Talk:Kilogram/Archive 4

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Gold atom count: a circular definition?

With a gold-based definition of the kilogram for instance, the definition of the mole would be changed from one based on a carbon-12 to the quantity of atoms as are in 196.966 569 g of gold (from the current value of 196.966 569(4) grams) and the kilogram would be defined as “the mass equal to that of precisely 1000/196.966569 moles (≅5.077 003 7021 moles) of gold atoms.”

In which way wouldn't that be a circular definition? As it currently stands, that number, 196.966569 ± 4×10−6, is twelve times the ratio between the mass of a gold-197 atom and the one of a carbon-12 atom. Of course, it is a dimensionless constant, we cannot fix it to anything, and it won't help us to define the kilogram (unless we fix the Avogadro number). Perhaps it was meant to be "the mass of 3 057 443 616 231 138 188 735 gold atoms"? If so, it should state that. --Army1987 20:50, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Army1987: Yes, you are right. The Avogadro constant (the mole) must be fixed, otherwise it would be a circular definition. It is now fixed. I can not tell you how many bright people (at least seemingly so) have looked at this article and overlooked that laps of logic. I see you are an Italian physics student and English is likely your second language. Your choice of vocation certainly seems to be the right one. My wife and I just visited Italy (and some of Europe) and just loved your country. Thanks for your help. Greg L (my talk) 06:27, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Weight and force in 2nd lead paragraph

The second paragraph of the lead currently reads:

While the weight of objects is often given in kilograms, the kilogram is, in the strict scientific sense, a unit of mass. The equivalent unit of force is the non-SI kilogram-force. Similarly, the avoirdupois pound, used in both the Imperial system and U.S. customary units, is a unit of mass and its related unit of force is the pound-force. The avoirdupois pound is defined as exactly 0.453 592 37 kg, making one kilogram approximately equal to 2.205 avoirdupois pounds.

I'm concerned that some readers, who don't know that weight is a force, will be confused about the relationship between the first sentence of this paragraph and the other three sentences. I could clear it up by explaining that weight is a force, but that seems about of place in the lead section of this article about the kilogram. Any ideas for making the relationship clear without bogging down the paragraph with irrelevant information? Enuja (talk) 01:31, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

What???? I'm a whole lot more concerned about some other readers, those who do not know that weight is never a force, if you are talking about net weight, who do not know that weight is never a force, if you are talking about troy weight, who do not know that weight is never if force if you are talking about molecular weight, and on and on and on.
You cannot make it clear, if you are trying to base it on a falsehood. Gene Nygaard 00:42, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Since this article is related to the kilogram, it is also important to note that, while the kilogram-force remains in far too common-use, and we also have to deal with historical usage when it was a proper unit, it is not now and never has been in the past used to any significant extent whatsoever for anything that is called weight. It is almost always used for things that never could be called weight. So some of the notions I've seen for changing that wording are way off base.
Just go check out the what links here at kilogram-force and show me how many of them are used for something called weight. Do the same for kilogram-force per square centimetre, and then go to horsepower and see how many of them are for the 75 kgf·m/s unit, probably the biggest remaining vestige of the use of kilograms-force. That metric horsepower doesn't deal with anything called weight either. Many of them are actually linked as horsepower#PS, but I don't know if you can backtrack to find them. Gene Nygaard 00:55, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Gene: Enuja’s concerns are spot-on and well founded. What are you talking about when you wrote “…[I’m concerned about some readers] who do not know that weight is never a force…”?

  1. According to Wikipedia’s own Weight article: “In the physical sciences, weight is a measurement of the gravitational force acting on an object.”
  2. Encyclopedia Britannica defines weight as “gravitational force of attraction on an object”.

I sure hope we are in agreement that the measurement of weight is the measurement of force and you’re not going to say Encyclopedia Britannica and everyone else are wrong. If you agree that weight is a force, then why confuse the issue with nuances like “troy weight” or “net weight”. This article is about the kilogram, which is a unit of mass that is often (incorrectly) used as unit of weight but where weight is properly measured using the kilogram-force. As Wikipedia’s own kilogram-force article says, the kilogram-force “is defined as the force exerted by one kilogram of mass in standard Earth gravity.” Given that Encyclopedia Britannica says “gravitational attraction” is the same as “weight”, then it must follow that the kilogram-force, which is the measure of Earth’s gravitational force acting upon a kilogram, is a measure of weight.

Enuja has a valid concern when she wrote about better bridging “the relationship between the first sentence of this paragraph and the other three sentences”; she’s got a damn good eye for recognizing where a novice to this topic might get confused. That’s precisely the issue I was trying to address with my compromise wording after your first round of changing “weight” to “force”. Now that I look back at what you reversion of my edit, I realize my compromise wording came up short and I'm glad it’s gone. As Enuja says however, there needs to be bridge wording to span the gulf between the concept of “weight” and that of “force.” So…

I’ve changed the second paragraph back to the very original wording. That short sentence is extremely tight prose, is spot-on accurate, and doesn’t imply anything like “this is the preferred unit of force” or any other false implications. It’s perfectly appropriate for the tight, pithy definitions that are the trademark style of Wikipedia. Enuja: do you like it as now revised? In case it gets reverted, I simply restored it to the original wording, which was as follows:

While the weight of objects is often given in kilograms, the kilogram is, in the strict scientific sense, a unit of mass. The equivalent unit of weight is the non-SI kilogram-force.

Greg L (my talk) 04:29, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a reliable source
This is not the Physical Sciences Wikipedia nor, more specific to the particular jargon meaning of that ambiguous word which you are pushing, the Mechanics Wikipedia in the particular branch of physical science sense. The kilogram used for net weight, the kilogram which replaces troy weight, the kilogram used for kerb weight, the kilogram used for human weight in the medical sciences and for the body weight of other animals as well in the sciences of zoology and paleontology and the like, the kilogram used for atomic weight are all covered by this Wikipedia article.
So are the kilograms used for the weights in the sport of weightlifting, and in weight training for many other sports. Just exactly how much difference did you think there was between the mass of a 20 kg weight used at the Helsinki Olympics and the mass of a 20 kg weight used at the Mexico City Olympics?
And which units would you use to measure that difference in mass in those 20 kg weights at those two Olympics--maybe the hyl aka TME aka mug aka metric slug? Just calculate what value to one or two significant digits that you'd expect that difference to be assuming the weights were exact, in hyls or any other units of mass, and then let's look at the results and see whether or not you agree that the difference should be measurable on the actual weights at the precision to which they are manufactured for use in the Olympics. Gene Nygaard 05:51, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
And, perhaps just as important, and to make my point explicitly clear, none of the kilograms for those weights I just mentioned involve the kilogram covered in the Wikipedia article at kilogram-force. Just the one at this article. Gene Nygaard 06:00, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Furthermore, net weight is not "properly measured in force" as you claimed. The troy weight of a 400 oz bar of platinum is not "properly measured in force" as you claimed. Get the idea? Or do I need to continue? Gene Nygaard 06:03, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
If you think otherwise, just tell me how much difference in mass there should be, between a 400 oz t bar of platinum sold in Hammerfest and a different 400 oz t bar of platinum sold in Quito. Then look up today's market price, and convert that to dollars or some other currency. And, point to all the reputable sources (non-Wikipedia) that you can find describing the troy ounce-force. Gene Nygaard 06:10, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Gene, I never said net weight is properly measured in force. I said “why confuse the issue with nuances like “troy weight” or “net weight”.” And by nuances, I meant “exceptions.” Whenever someone falsely ‘quotes’ another, it only highlights the weakness of that person’s position. You seem quick to bash Wikipedia (rightfully so in many technical matters), and then used Wikipedia to buttress your own arguments. Please be consistent; I’ve been confronted with this style of argument (trying to use a double-standard to one’s advantage) before. It doesn’t fly. You will note that I cited two references above regarding how ‘weight is a force’; the other one was Encyclopedia Britannica, which is written by experts. You conveniently ducked addressing this 800-lb bull in the china shop.
I can tell that your understanding of the topic is correct; it’s just that 1) your writen arguments here on this page—besides resorting to B.S. stunts—can at times be illogical, 2) can be entirely beside the point, and 3) the prose you put in early passages in Wikipedia articles is confusing to novices because you focus way too much on exceptions to important scientific rules. You wrote above as follows:

So are the kilograms used for the weights in the sport of weightlifting, and in weight training for many other sports. Just exactly how much difference did you think there was between the mass of a 20 kg weight used at the Helsinki Olympics and the mass of a 20 kg weight used at the Mexico City Olympics?

