World’s Heaviest Weight

World’s Heaviest Weight

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.

Special thanks to Patreon Supporters:
Tony Fadell, Donal Botkin, Jeff Straathof, Zach Mueller, Ron Neal, Nathan Hansen

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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%)

Music from The Epidemic Sound “Serene Story 2”

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20 Responses

  1. Vince says:

    Oh come on with the “pound force” unit, that’s silly.

  2. Miika Mäentaus says:

    Damn you freedom units…always making the rest of the world’s watching experience worse

  3. Peter says:

    So this whole setup is in imperial units?

  4. Janko Dedic says:

    Converting to Imperial just seems like an unnecessary endeavor and makes room for precision loss.

  5. Tom Mass says:

    If this is used for testing, why did they convert everything to imperial units? Wouldn’t it just be easier to keep it SI since most scientists and engineers work with SI anyway?

  6. Filipe Guedes says:

    it’s important to be wearing a hard hat if a million pounds weight falls on you

  7. Shigix says:

    didn’t understand a thing… use metrics like all scientists please !

  8. Smooch M' Gooch says:

    “Pounds of mass” **triggered**

  9. Veritasium says:

    This logically felt like the second video in the mass/weight trilogy. The finale will be the demise of the platinum-iridium cylinder

  10. Nicholai Corbie says:

    It baffles me why americans continue to use these cumbersome imperial units in preference to metric units

  11. Apple Max says:

    When the hydraulic press channel gets a small loan of a million lbs

  12. Basement Gainz says:

    Hold my beer while I squat this…

  13. B Ma says:

    I wonder how many people will complain about imperial units this time…

  14. Ewan says:

    1 million pounds means absolutely nothing to people outside murica

  15. XtreeM FaiL says:

    A million pounds. How much that is in dollars?

  16. George George says:

    The reason this is not in Kilograms is that those specific units refer to a mass. In this case they provide pounds as well as newtons to refer to weight. So yes, they did provide metric units as well as English units.

  17. Daniël w. says:

    So this is where Chuck Norris works out.

  18. Slim Jezzuz says:

    I can bench that

  19. Albert Einstein says:

    “4,448,222 Newton.
    Why such a strange number?”


    Because 10 Newton are equal to 1 Kilogramm! And you ‘muricans decided to rather take pounds!!

  20. RichieInTheBox says:

    I see a lot of people complaining about the imperial system. But did you know that it’s still heavily used in the aviation industry around the world? Just listen to some ATC recordings in the UK, Germany, France, etc. You will find that the unit of velocity they use is in Knots (nautical miles/hour), most distances are in nautical miles, and the altitude is in feet.

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