if we were to swap the end the lead because that gold? What would happen then?

In the case, the balance would end up tilted, reflecting that the feathers weigh more. Yet it has actually nothing to perform with the feathers or the yellow itself — it has to do with how we measure your weights.

Whenever we usage the hatchet “pound” (to comment on mass/weight at least — it method something rather when discussing cakes and 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 one American. In the avoirdupois system, there are 16 ounces to a pound. Just to obtain some math the end of the method — we’ll use it shortly — one avoirdupois ounce is same to about 28.35 grams. Main point those 16 ounces by 28.35 grams and also you end up with about 453.6 grams per avoirdupois pound.

Feathers, being no all the special, room measured in avoirdupois pounds — and also so is just about everything else, from cheese and also rubber bands come graphite and also yes, lead. However gold is special. It, and other priceless metals and gemstones, are measured in something dubbed troy pounds. (It’s unsure why.) A trojan pound has only 12 oz and a trojan ounce is same to around 31.1 grams. Multiply the out, and also it comes 373.2 grams per trojan pound, or about 20% much less than what a pound of feathers weighs.

So if you desire to win a bar bet, put a pound of feathers on one next of your hypothetical balance and a (troy) lb of yellow on the other. The feathers will certainly weigh more. The course, experimentation this in genuine life might be difficult — as of this writing, a trojan pound that gold will run you an ext than $15,000.

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Bonus Fact
: A pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of lead, as listed above, but the lb of lead might feel heavier. In 2007, a research study team from Illinois State college took two equal-sized, identical and also unlabeled boxes and put a lb of feather in one and also a pound of command in the other. Then, the test subjects went into action. Wearing blindfolds — simply in case — participants satellite down with their palm of their leading hand facing upward. A researcher placed one the the box in their open hand and asked the test subject to background the box, and then repeated the trial for the other box. In ~ the end, the topic was inquiry which box felt heavier. The research team released their result in clinical journal dubbed Perception. Together their summary notes, participants “reported that the box containing the lb of lead felt more heavier at a level above chance.”

The most most likely explanation? The team offered this theory come the Guardian: “the fixed of the feathers was distributed more or much less symmetrically in package (i.e., the feather filled the box), yet the fixed of the lead was spread asymmetrically follow me the vertical axis (i.e., package was ‘bottom-heavy’). As such the box containing lead to be more daunting to control, and it feeling heavier.”

From the Archives: south Korean’s turning back Gold Rush: Here’s a meta-fact around that story: the image isn’t a yellow bar, yet rather a coco bar covering in gold paper. However, because that a couple of years, it showed up in a Google photo Search because that “gold.” (The yes, really story is likewise interesting.)

Related: A lb of (rainbow) feathers. Five pounds the lead. A pound of gold (kind of). And, just to see if you’re still payment attention, 1,500 live ladybugs (estimated ship weight: one pound).