The above-quoted writing of yours is telling. As clearly explained in the Kilogram article, all masses have weight on Earth and this relationship is usually highly proportional. In your above-cited rhetorical question, the masses were probably calibrated to no better than one tenth of a percent on a mass comparator. The differences in gravity between the two venues might be about the same magnitude. More to the point of how your question seemed to have been intended, moving a mass artifact from one venue to another can’t alter its mass now, can it? Expanding on your question, the weight of a mass moved between the two venues would be slightly different because gravity would almost certainly be different to a measurable extent between them.
While your grasp of science is usually pretty good, your appreciation of all the exceptions to the general rule gets in your way of conveying the topic. You’ve got to learn a crucial point about writing good encyclopedias: Especially in science, there are real-life exceptions to the basic scientific principal. Yes, ‘weight’ sometimes refers to mass. But that doesn’t stop professional encyclopedias like Encyclopedia Britannica from stating that weight is a force. As much as you might like it to be so, the rest of the world is not ready to accept that Gene Nygaard is right and Encyclopedia Britannica is wrong. Still, as you’ve correctly pointed out, sometimes, 1) “weights” are very often expressed in kilograms, and 2) the term “weight” very often and even legally (U.S. Dept. of Commerce regarding “net weight”) refers to mass. Further, in common vernacular, the objects on the ends of barbells are called “weights” and there are similar usages. But none of that stops quality encyclopedias from stating that “weight is a force”, and for good reason. Seeming “inaccuracies” like these are necessary in the early passages of encyclopedias in order to make the important, general rule clear; the exceptions are given proper treatment in later sections in good encyclopedias. This is simply the way things are done. You have to accept this reality of conveying complex issues in a clear manner in encyclopedias and won’t be able to make a convincing case for why Gene Nygaard is going to change this reality.
Now, all that said, I tend to agree with your point even though you resorted to B.S. stunts like 1) alleging “quotes” to me that I never wrote, and 2) avoiding addressing the 800-pound bull in the china shop known as Encyclopedia Britannica, and 3) bashed Wikipedia as a reference when I use it and then you use it as a reference yourself. Your written arguments are faulty beyond measure and don’t hold water. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the fact that your own writings strongly undermine your position you’re trying to make, I tend to agree with you. An important point you seem to be making is that “weight” can properly be expressed in kilograms. Now we’re left with these facts:
  1. In the strict scientific sense, ‘weight’ is a force (again, I won’t accept arguments that Encyclopedia Britannica is wrong and Gene Nygaard is right).
  2. Force is properly expressed in the SI unit newton
  3. On Earth, the relationship between mass and weight is usually highly proportional
  4. Force may also be expressed in the non-SI unit kilogram-force; particularly when the mass is given in kilograms
  5. In common usage, gravitational loads (weight) are expressed in kilograms
  6. Scientifically, a mass of one kilogram creates a gravitational force (weight) of one kilogram-force within the usual limits of uncertainty of the mass measurement.
  7. Certain usages of the term “weight”, like “net weight”, technically and legally refers to mass.
  8. Gravitational loads (weights) may properly be expressed using the unit kilogram even though the kilogram is technically a unit of mass.
As much as I hate loading up early paragraphs with extra verbiage to handle scientific exceptions, I’m going to give a try at compromise wording that should address both your point, and mine. I’m going to think about it for a while before doing so; I want it to be damn-tight prose that isn’t loaded up with caveats and exceptions. Introductory passages in encyclopedias have to be written in simple, clear prose. Leaving it as you’ve currently got it, with no logical connection between the concepts of “force” and “weight” isn’t good either. Greg L (my talk) 18:32, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Why have you been insisting that the article not use the word "force" in those particular instances, and replace that word "weight", when 1) the word weight is an ambiguous one, sometimes meaning mass in the physics jargon meaning (mass is also ambiguous, of course), and sometimes meaning a particular type of force, and 2) the force being talked about is broader than the forces that are ever called weight in anybody's book. Gene Nygaard 19:09, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Some good comes out of these arguments. Your concern over the ambiguous meaning of “weight” — although over-hyped at this point into the article — highlights a legitimate concern that is easily addressed: one can parenthetically add “(force due to gravity)” after using the word “weight” in a few choice places. Greg L (my talk) 19:53, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

The word weight is used because when you put something on a scale, you weigh it to find out its mass, you don't force your thumb on the scale along with the grapes or apples to force the reading to be higher. Or at least you aren't supposed to. Force is usually used in terms of pushing something, weight is a shorthand term for the force of gravity. 199.125.109.105 19:21, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

If you abuse a measuring device, not using it the way it is intended to be used, you get bad results. What's surprising about that?
The only weighing scales mankind had for the first 7,000 years or so that they weighed things were mass-measuring balances (the local acceleration of gravity cancels out, applying equally on both sides). You couldn't get a spring scale even as recently as 200 years ago; they didn't exist, even though the principles behind them had been described by 17th century pioneers.
When I was a kid, all the grocery stores were still using balances, though they had evolved to the point where you didn't have to use loose weights on them, having a dial or drum readout, some even with price calculators based showing total price at 19¢/lb and the like, but still giving "HONEST WEIGHT: NO SPRINGS".
Today, the scales used in commerce are still calibrated and tested and certified on the basis of their accuracy in measuring mass in the very location in which they are used, not on their accuracy in measuring force. Gene Nygaard 19:39, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Gene. The area we’re battling over is well down into the depths of section titled Mass vs. weight. At this point in the article, the nuances and distinctions of mass, force, and weight are abundantly clear. I’ve worked as an engineer in departments with scores of engineers. Young, degreed engineers who should know better don’t understand some of this stuff. At this point, I’m speaking to that audience. I see no reason to tackle the opening definition today. I’m going to think about this overnight. That usually enables me to better “get into the head” of the opposing party. Relax. Greg L (my talk) 19:35, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Only three words added and I didn’t even have to touch what you wrote. As now worded, the article adheres to the proper scientific usage of “weight”, where one would write that “an astronaut’s weight on the Moon is one-sixth of that on Earth whereas his mass hasn’t appreciably changed during the trip.” No one uses language like “on the Moon, the downward force of gravity acting on an astronaut’s mass is one-sixth…” The article also gives full treatment to the subject of how “weight” has different meanings depending on the context. In practice and spirit, the words are defined and used the same as in Encyclopedia Britannica and physics books. Peace? Greg L (my talk) 22:57, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Greg L asked me, on my talk page, to weigh in on this issue again. I must say I'm dissapointed with the tone of the discussion, and I speficially didn't post a reply last night as I couldn't think of a nice thing to say. I think its safe to say that we all understand the difference between force due to gravity and the amount of matter in an object, so it would be most construtive if everyone refrained from criticizing the research methodology, rhetorical style, and linguistic philosophy of other editors. The argument about the meaning of the word "weight" in various instances does not belong here. I think Greg L's edit was a move towards making the statement more understandable, but I do think Gene Nygaard still has a point that, when most people think about "weight" they are thinking about mass. How about

Although kilogram is defined (upload the appropriate CIPM document to Wikiquote and link to it here) as a unit of mass, the weight of objects (their gravitational force) is often given in kilograms, and in many situations the terms "mass" and "weight" are used interchangeably. The non-SI unit of force related to the kilogram is the kilogram-force. Similarly, the avoirdupois pound, used in both the Imperial system and U.S. customary units, is a unit of mass and its related unit of force is the pound-force. The avoirdupois pound is defined as exactly 0.453 592 37 kg, making one kilogram approximately equal to 2.205 avoirdupois pounds.

Enuja (talk) 23:27, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

  • In my opinion, the opening paragraphs don’t need to be expanded with caveats any more. I can never argue with your point that the way we argue can always be improved. But when you wrote “The argument about the meaning of the word "weight" in various instances does not belong here”, well, that sounded “pretty” but I couldn't disagree more Enuja; the meaning of the word is central to giving it proper treatment in an article dealing with issues surrounding the concepts of mass and weight. Your statement is a little like declaring that an argument over the definition of a word doesn’t belong in a discussion page of an on-line dictionary. Reasonable people can disagree over words that have different meanings in different contexts and how to give proper treatment to the subject in an encyclopedia. Gene and I are both stubborn. If we have to add more text in an early part of the article (I hope not), I would propose a link to a section, as in…
While the weight of objects (their gravitational force) is often given in kilograms, the kilogram is, in the strict scientific sense, a unit of mass (see Mass vs. weight, below). The equivalent unit of force is the non-SI kilogram-force. Similarly, the avoirdupois pound, used in both the Imperial system and U.S. customary units, is a unit of mass and its related unit of force is the pound-force. The avoirdupois pound is defined as exactly 0.453 592 37 kg, making one kilogram approximately equal to 2.205 avoirdupois pounds.
Since the passage in question is located above the table of contents, that didn’t seem necessary to me though. Greg L (my talk) 00:19, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
I think discussing the meaning of the word "weight" at the discussion page for weight makes sense. I just don't think it makes sense to argue about the word here. We need to find a way to construct an introduction that works for everyone, no matter how they use the word "weight." Enuja (talk) 02:22, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • We’ve been admonished Gene. I think we’re supposed to shake hands now. Wanna come over and see my Mickey Mantle baseball card? Greg L (my talk) 04:26, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Greg's list, with my comments (his italicized with original italics upright for clarity)

  1. In the strict scientific sense, ‘weight’ is a force (again, I won’t accept arguments that Encyclopedia Britannica is wrong and Gene Nygaard is right).
    • Simply false.
    • More importantly, a leading question built on false premises (especially evident in the parenthetical comment), see #800-lb bull in the china shop below.
  2. Force is properly expressed in the SI unit newton
    • Agreed. Other units in other systems, of course.
  3. On Earth, the relationship between mass and weight is usually highly proportional
    • Not really. First of all, let's make it clear that we are discussing the "relationship between mass and force due to gravity".
    • It depends in large part on the purpose of the measurement and the precision to which the comparison is being made. We don't know what our readers are going to have in mind.
  4. Force may also be expressed in the non-SI unit kilogram-force; particularly when the mass is given in kilograms
    • First clause: It may be. We don't need to encourage doing so; but we do need to be aware of that historical, and unfortunately too-often-continuing, usage.
    • Second clause: Non sequitur. Kilograms-force are most often used for things other than force due to gravity. What would be the "mass given in kilograms" when we are talking about a rocket's thrust of 3,750 newtons? It doesn't correspond to any measurement of mass. Same thing if somebody calls a bicycle spoke's tension 80 daN (in one of those pseudo-SI usages used to hang onto obsolete units, similar to the hPa of metrologists and the dS/m of soils scientists, so that can hang onto their old ever-so-handy units (at least in their minds) by pretending to change to SI). What is the corresponding "mass measured in kilograms" there? None.
  5. In common usage, gravitational loads (weight) are expressed in kilograms
    • What does your use of the ambiguous word weight contribute to that statement?
    • Consider the load limit on an elevator in a building. Let's say, for example, that it is 500 kg. If the passengers actually weigh 467 kg at one particular time, what is the incremental load, in units of force, on the elevator due to the passengers? Let's say that the local accereration of gravity at that place has been measured to be 9.7987 m/s² at the ground floor. Got your answer yet?
    • Did you remember to take into consideration the fact that the elevator moves? I hadn't told you yet that the maximum deceleration relative to the ground of this particular hypothetical elevator when it reaches the ground floor is 2.43 m/s²? Now what's your answer?
    • Those loads are properly measures of mass, expressed in kilograms. In addition to the above, that's what the passengers are going to know about themselves and be able to guess about their fellow passengers, in determining whether they are going over the limit.
    • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International), Standard for Metric Practice, E 380-79, ASTM 1979.
      • "3.4.1.5 The term load means either mass or force, depending on its use. A load that produces a vertically downward force because of the influence of gravity acting on a mass may be expressed in mass units. A load that produces a force from anything other than the influence of gravity is expressed in force units."
  6. Scientifically, a mass of one kilogram creates a gravitational force (weight) of one kilogram-force within the usual limits of uncertainty of the mass measurement.
    • Patently false. What's your major unstated assumption here? Surely you can figure that out.
    • And still false if you fix that. We've had measurements where it would have made a difference, if we hadn't been measuring mass, for millennia.
    • Furthermore, in any case we don't need to be encourage the use of these deprecated units by including anything of the sort in this article.
  7. Certain usages of the term “weight”, like “net weight”, technically and legally refers to mass.
    • Yes. And that usage is also historically and linguistically correct.
    • And it's not just certain usage. It is most usage, by almost anybody (even most physicists don't have much occasion to deal, in a professional context, with anything called "weight" in the physics jargon sense once they get past high school or college Physics 101 classes).
  8. Gravitational loads (weights) may properly be expressed using the unit kilogram even though the kilogram is technically a unit of mass.
    • Already discussed in #5 above.

