How do you measure big forces accurately? By calibrating your force transducer on the world’s biggest weight – 1,000,000 pounds of force. This machine ensures planes don’t break apart, jets provide required thrust, and rockets make it to their destination.

Thanks to the people at NIST for showing me around: Rick Seifarth and Ben Stein. Animations here are by Sean Kelley and additional footage by Jennifer Lauren Lee.

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Before visiting NIST in Washington DC I had no idea machines like this existed. Surely there’s an accurate way to measure forces without creating such a huge known force?! Nope. This appears to be the best way, with a stack of 20 x 50,000 lb masses creating a maximum force of 4.45 MN or 1,000,000 pounds of force. I also wouldn’t have thought about all the corrections that need applying – for example buoyancy subtracts about 125 pounds from the weight of the stack. Plus the local gravitational field strength must be taken into account. And, the gravitational field varies below grade. All of this must be taken into account in order to limit uncertainty to just five parts per million (.0005%)

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46 COMMENTS

  1. NOBODY WENT TO THE MOON YOU BRAINWASHED SLAVE. NASA IS A FRAUD RUN BY FREEMASONS WHO GIVE US FAKE PICTURES OF THE EARTH COVERING UP THE FLAT EARTH AND GOD.

  2. "Am I supposed to look at the camera ?"

    Naw just keep looking at that hot girl over there….. Yes ya dumb ass look at the camera.

  3. metric is used: nothing out of the ordinary.
    imperial is used: buncha whiny brits with nothing of actual value to say taking up space in the comment section.

  4. An apple actually weighs more than 1 Newton. Most that I have checked have been 2 Newtons and greater. That is a very small apple that weighs 1 Newton.

  5. Interestingly the Newtons are the socalled 'Force' in our colloquial language, whilst the Pounds/Lbs name the socalled Weight of a body! An engine delivers x Newtons of force/thrust, while an apple has a Mass of or weighs 0,1 kg. He on the other hand – or the English language in general – turns it around in the beginning. Everybody knows what mass, force and weight are and how to relate them, but the confusion in everyday speech is quite weird after all. But I do not know, if German is the more SI-conform language. 😉 In many aspects I quite think so, it's the more accurate, sophisticated language, but English seems to be more practical and easy to handle….and mine is not so good.

  6. I always come back to this video. I don't know, it's so mesmerizing to see such a large yet accurate instrument it feels like addiction.

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