Gene Nygaard 15:56, 22 October 2007 (UTC)


P.S. to Greg's attempts to use another Wikipedia article as a source

Since you are basing your arguments above in part on the Wikipedia article at weight, please go check out the only reliable source cited as a reference in that article, on exactly the point for which it is cited. It specifically says that "the SI unit of the quantity weight used in this sense is the kilogram". Can't get much more straightforward than that, can you? It also, of course, describes a different meaning of the ambiguous word weight, for which the SI unit of weight is the newton. Gene Nygaard 06:26, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

I'll charibably assume that you just failed to read the whole article. Gene Nygaard 06:28, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Not worthy of a response. See above answer. Greg L (my talk) 18:32, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Clarification in response to Enuja's comments below: the above quote is from NIST, at Guide for the Use of the International System of Units (SI), 1995, NIST Special Publication 881, section 8.3[1] Gene Nygaard 14:17, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

800-lb bull in the china shop

Greg accuses me of "avoiding addressing the 800-pound bull in the china shop known as Encyclopedia Britannica".

So let's deal with that now.

The Encyclopædia Britannica also has an article on "Weights and measures", right? What does "weight" mean there?

How does Encyclopædia Britannica actually use the word weight throughout its encyclopedia? Just like everybody else does, most often meaning the quantity called mass in physics jargon (something different from the mass referred to by bodybuilders and various other meanings of mass).

Greg says: "Given that Encyclopedia Britannica says “gravitational attraction” is the same as “weight”, then it must follow that the kilogram-force, which is the measure of Earth’s gravitational force acting upon a kilogram, is a measure of weight."

That's full of several different logical fallacies, but let's deal with the primary one:

Giving one definition of an ambigous word does not mean that it does not have other meanings as well.
A vector usually means something different to an insect control officer than it does to a mathematician.
A cell usually means something different to a jail warden than it does to a biologist.
A hanging means something different to an interior decorator than to an executioner. But the fact that our Wikipedia article goes to the executioner's definition doesn't mean that the interior decorator is stupid and misusing the English language.

More to follow. Gene Nygaard 13:45, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Gene, lighten up and take a deep breath. As you have been so diligent in pointing out, “weight” means different things in different contexts. That much is clearly covered here in the Kilogram article as well as in various articles in Encyclopedia Britannica. However, within the confines of science and physics, “weight’ has one very specific meaning, which is embodied and properly covered in Encyclopedia Britannica as well as here in the Kilogram article. Encyclopedia Britannica very simply defines “weight” as “[the] gravitational force of attraction on an object, caused by the presence of a massive second object, such as the Earth or Moon.” Without this simple and precise meaning in science and physics, one could not write the simple scientifically true statement (oft quoted by NASA) that “one weighs less on the Moon than on the Earth.” You can cite a zillion common-vernacular exceptions where this scientific usage isn’t observed but that doesn’t change the facts that encyclopedias on articles dealing with science and physics topics adhere to the proper usage in articles covering topics like “mass” and “weight”. The common-usage exceptions to the scientific rule are perfectly well covered in the appropriate place in Kilogram article so the reader won't be mislead.

    Your argument is analogous to the common-notion sense understading of the word “fluid” (as in “cleaning fluid”) vs. the scientific, engineering, and physics sense, where fluids include gases as well as liquids. Sorry, but an encyclopedia topic on “fluid” must define it strictly per the scientific definition (as does Wikipedia’s own article on it) and no amount of citing all the common usage exceptions will change this fact. Greg L (my talk) 19:24, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Geez! Now you go spouting off about NASA. Wake up!
It is also true that NASA tells us that the "weight" of the Apollo 11 lunar lander at liftoff of the ascent stage was "10,776.6 lbs". (Selected Mission Weights). So don't be going overboard on your "scientific usage" claims. That is standard NASA terminology, evident in some to the dialogues between mission control and the astronauts asking for this "weight", labeled that way on their onboard readouts. Gene Nygaard 19:41, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
No, no peace. You still don't get it. Gene Nygaard 19:41, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
The Encyclopædia Britannica article on Weights and measures is a whole lot more relevant to our article on the kilogram than the EB article on Weight.
But in any case, that isn't determinative of anything. There's no reason for us to stoop to Encyclopædia Britannica standards. Gene Nygaard 20:01, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Then would you propose we put it to an official vote and ask for input and consensus from others as to whether we should “stoop” to Encyclopedia Britannica’s level or rise to yours? Greg L (my talk) 20:06, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
If you do "get" it, what was the mass of that LM, in the kilograms discused in this article (NASA's weight = 10,776.6 lb)? Can you figure that out? Gene Nygaard 20:23, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Hint for Greg L

The actual acceleration is what gives rise to the force, not some made-up one.

Gene Nygaard 03:13, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Get real Gene. No one hires a gravimetry firm to find out what local gravity is when calculating the loads in a parking garage. Since gravity rarely varies more than ±0.3% around Earth, engineers just use the value for one standard gravity and round off the result since they’re lucky if their mass loadings are accurate to even 1%. Greg L (my talk) 03:21, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't take a "gravimetry firm" to get a good approximation of your local acceleration of gravity good to three digits or so. All you need is your latitude and elevation, and some readily available formulas.
Some will, of course, borrow that standard value as an approximation—especially if they have the standard acceleration built into a calculator. That doesn't mean it has any real relevance to the calculation. It has no place whatsoever in our article. Gene Nygaard 03:29, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
In that particular section of our article, that is; it might fit elsewhere, but that's probably mostly in stuff that doesn't need to be here because it is mostly relevant to the kilogram-force article and already covered there. Gene Nygaard 03:33, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
It doesn’t matter; no one bothers to measure gravity to such accuracy because the mass loading assumptions are subject to enormously arbitrary load factor assumptions (like 1.5 x the limit load) so they just use the number 9.8 or 9.81 or 9.80665 and round the result. And in a section dealing with the distinction of mass and weight, it absolutely belongs. User: Rhialto liked the section enough to offer this edit to improve it after you and I started doing edit wars on it. Greg L (my talk) 03:36, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, if you only need ±50% accuracy, or maybe one significant digit in the result, why in the world are you insisting that this article needs to tell people that they are supposed to use a factor with six apparently significant digits (and which, in fact, when used for the purposes for which it is intended, is an exact number not limited to six significant digits) to determine this, especially when that number is not the correct one for the purpose. This has got to be one of the all-time dumbest arguments I've ever seen anybody put forth in support of trying to retain disputed wording. Worst of all, it doesn't surprise me. Gene Nygaard 09:27, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't think it's particularly helpful to argue about the number of significant figures here. The value of g and how it is rounded are pretty much irrelevant to the text, so I have re-worded it to avoid the issue. Let me know what you think of the change. --Slashme 13:06, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Buoyancy sometimes is, sometimes not part of weight, but doesn't belong here either way

Whether or not buoyancy is accounted for or not in what is called "weight" is not consistent. Weight is used both ways. It depends in part on the context.

But in any case, that is a discussion for the Weight article. It doesn't belong here. Gene Nygaard 09:03, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Disruptive edits

Gene. I’ve tried to be patient but your continued edits trying to change accepted facts in physics are becoming disruptive. Encyclopedia Britannica very simply defines “weight” as “[the] gravitational force of attraction on an object, caused by the presence of a massive second object, such as the Earth or Moon.” Wikipedia’s Weight article defines weight as follows: In the physical sciences, weight is a measurement of the gravitational force acting on an object. World Book (print edition) says this under Weight: Weight is the gravitational force put forth on an object by the planet on which the object is located. Further, the Kilogram article adheres perfectly to Encyclopedia Britannica’s discussion of the distinction between “weight” and “mass”. The article also gives proper and fair treatment to the fact that the term “weight” in common vernacular can occasionally mean “mass.”

With regard to Encyclopedia Britannica’s article on weight you’ve written here that we shouldn’t “stoop” to their level and you’ve also written that Wikipedia’s own article on weight, which is linked to in several places in this article can’t be trusted. Other editors besides me have made edits that counter yours. I’ve leaned over backwards and several parenthetical instances of “(force due to gravity)” have been placed after various instances of “weight” to help the reader understand the point. These parenthetical explanations go far beyond other encyclopedic treatments; my print edition of World Book doesn’t even mention that “weight" may sometimes mean “mass” in common vernacular. In light of these realities, which were carefully explained to you above, you’re placement of a “factual dispute” tag on this article just because you aren't getting your way borders on vandalism. I see from your edits and arguments in places like Talk:Mass and in various areas of the Weight article, that you’ve take up the cause there, trying to redefine the commonly accepted usage of the term to “force due to gravity.” Your continued edits to change reality are without foundation and are disruptive. You’ve been warned. Greg L (my talk) 16:16, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Britannica again? The discussion place for that is above. Now World Book too?
How about what NIST says? Why are you ignoring that? Gene Nygaard 17:23, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Circuitious argument with nothing new said. Not worthy of a response. You would be advised to see what Tim Bedding, who is a professor of astrophysics at the School of Physics, University of Sydney has to say at here on Talk: Mass, Disruptive edits regarding your rampage on this issue. Greg L (my talk) 17:43, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
A seven-word sentence "I agree with the comments by Greg L". On a talk page where we've had little discussion, with no indication whatsoever that he has read any of the discussion at this page? And still no explanation forthcoming from you as to how that gives him any expertise in explaining to us what the "weight" and "pounds" and "kilograms" mean on my bag of sugar?
Lay of the inappropriate appeals to authority. Discuss the issues at hand. Gene Nygaard 18:29, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

My seven-word sentence says it all: I agreed with the comments that were made. And yes, I did read them before agreeing. In everyday use, "weight" and "mass" are used interchangably (I myself would say "I weigh 75kg" rather than "my mass is 75kg"). But in physics, weight and mass have different units, and "I weigh 75kg" is strictly not correct. Simple and nothing controversial about it. Timb66 14:09, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Well, sure. That's a point I've been repeatedly making, one which Greg L seems to be incapable of understanding. It is not the "75 kg" which makes "my weight is 75 kg" wrong in that one particular context. Rather, the problem is that we are stuck with an unimaginative choice made generations ago by some physicists looking for a word to use in their jargon for the force due to gravity, and deciding to use weight for that.
The way this article has been written at various times (and is right now), the clear implication is that it is the word kilogram that is being used with a different meaning. That is just plain, flat-out wrong.
There is an additional problem which shows up in your last statement there. A distinction has grown up between the use of the noun "weight" and the use of the verb "to weigh". Because "to mass" as a verb in this context is an uncommon, substandard usage which grates on the ears of most people, including many chemists especially and physicists or whatever, the use of the verb weigh to mean "to measure the mass of" or "to have a mass" of remains common even among those who wouldn't thing of using the noun "weight" to apply to the results. This particular distinction is actually discussed in various places, such as the Canadian Standard for Metric Practice. Gene Nygaard 15:00, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

"Disputed" and "Misleading" tags

I do not think this article warrants either "disputed" or "misleading" tags. Gene, is there something other than the use of the term "weight" which you find to be misleading or factually disputed? As I have said before, this is an article about the kilogram. Any disagreement about the appropriate use of the word "weight" is not factual in nature and so cannot be a factual dispute. This is a linguistic dispute about a word that is relevant to the concept of the kilogram, but this dispute does not put into jeopardy any actual facts ABOUT THE KILOGRAM. Please do not add these tags without a detailed explanation on this talk page of the facts that are disputed or the passages that are misleading. Enuja (talk) 20:32, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

You know full well that it is still disputed; and you know that even the points you raised haven't been dealt with yet.
You know that it wasn't proper for Greg, especially, to be removing those tags.
Some progress has been made—but it has mostly been of the nature of one step forward zero steps forward and two steps back.
For example, Greg L seems, after having reverted about three times, to have acquiesced in the removal of the one use of 9.80665 m/s² that was totally improper. Yet we can't be sure, since he hasn't actually acknowledged any such acquiescence here that I've noticed. [Correction: I was indeed premature in this conclusion. Gene Nygaard 02:12, 25 October 2007 (UTC)]
Yet he continues to avoid discussing the issues, raising false and ungrounded appeals to authority (even when his "authority" actually said absolutely nothing), and continues to falsely accuse me of disruptive editing, even though it was my editing and discussion here that played a major role in changing that number mentioned above, etc.
Yes, I can probably enumerate some of the continuing areas of concern. But even without that, you know full that the issues raised have not been reasonably dealt with here, and that it remains disputed.
Even though this article is primarily concerned with metrology, Greg also studiously continues to avoid addressing what NIST, professionals in this field, had to say about this, quoted in the discussion above. Maybe you'd like to respond to that? Gene Nygaard 02:28, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
An article is only disputed if the facts presented in the article are disputed. It does not count as disputed if the language used to express the facts is under dispute. I am honestly unaware of any current factual debate about this article, and would be very willing to address any facts that are under debate, if you'd be so kind as to explain to me which facts are under debate. I'll add a paragraph about the NIST quote above as soon as I find it and read the source of the quote. Enuja (talk) 02:38, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Okay, even when searching for "NIST", I can't find any quote from the NIST on this page, so I must admit I don't know what quote you are talking about. I did find the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International), Standard for Metric Practice, E 380-79, ASTM 1979 quote, but, to me, that says "you can leave weight (force due to gravity) in mass units if you want to" not "the kilogram is properly a measure of weight." However, since you keep bringing up the NIST, I decided to check out their website. I searched for kilogram and this [2] page was the first result. It says, in part "The 3d CGPM (1901), in a declaration intended to end the ambiguity in popular usage concerning the word "weight," confirmed that: 'The kilogram is the unit of mass; it is equal to the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram.'" So I'm pretty comfortable that it's a widely accepted general principle that the kilogram is a unit of mass as opposed to be being a unit of weight. Sure, there are detailed that rules include the word "net weight" with a asterisk that goes to a note at the bottom that says something like "in this context, "net weight" means mass instead of weight (force due to gravity)," but to me this also supports the general point. When the phrase that includes the word "weight" describes a mass, there needs to be a note that this phrase means mass, because the word "weight" now means "force due to gravity." Enuja (talk) 03:01, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
The NIST statement is at #P.S. to Greg's attempts to use another Wikipedia article as a source above: it says:
  • "the SI unit of the quantity weight used in this sense is the kilogram"
while also pointing out that in other senses, NIST says the SI unit of the quantity weight is the newton. In other words, it depends on which of the many meanings of this ambiguous word is being used, for some it is one SI unit and for others the other SI unit.
You are right, it wasn't identified as being from NIST here. But you have also been involved in discussing this article and its relationship to the article at weight, where it remains the only citation to a reputable source. Gene Nygaard 14:14, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Disputed

  1. Introduction
    1. A dubious tag has been placed on the major already discussed bone of contention.
  2. In Kilogram#Mass vs. weight
    1. Issues have been raised above about the appropriateness to this entire section to the article, and have not been resolved
  3. In Kilogram#The distinction between the two
    1. Saying that mass is "quite distinct from the downwards gravitational force" is appropriate. Trying to push a point of view that the latter is God's ordained meaning of the ambiguous word weight is not.
    2. We've actually had a number of astronauts on the moon. A citation from a reliable source indicating what the "weight" of any one of them actually was on the moon and on the Earth would change this from a hypothetical to a real example example. If none of them are available, then we can substute for that hypothetical a real-world example that is available: the weight of the various lunar modules at various times while they were on the moon.
    3. The "in the physical sciences" language remains under active dispute; it is far too broad in scope.
    4. Non sequitur. The use of weight in commerce does not follow from "relationship is highly proportional". It is independent of that. The problems here involve deceptive and misleading wording,
    5. In the U.S., kilograms are required for many applications. The phrasing and location of the parenthetical (U.S.) is misleading. The utility of that parenthetical is also marginal.
    6. The load index stuff about tires is nonsense. That is, unless you are shopping for the cheapest tires you can find for a car you plan to up on a pedestal, letting it sit there in a static display, showing it off to people who drive by in some grandiouse display that you have money to burn (in which case, why would you worry about getting tires that are only marginally capable of bearing the load?). Once the car moves, that all changes. When you fly over a bump, and especially when you run your car's tires into the concrete curb lurching you to a stop, the majority of the force load which is brought to bear on that tire is not due to he gravitational force on the car, but it does remain intimately tied to the mass of the car. Furthermore, and for similar reasons, the curb weight, and if anybody is ever going to measure or sum up the actual fully loaded weight to determine if the load on the tires is, and properly so, measured in kilograms when metric units are used. There has been some discussion in this regard. No resolution.
  4. In Kilogram#The unit of force: kilogram force
    1. The primary purpose of this section appears to be to imply that people who use weights expressed in kilograms are dumb shits who don't know what they are doing. The whole tone is disputed, as well as the factual accuracy of the claims made there. The clear implication, too, as currently written, is that it is the word "kilogram" that is being used in a different way, when it is actually the word "weight" being used in a different yet entirely proper way from that otherwise used in this secito.
    2. This section is especially dubious on relevance grounds, given that we have long had, and should continue to have for the future, a separate article on the kilogram-force.
  5. In Kilogram#Buoyancy and "conventional mass"
    1. The ton of lead riddle is riddled with problems.
    2. Whether or not buoyancy is accounted for in measurements of weight, in any meaning of the word, varies. There is no universal standard. It depends on the context is made. When buoyancy is accounted for in some way, the term "weight" is often qualified; e.g., "weight in air" when discussing the 1824 definition of the imperial gallon, "weight in water" when discussing various buoyance related problems. Or the converse, the need to specifically identify "weight in vacuum" in some contexts. Plus the "conventional" adjective discussed here for reference weights (also called reference masses) used by various weights and measures regulators and scale manufacturers. In fact, when discussing the force meanings of the word weight, NIST SP811 tells us that "The local force of gravity on a body, that is, its weight, consists of the resultant of all the gravitational forces acting on the body and the local centrifugal force due to the rotation of the celestial object. The effect of atmospheric buoyancy is usually excluded, and thus the weight of a body is generally the local force of gravity on the body in vacuum." That's the opposite of the convention used in what's in this article as it stands now. It doesn't mean that, and we don't necessarily have to argue about, one way is right and the other way is wrong. What it does point out is that we should not misleadingly present this way of looking at it as an established fact, something universally followed when discussing weight. It most certainly is not that.
    3. Other sources, of course, also make a distinction between "weight" and "apparent weight" on a different basis, and there is no universal agreement on how that is to be done, either. What some call just plain "weight", others call "apparent weight". This ties in with the notion of weightlessness as, for example, at the International Space Station, where the gravitational pull of the Earth on it and its inhabitants is 90% of what it is at the surface of the Earth. Interesting stuff; but probably no more relevant to the article on the kilogram than anything else in this entire section under the level 2 header and all of its subsections.
  6. In Kilogram#Types of scales and what they measure
    1. Some things might still be in dispute. It remains to be seen whether they are or not.
    2. A wording change has resulted in vagueness.
    3. The Wikipedia article for this is weighing scale, not even linked to here.[linked]
  7. In Kilogram#Watt balance
    1. In an article so intimately tied to the fundamental standards of the International System of Units, the SI units must be used. Granted, the kilogram was the mass standard for the various centimeter-gram-second systems as well. But cgs is not the modern metric system; SI is.
    2. Whether or not the cgs units Greg L insists on should be there as well is open to debate. Milligals don't really serve any useful purpose in helping anyone understand the kilogram, so I'd say they should just be dropped.
    3. In any case, in the "See also" the link to gal (unit) has no particular relevance to the kilogram or to this article. That cgs unit has dimensions of L T−2, with nary an M to be seen
  8. In Kilogram#Stability of the International Prototype Kilogram and Kilogram#Glossary
    1. Since this point is being raised here for the first time, the section was not flagged. It is not yet known whether a controversy will arise.
    2. I'm reasonably certain that the original 40 or whatever the precise numbers were not "replicas" of the IPK, as that term is defined in the glossary. The IPK chosen from among them only after all had been constructed; the others were not constructed from the IPK. Don't remember if it was on the basis of being the prettiest, or just at random, or maybe some other basis.
    3. There is also some overkill, especially noticeable here but present in other parts of the article as well, things which would be better if pruned.

Since Enuja and Greg L have insisted on going this route, it will, of course, necessarily take some time for each of these issues to even be brought of for discussion in the contest of an identified dispute. This merely identifies the problems; it doesn't present all the arguments related to them.

There may be a little problem with too much U.S. slant, especially in things like comparisons of the national standards. Suggest someone check out the Swedish national standards lab; they had some detailed information online info about comparisons of their national standard kilogram. Likely some other national standards agencies too, most of them have websites which can be found on a list at the BIPM site. Gene Nygaard 14:02, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

  • The above list is probably incomplete. Put discussion below subheader. Add additional disputed issues here:
  1. In what is sometimes a fourth-level header "Converting mass to weight in engineering" and sometimes in Kilogram#The_unit_of_force:_kilogram-force
    1. This is one that I had mistakenly considered to be resolved after Slashme's last edit. But Greg L is once again insisting that some calculations should involve—expressed in symbols here for clarity but usually in words in the text—gn (standard gravity), a constant which is a construct of metrology rather than physics, in place of the appropriate variable g (gravitational acceleration) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gene Nygaard (talkcontribs) 13:17, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  2.  

Discussion of disputed issues

I totally, absolutely, positively agree with the great majority of Gene Nygaard's points above; this article needs to link to other appropriate articles instead of trying to explain the entire subject of metrology here, and it needs to stop pretending that there is one true way to describe mass and weight. However, I totally disagree with Gene's placement of every single one of the "factual accuracy is disputed" tags, except, possibly, the tag on Kilogram#The_distinction_between_the_two. However, the only part of that section whose actual factual accuracy is disputed is the last sentence. The little in-text disputed tag would fit much better, and it's be even better to use just the damn moon analogy as the only example of mass v. weight in this article. It's not the accuracy, it's the wording and placement of the ideas that need to change. Littering this article with all of these tags will make readers doubt the facts they are learning in the article. This is misplaced doubt. Just because the article needs work, doesn't mean it needs work with its factual accuracy. The only tag I think makes complete sense is the relevance tag on Kilogram#The_unit_of_force:_kilogram-force. Enuja (talk) 14:56, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Enuja, you wrote above that “[the Kilogram article] needs to stop pretending that there is one true way to describe mass and weight.” Enuja, there is only one way to define “mass” in the physical sciences. Period. You know that (or at least should). Also, there is only one way to properly define “weight” in the physical sciences, as has been abundantly demonstrated above in numerous references to other, professional encyclopedias. In physics books and physics-related topics in encyclopedias (which Wikipedia is supposed to be) weight means one thing: “force due to gravity.” Further, as I also pointed out above, the print version of World Book doesn’t even bother to mention the exception that “weight” in trade and commerce actually refers to mass (which is measured in kilograms) but our Kilogram article does. If you are confused as to the true facts, all these issues are summarized very well in the NPL’s What are the differences between mass, weight, force and load? FAQ white paper, which states “Scientifically, however, it is normal to state that the weight of a body is the gravitational force acting on it…”.

    Have you started to buy into Gene Nygaard’s argument that “There's no reason for us to stoop to Encyclopedia Britannica”? One of his last arguments to support how “weight” doesn’t necessarily mean “force due to gravity” was by challenging me (here) to explain what this means “on my bag of sugar: NET WT 10 LB 4.54 kg”. Of course, this is an issue plucked from, and directly covered in, the Kilogram article. After a professor of astrophysics at the School of Physics, University of Sydney said he agreed with my position on Gene’s disruptive and unfounded edits, Gene challenged him with the same question. The professor handily answered it. It should come as absolutely zero surprise, as his other posts here and elsewhere demonstrate, that Gene doesn’t recognize this fellow’s credentials or opinion on what is a simple, flat-out fact. Gene’s arguments are circuitous beyond reason and he either isn’t reading what’s in the article, or he can’t understand it, or he refuses to accept it. When he wasn’t getting his way here, he went over to Mass and engaged in the same sort of disruptive edits there. His abuse of the collaborative writing process here on Wikipedia has brought us to the point that no reasonable and rational human being should have to put up with any more of his vandalism. I received an e-mail last night from an editor who ran up against Gene in another article. It was a letter of “condolences” for what I am dealing with. One can not battle irrational behavior with rational behavior to any sensible conclusion; at some point, the process of trying to debate him must end and any of his unreasonable edits simply reverted for what they are: vandalism. User:Slashme, User:Timb66, and I have all had our input and seem to be rather satisfied with what’s in the Kilogram article. If Gene wants to make good-faith edits, he’s more than welcome. But if he continues to try to change the world of physics to conform to his distorted and incorrect view of the world, he can start at Encyclopedia Britannica and elsewhere; it won’t start here. Greg L (my talk) 20:33, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Greg L, I do agree with you that there is only one way to define "weight" in the physical sciences. I disagree with you that this kilogram article is only about the physical sciences; I think it should cover everything the kilogram is used for, including commerce. Therefore I think a mention of the fact that "net weight" = mass is acceptable in this article. Honestly, I'd prefer that this article said as little as possible about weight, and left that to weight. You know that Gene Nygaard is tagging sections as disputed that I think simply aren't relevant and shouldn't be in the article. I use "to mass" as a verb, even when I'm talking about my own mass, because I am personally am very invested with linguistically clarifying the difference between mass and weight. However, I can't change the fact that packages of food say "net weight" when they mean "net mass," so I'd prefer to use language in this article that admits to that reality. Enuja (talk) 21:20, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Enuja. I absolutely agree with you: this article should be more than just the physical sciences. And I also agree with you when you wrote “I think it should cover everything the kilogram is used for, including commerce.”. That’s why the article already includes this:

In the physical sciences, the terms “mass” and “weight” are rigidly defined as separate measures in order to enforce clarity and precision. In everyday use, given that all masses on Earth have weight and this relationship is usually highly proportional,[16] “weight” often serves to describe both properties, its meaning being dependent upon context. For example, in commerce, the “net weight” of retail products actually refers to mass and is properly expressed in pounds (U.S.) or kilograms (see also Pound: Use in commerce). Conversely, the “load index” rating on automobile tires, which specifies the maximum structural load for a tire in kilograms, refers to weight; that is, the force due to gravity.

(emphasis added)
Accurately describing the usage of the term “weight” in trade and commerce makes perfect sense for this article. In that regard, it goes way beyond World Book’s treatment of the subject of “weight.” However, it would be entirely improper in this article to not adhere the proper, scientific usage of the term “weight.” It has a very specific meaning. As the NPL says: “Scientifically, however, it is normal to state that the weight of a body is the gravitational force acting on it.”
Let’s not be lead astray too far with bogus arguments. Excluding extreme examples of buoyancy (hot-air balloons, helium balloons, etc.) virtually all masses on Earth have weight. A bowling ball is massive. If you hold it in your hands, you struggle against its weight. One doesn’t have to suspend common sense and cite some damned article somewhere to know that when most people speak of the “weight” of something that has had its magnitude expressed in kilograms, (such as when they talk about how “heavy” a 40 kg sack of concrete is), they are really and truly talking about the weight of the kilogram. People in real life rarely struggle with the inertia of massive objects. Sure, players of American football are concerned about inertia (mass) when they collide and are less concerned about the “weight” of the opposing player. But in most circumstances in daily life for most people—like backpacking—when people have problems with objects with too great of a mass, the difficulty is with their struggle against gravity, that is, the object’s “weight”, not the object’s inertial property (mass). Thus, in most cases in every-day vernacular, the term “weight” is used by laypersons in the literal, proper, scientific sense since it describes the property of “heaviness.” Accordingly, the proper scientific definition of “weight”—as used in this article—accurately describes the term as most commonly used and understood. Greg L (my talk) 22:52, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
See WP:NOT: Wikipedia is not in the business of saying how words, idioms, etc. should be used. Gene Nygaard 14:59, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

<back to margin>
Enuja, you seem to be confused about the meaning of "factual dispute" in the context of a {{tl:disputed}} tag.

The terminology used to describe forces which include a buoyancy factor is a factual dispute. The terminology "replica" and my claim that it is wrongly applied to the sisters, not descendants, of the IPK is a factual dispute. The proper terminology used to describe anything can be a "factual dispute". The strange notion that a calculation should include gn (standard gravity), a metrological construct and not a physics construct, when it in fact should be the more general variable g (gravitational acceleration) is a factual dispute. The list may include some things that are other kinds of disputes as well, including the section that is both a factual dispute and an NPOV section. But by and large the issues here are indeed "factual disputes". Gene Nygaard 12:55, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

A warning to Greg L

Let me repeat here a warning I just posted on Greg's talk page:

A simple warning should suffice. Do not make false accusations of vandalism, as you did here — and do not remove dispute, dubious, fact tages and the properly added and documented on the talk page while the controversy continues. Gene Nygaard 01:52, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Total hogwash. You’ve received more than your fair share of “simple warnings”. What you did is pure and simple vandalism. And all because you weren’t getting your way. Doing what you did is never acceptable on Wikipeida. If you want to get an article shotgunned with a whole bunch of disputed tags, try get an administrator to do it for you; you’ll fail too. Enuja warned you about this when she wrote “I do not think this article warrants either "disputed" or "misleading" tags” and then you threw them all over the article. If you can’t learn to accept that your arguments aren't getting traction with other editors and instead pull that stunt again, you will not only get reverted, but you’ll be called to the mat over it. Your choice of a title for this discussion topic “A warning to Greg L” indicates to me that you are personalizing this issue too much. Maybe you need to take a break from Wikipedia for a while. I can see that your editing behavior is becoming unproductive and bothersome to other editors too. Greg L (my talk) 17:27, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Such warnings belong on Greg L's talk page, not on the article talk page. SWATJester Denny Crane. 20:12, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

GregL, Gene Nygaard is a legit editor of longtime standing that has a difference of opinion than you. He ain't vandalizing, but he is acting to restrain your edits a bit. Otherwise, this turns into GregL's Kilogram page. Oh, I just noticed User:Swatjester is here. I must be total schitz to be talking to myself again since Swat says it's "pretty obvious" that you and I are the same. (That's an admin who could use a little correction himself.) 207.190.198.130 23:26, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Gravity vs. gravitational field

Slashme, understood that “gravity” is a universal property. But isn’t “strength of gravity” 1) perfectly clear, and 2) both accurate and proper; to describe the principle without all that verbiage? NASA uses it here. I think the rather burdened “strength of the local gravitational field” sounds too much like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island. Simpler language sounds less pretentious. So I compromised here and in the two instances used “strength of local gravity.” Does that work for you? Thanks for all your well intentioned edits. I think they’ve improved the article. Greg L (my talk) 15:41, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

I guess that will do OK. I don't think Gilligan's Island was ever shown in South Africa, though, so I'll need a better example of a pompous wordy intellectual to properly follow your reasoning about simpler language sounding less pretentious. --Slashme 16:08, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
As painful as it is to watch, I understand and accept your reasoning (I think). I’ll noodle on some of them for a few days. Very good job so far; I appreciate the thought you’ve put into what edits to make and your reasoned and pithy edit summary explanations you’re leaving for me. Are you an administrator? You’re so young! Greg L (my talk) 18:07, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Glad to help. I'm particular about using edit summaries and trying to make them reliable, because it is very useful to later editors. I even go to the trouble of using {{subst:uw-editsummary}} on the pages of users who don't use them! As for my youth, the picture on my userpage is about a decade old by now ;-) And no, I'm not an admin. Last time I asked, I had only been with the project for a few months, and they told me to come back in 6 months, but I never got around to it (real life etc.). Most of the stuff I do doesn't need admin privileges anyway. --Slashme 06:48, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Spelling: National conventions

Slashme: I know you are from South Africa so it was likely force of habit when you used the “metre” spelling a couple of times. Since there wasn’t a previous post here on this discussion page covering this topic, I thought it time to put one here. Wikipedia’s official policy is that the spelling convention used by the first major contributors should be retained. The Kilogram article is—and has been—written throughout with American spelling (kilogram instead of kilogramme, meter instead of metre). Note the following passage, taken from Wikipedia:Manual of Style:

Note that “meter” is the proper American spelling. Note further that this article has been consistently using the American spelling for words like “kilogram,” “liter,” and “meter”. Please also take note of another common-sense policy from Wikipedia:Manual of Style:

Greg L (my talk) 18:26, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm aware of the policy; I'd just forgotten that you Americans don't make the distinction between a "meter" as in "gauge" and a "metre" as in "unit of length". Also, the Wikipedia article on "metre" is spelled "correctly" ;-), so when I saw the [[metre|meter]] I thought it was a simple mistake. --Slashme 06:55, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

NOTICE: "Disputed" and "Misleading" tags, #2

Continued from "Disputed" and "Misleading" tags, above.

After great debate that didn’t result in satisfaction to all parties, the necessity and appropriateness of having “Disputed” and “Misleading” tags here on the Kilogram article is being addressed at Wikipedia:Wikiquette alerts: Disruptive, bad-faith edits by Gene Nygaard on the charge that the tags amount to tedious editing. Greg L (my talk) 21:44, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Well, gee whiz, Greg L. How do you suppose disputed tags get put onto articles? It isn't appropriate to use them, unless there has been debate which did not result in satisfaction to all parties.
So, address the issues, please. Including issues of ownership of this article which haven't received more than passing mention so far. Did you have title insurance, so that someone else will come in and help argue on your behalf after defects have shown up? Gene Nygaard 12:54, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
Just a matter of passing curiosity, also. Have you given a quit-claim deed on your ownership claims here to User:Timb66?
I bet that even he will be totally befuddled by your characterization of an earlier version of this article as the "historical version (this one by Professor Bedding)".
  • Especially since that was Timb66's first edit ever to this Kilogram article
    • And it was an edit which did nothing more than changing one instance of an "and" to an "or"
    • And he was wrong in doing so.
Gene Nygaard 14:48, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Gene, your use of {{disputed}} and {{misleading}} tags after your protracted arguments got no traction with any other editors either here or over on Talk:Mass (here and here), and after Enuja told you the tags weren’t warranted, is a misuse of what they were intended for: a call for rational discussion. Instead, you’ve simply hijacked a valuable tool to use as a vehicle for unreasonably protracted arguing over points no one else agrees with and this simply amounts to nothing more than tendentious and disruptive editing. Trying to deal with all the crap you throw up onto the wall is a bit like trying to argue with the cigarette manufacturers during the 60s and 70s about how statistical analysis is clearly sufficient to prove harm. In an attempt to influence public and political sentiment, the manufacturers threw up red herring arguments that scientists must first discover the biochemical mechanism of harm to prove that cigarettes are harmful. You’ve already indicated that you put no credence whatsoever in Encyclopedia Britannica’s, and World Book’s, and Wikipedia’s definitions of “weight” vs. “mass”. I truly don’t think anyone can convince you of something you don’t want to believe. At some point, one must simply disengage and say “Sorry, we can’t keep on jumping through all you’re argument hoops and playing your games”; somehow debate with you simply must end. Greg L (my talk) 06:08, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

G vs G

That Wikipedia has "misleading" and "disputed" tags on a page about the kilogram is quite a pity, and we must work to get this sorted out as soon as possible. The answer is not to fight about whether the tag should be up there or not. Let's get to the bottom of the dispute and hammer out a consensus. I have been trawling through the history of the article and the talk page to try and figure out exactly what the issue is, and it's not that easy to figure out. Maybe Gene and Greg can each spell out what exactly they feel the other is getting wrong, and (I know this is difficult when you are frustrated) try and stick to the facts, and keep from flaming each other (Yes, you are both guilty: "Have you given a quit-claim deed on your ownership claims here to User:Timb66" and "Trying to deal with all the crap you throw up onto the wall is a bit like trying to argue with the cigarette manufacturers...") --Slashme 12:27, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

“Sorting it out”

  • Slashme, the problem is that it is impossible to argue rationally with Gene Nygaard to a proper conclusion if Gene sees the facts a different way. I’m not the only one. Check out this exchange two poor editors had to wage with his objections over on Talk:Mass. Gene Nygaard has been railing in every relevant article on Wikipedia as to how “weight” in the physical sciences isn’t really “force due to gravity.” Well, it is, and this issue is at the heart of much of his objections here. It’s impossibly tedious to argue his points on the face of them. I’ll take the two easiest ones (from Disputed, above) here:

5.2: His charge: “Whether or not buoyancy is accounted for in measurements of weight, in any meaning of the word, varies.”
Answer: His statement is incorrect at all levels to the point it is difficult to address. The sub-section isn’t about whether or not buoyancy is accounted for in measurements of weight, the subsection’s title is Buoyancy and “conventional mass” and is about how mass standards are compensated for the effect of buoyancy. Troemner’s FAQ sheet explains all this. Troemner is the company that made the NIST’s stainless steel check standards But in a nut shell, buoyancy is compensated for during the manufacture of mass standards and its effect is addressed in their use.
7: His charge: He rails against my use of “µGal” when referring to the use of an absolute, dropping-mass gravimeter and its accuracy.
Answer: It’s very simple. As Wikipedia’s own Gal (unit) article says, “The gal, sometimes called galileo, (symbol Gal) is a non-SI unit of acceleration used extensively in the science of gravimetry.” It is the unit used by all manufacturers of precision gravimeters. All gravimetry maps, whether produced by geologists in the field or NASA via its satellites, report gravitational variations in mGals and µGals. The manufacturer of the gravimeter used in national labs specifies the device’s accuracy as 2 µGal (which I mentioned in the article). The gal is the unit used by anyone who uses the devices, notably, the NIST in their work with the electronic kilogram. When one speaks of gravity gradients on Earth when precision gravimeters are being used in mass metrology research labs, the µGal is used. What does all this mean? According to Wikipedia policy Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Units of measurement, “In scientific articles, [editors should] use the units employed in the current scientific literature on that topic.”
A proper response to the rest of Gene Nygaard’s “issues” would be too tedious for my reply here to you. Further, a proper treatment of all his objections in any forum would be too tedious. No one should have to put up with so much of it in order to make well-researched edits to Wikipedia.
When you go through all the details of all of Gene Nygaard’s objections, one by one, as someone has to do, one comes to precisely the conclusion that Timb66 came to when he wrote at the bottom of Talk:Mass: “I don't understand this comment. Gene seems to be raising objections for the sake of it. This is not a difficult concept, why has it become so difficult? Please can we move on?” As I wrote above, at some point you just have to say “I’m not going to play your games anymore”. It’s time to move on and settle this some other way. And in fact, the issue of the tags is being handled with this Wikiquette alert. Wikipedia is a collaborative writing environment where common sense and civility simply must prevail. Gene Nygaard is currently blocked—and will be for another two days—for incivility. Being that I’m in the trenches here, I seem to be the poor bastard stuck with dealing with the details. Consequently, I’m faced with the realities of a total lack of common sense in this process. That’s not a “personal attack”, that’s simple reality. Gene’s behavior has a name; it’s called tendentious and disruptive editing and other editors shouldn’t have to put up with it anymore. Greg L (my talk) 16:38, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
So Gene's block should expire today, if I understand correctly. I notified him of this discussion on his talk page, and invited him to find people who agree with his point of view to come and explain here. I suggest we give it another day or so, and if no cogent reason to keep the tags is proffered, we remove them. --Slashme 05:22, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
P.S. Slashme, I understood what you were trying to communicate with your rewriting of my above response and separating them into “Heat” and “Light” sections as you did here (difference). Thank you (sorta). However, it wasn’t proper for you to rewrite what I wrote and sign my name to the “Heat” section and leave the “Light” section unsigned. Even though you may very well be the most level-headed editor involved in this issue, please don’t assume that you may take it upon yourself to decided how I may think and express my thoughts. I may eventually refer to the above in final arguments on the Wikiquette alert. You are perfectly at liberty to unambiguously express your thoughts in this forum. I have no problem if you quote the above in its entirely and paraphrase it as long as it is clear as to which author wrote what content. Greg L (my talk) 17:57, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Light

OK, let's start all over again. I know that you're frustrated with Gene, and I agree that I should have left your text here verbatim and unchanged. But let's try and keep the flames out of the discussion. Here is a good place to post simple rational arguments about the content that should be in the article, not his conduct. It's not an argument about who is a better person, it's about resolving the content issue. I invite you to keep the content issues physically separate on this page. I would personally cut and paste them, but that doesn't work.

Gene, if you see this post before Greg gets here, I invite you to specifically state your opinion as to what the content of the article should be, separate from any issues which may have arisen from Greg's actions. --Slashme 19:24, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Tags

I will try and go through the tags one by one here. Please, everybody, try not to say anything here which is not relevant to the issue. This includes the history of the dispute, what who said when, and what anyone said about anyone else in the past. For example, don't say "I put the tag here because G. wanted to say "x" and wouldn't stop reverting, and Y. said that G. is being disruptive, see his comment *here*." Say "The section says "x" and should say "y"" or "The section used to say "x" and should say "y" (which it now does), but not everyone agrees, for the following reasons: *1 *2"

Mass versus weight

Content tag

This section has a "content" tag which indicates that the relevance of the section is under dispute.

Discussion:

  • Remove tag: As far as I can tell, the section gives the necessary context for the reader to properly understand the issues surrounding proposed definitions discussed below it, so I suggest that this tag be removed. --Slashme 08:16, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Remove Per slashme, I'm don't see the need for a tag. --Bfigura (talk) 02:55, 1 November 2007 (UTC)


First of all, there is a huge difference between {{context}} and {{content}} templates. Go look at them first. Then come back here and avoid using those terms in any other way, in this particular section. Let's make sure everybody knows what we are talking about here, and start over from scratch with that goal in mind.
The tag used on the article was a content tag, not a context tag, and I don't see how my use of the word "context" above was confusing. --Slashme 05:47, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
The issue here is the scope of what is relevant to this particular article. The question is whether or not a whole lot of this belongs in the kilogram article or not, setting aside any questions about whether it is true or false or something like that. It is the issue raised many times above, for example: Enuja: "Everyone already knows that I don’t agree with the inclusion of extensive discussion of “mass v. weight” in this article, " Enuja has also raised her concerns about this explicitly at Talk:Weight#Should mass versus weight get its own article? There is serious disagreement as to the extent to which any such discussion should be here. It is an issue not yet resolved, but there seems to be general agreement--apart from Greg--that it doesn't belong in this article to the extent to which it is here now. How much it should be changed will likely result in a wide range of opinions. Gene Nygaard 12:28, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
If there can be dissent about whether the content of this section is true, it is clearly necessary to discuss the topic to some extent on this article, to give the proper context for the section about proposed alternative definitions of the kilogram. We can discuss the extent to which it should be treated without using dispute tags.--Slashme 05:47, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
After having carefully read the article on weight, I think that much of this section could usefully be merged there. The word "weight" is the crux of the whole confusion, so it is sensible to maintain a thorough treatment of the topic there, and not to duplicate much of it in this article. I still don't think a content tag is warranted, though. --Slashme 06:02, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

The unit of force: kilogram-force

TotallyDisputed tag

This section has a "TotallyDisputed-section" tag which indicates that the neutrality and accuracy of the section is under dispute.

Discussion:

  • Remove tag: I can't see what's wrong with it, please explain further. --Slashme 08:16, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Remove per discussion over at WQA. I don't think there's a mainstream issue here. --Bfigura (talk) 02:56, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Content tag

The section also has a "content" tag that questions the relevance of the section.

Discussion:

  • Remove tag: As above, in my opinion the section provides necessary context. --Slashme 08:16, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Remove again, probably useful for context. --Bfigura (talk) 02:56, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

Bringing this to a rational conclusion: Ruling to remove tags

  • The issue of Gene Nygaard’s {{disputed}} and {{misleading}} tags has been reviewed on Wikiquette alert:Bad faith edits by Gene Nygaard and mediated by Bfigura (talk). His conclusion (at Concluding this) is that the consensus is to remove the tags and the appropriate remedy is that one of the contributors here should remove them. I’ve removed them and will continue on with my editing—as I’ve done in the past—in a collaborative spirit. Bfigura further cautions User:Gene Nygaard that he should discontinue editing against the consensus. Greg L (my talk) 05:13, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Just a note: my views are hardly binding on anyone, but it does seem that there's a reasonable consensus here. Of course, I invite further review since consensus can change. --Bfigura (talk) 05:20, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

Well, so far we have a consensus of three, with the only dissenting vote presumably being Gene, who is still blocked until later today (72 hour block). I'm fascinated to see what his reasoning will be. --Slashme 05:27, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, didn't realize he was still on block. (And my consensus comment wasn't really directed at the poll (voting being evil and all), but at bulk of the comments on the page over the past week or so). That said though, I have no problems waiting for more input if you'd prefer. Best, --Bfigura (talk) 05:32, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
I think it's perfectly reasonable to remove the tags in the interim, but we must not close this discussion until he has had a reasonable chance to give his input. --Slashme 08:35, 1 November 2007 (UTC)


Hi, I'm back. I was blindsided with a little unexpected vacation, so that Greg L has had a little time for unfettered argument. Now we can get back into business. But I have other things to and won't at everything all at once. Furthermore, dealing with issues such as the scope of this article first might obviate the need to discuss other issues that don't really belong here anyway.
Bfigura, your role in this entire matter is hardly above reproach. You picked up the ball, said you were going to look into it. Then you dilly-dallyed a few days, doing nothing. You had never said boo about it either at here at talk:Kilogram nor at my talk page. Nor did you say anything substantive even at the alerts page. Then you pretty much fumbled the ball bowed out, saying you didn't have time to look into it.
Then you picked up the ball again , while you know I'm blocked, and made a couple of bland statements at Wikipedia:Wikiquette alerts not really in line with the purpose and goals there, and certainly not showing that disputes do not exist. So Greg L, taking advantage of the fact that he has gotten me out of the way for three days, jumps back here and proclaims that to have been a "decision", a "ruling", at WQA, creating this subsection for the purpose. Then he removes the dispute tags with the edit summary "Tags removed. See Talk: Ruling to remove tags" [linked to this subsection].
A "decision" or a "ruling" is not something even remotely within the scope of the purpose of Wikipedia:Wikiquette alerts. It would be entirely at cross-purposes with the goals of that process.
Bfigura, I'm asking you to undo Greg's removal of those tags. Play a role more in line with what you are supposed to do. You know that disputes exist here. Most of them haven't yet received any discussion here, and Greg L has only in the last two days come to the realization that he needs to address any of them, and there hasn't been adequate time for anybody to respond to the few comments he has made, and it was an impossibility me to do so as both you and Greg knew. If you can sit on your thumbs for over a week doing nothing about the complaints there, do you really think it is appropriate for precipitous actions such as this to be taken within minutes of your saying something at WQA? If you do not reinstate the tags here at least for the time being (to be removed on a case-by-case basis), your might as well put your tail between your legs and slink off into the distance. You will then have outlived you usefulness. You won't be able to serve any constructive role here; you might ask if someone would like to take over for you for this particular complaint at WQA.
Note: the "dubious" tag on one claim was already gone, that can stay out (subject to change if similar wording is reinstated). The flat-out misstatement of fact there was corrected by User:Timb66 and all that remain are the usual problems with vagueness or misleading in the wording.
Now, I've got other things to do, but I'll be back later (maybe tomorrow). Gene Nygaard 13:22, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Hi Gene. I'd appreciated it if you assumed more faith on my part. As far as dilly-dallyed a few days, doing nothing, I wasn't tremendously active here because of real life time constraints (the same ones that are going to force me to keep this short for now). Further, I'm not sure how comments such as put your tail between your legs and slink off into the distance are going to help achieve consensus. However, if you'd like outside opinions, you're more than free to seek them. But I'd appreciate if you kept your comments more civil. Things like the above and (this from the past) are not the best way to get to consensus. Best, --Bfigura (talk) 13:49, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
All I'm saying is that you tried picking up the ball, but muffed it. If you still think you can handle it, fine. I'd like to see you give it a shot. But if you aren't going to even try to straighten things out, then it would be best to admit that it has gotten to a point where you don't think you could be helpful anymore, and ask if someone else would like to take over. Gene Nygaard 17:40, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
I think there seems to have been a misunderstanding about my role here. I wasn't expecting (or intending) to serve as a mediator, rather as someone who'd toss in their opinion. (As you've pointed out elsewhere, WQA isn't really a formal dispute resolution process). If you do want a mediator-type person, then I'd really suggest someone else. (It's not that I'm unwilling to do it, but I'm leaving for a week-long conference this weekend, and I don't think I'll be consistently online in any useful sense). If you and greg want a mediator, perhaps a joint post at one of the mediation forums would be a good idea, since you'd both have to agree to the process for it to be helpful. (Or you could go for an RFC here). Either way though, this talk page is getting slightly unwieldy (in terms of being a giant wall of text), so it might be useful to keep discussion to one section. (I think this is the main thread at the moment, but I wasn't sure if there were residual points elsewhere that are unaddressed). Best, --Bfigura (talk) 22:49, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
PS, have you considered, or would you be open to, some form of structured resolution, such as mediation? (Which to my knowledge hasn't happened yet). Best, --Bfigura (talk) 13:54, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Hi Gene, I also have a hard deadline to attend to in 5 minutes, but when you get back online, could you please see the above list of tags, and give specific comments related to the material, and not related to any of the editors and administrators involved here, their prior actions etc. etc. as per my request - It's really hard for me to understand the situation when the discussion of the issues is hidden in the middle of a long-drawn-out flamewar. --Slashme 14:58, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Like you and Bfigura, I also have a life outside Wikipedia. Don't expect a mass posting addressing everything at once. Why don't you just start with the one I have addressed and deal with the content/context confusion and the like. Or post something that actually addresses the issues on some of the others. Gene Nygaard 17:42, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Addressing more issues

From Greg L: I very much look forward to addressing Gene’s issues (enumerated and explained in Disputed, above) in a structured environment. As I already did with two issues here (“Sorting it out, above), we’ll be able to address these issues once and for all and be on with life. So while, I’m here, I’ll address another one: the central issue that got Gene started on this: that “weight” in the physical sciences is “force due to gravity”. Gene wrote above in his enumeration as follows:

2 In Kilogram#Mass vs. weight
2.1 Issues have been raised above about the appropriateness to this entire section to the article, and have not been resolved
3 In Kilogram#The distinction between the two
3.1 Saying that mass is "quite distinct from the downwards gravitational force" is appropriate. Trying to push a point of view that the latter is God's ordained meaning of the ambiguous word weight is not.
3.2 We've actually had a number of astronauts on the moon. A citation from a reliable source indicating what the "weight" of any one of them actually was on the moon and on the Earth would change this from a hypothetical to a real example example. If none of them are available, then we can substute for that hypothetical a real-world example that is available: the weight of the various lunar modules at various times while they were on the moon.
3.3 The "in the physical sciences" language remains under active dispute; it is far too broad in scope.
  • Addressing 2.1: That’s a judgment call. For one thing, the kilogram is central to the whole issue of “mass vs. weight” since it is the SI base unit of mass. Many other editors have made edits to this section to improve on it, not delete it. Given that Gene’s major dispute is with the entire notion of asserting that weight equates to force due to gravity, I believe his view of the topic gives him a jaundiced view of any treatment of the subject and this unreasonably biases him against giving the subject the correct and proper treatment here.
  • Addressing 3.1 (“Trying to push a point of view that [‘downwards gravitational force’] is God's ordained meaning of the ambiguous word weight is not [appropriate]”): Encyclopedia Britannica very simply defines “weight” as “[the] gravitational force of attraction on an object, caused by the presence of a massive second object, such as the Earth or Moon.” Wikipedia’s Weight article defines weight as follows: In the physical sciences, weight is a measurement of the gravitational force acting on an object. World Book (print edition) says this under Weight: Weight is the gravitational force put forth on an object by the planet on which the object is located. Further, the Kilogram article adheres perfectly to Encyclopedia Britannica’s discussion of the distinction between “weight” and “mass”. The article also gives proper and fair treatment to the fact that the term “weight” in common vernacular can occasionally mean “mass.”

    When I told Gene of these facts above, he responded with “There's no reason for us to stoop to Encyclopedia Britannica.” He also said “Wikipedia is not a reliable source” and then linked “reliable source” to Wikipedia’s own Wikipedia:Reliable sources. He didn’t agree with either Wikipedia’s definition nor Encyclopedia Britannica’s. With regard to World Book, he responded only with “Now World Book too?” We should not feel like we have to change reality here on Wikipedia. It’s time to put this one to bed and move on.

    As for Gene’s “…God's ordained meaning…” line, that charge is without foundation. The article is abundantly clear that there is a difference between the strict, scientific distinction and the common usage. The article states as follows: “In everyday usage, the weight of objects is often given in kilograms. Strictly speaking though, the kilogram is a unit of mass; the “weight” of an object is its gravitational force and is measured in newtons…” The article also states as follows: “In the physical sciences, the terms “mass” and “weight” are rigidly defined as separate measures in order to enforce clarity and precision. In everyday use, given that all masses on Earth have weight and this relationship is usually highly proportional, “weight” often serves to describe both properties, its meaning being dependent upon context.” It is only the above-cited professional print encyclopedias, not this article, that suggest that there is only one, God-ordained meaning of the word “weight.”

  • Addressing 3.2: The meaning and ramification of “weight” on the Moon is exceedingly clear (Google search result here). Gene’s assertion that it is incorrect to write that an astronaut’s weight on the moon is less than it is on Earth, but it is OK to write that the lunar module’s weight is less on the Moon than on Earth is without foundation. If Gene found a reference stating Earth-equivalent weights of the LEM on the Moon’s surface, then the intent of the writer was clear and Gene cited the example of the LEM only in an effort to subvert the proper and unconfused treatment of the subject here. If this latter option is where Gene was trying to take us to, then he raised a red herring and isn’t being constructive.
  • Addressing 3.3: As for Gene’s “The ‘in the physical sciences’ language remains under active dispute; it is far too broad in scope”: Two, preeminent print encyclopedias simply state, without any equivocation, that “weight” is “force due to gravity”. This article goes beyond those treatments and directly addresses the reality that the term “weight” in common vernacular has different meanings in different contexts. For Gene to write that the “language remains under active dispute” is self-referential; he’s the one who disputes it. The meaning of “weight” in the physical sciences is is clear.

Greg L (my talk) 16:29, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

Second paragraph

In this edit more than five days ago, User:Timb66 corrected the second paragraph and removed, justifiably, the {{dubious}} tag that was there (something I'd have also indicated to have been appropriate above).


Then in this edit with minor changes in the two subsequent edits, Greg L removed Timb66's corrections and restored the Greg L version which warranted the "dubious" tag in the first place.

I put it back to Timb66's version, but Greg insists on edit-warring and has restored his "dubious" version. Gene Nygaard 17:29, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

Just my 2 cents:
  • When I say "I weigh 87 kg" I am abusing the word "weight" to mean that my mass is 87 kg. I'm not abusing the word "kilogram" to mean that the Earth pulls me down with 0.85 kN. I am not willing to look at each revision of that intro paragraph (with my 56K connection it'd take me more time than it'd be worth), but the revision of 27 October ("In everyday usage, the mass of an object in kilograms is often referred to as its weight, although strictly speaking the weight of an object is the gravitational force on it, measured in newtons (see also kilogram-force).") seems quite correct to me.
  • Most of the section "Mass versus weight" doesn't belong to an article about an unit of measurement. If it did, it would belong to the article about the pound, and so on. The mention of the kilogram-force is relevant, but I'd prefer all the rest to go to the Weight article, if anywhere. --Army1987 21:56, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. That's three of us now, and counting. But you aren't "abusing" anything, that is a common, legitimate and meaning of the word. You have correctly identified the problem word, as Timb66 did, something which Greg L still refuses to accept and continues to edit-war about. Gene Nygaard 22:02, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

From Greg L: Our conventional understandings and observations of the common-vernacular use of the term “weight” are perfectly consistent with scienece and this article. One doesn’t have to suspend common sense to know that when most people speak of the “weight” of something that has had its magnitude expressed in kilograms, (such as when they talk about how “heavy” a 40 kg sack of concrete is), they are really and truly talking about the weight of the kilogram. People in real life rarely struggle with the inertia of massive objects. Sure, players of American football are concerned about inertia (mass) when they collide and are less concerned about the “weight” of the opposing player. But in most circumstances in daily life for most people—like backpacking—when people have problems with objects with too great of a mass, the difficulty is with their struggle against gravity; that is, the object’s “weight”, not the object’s inertial property (mass). Thus, in most cases in every-day vernacular, the term “weight” is used by laypersons in the literal, proper, scientific sense since it describes the property of “heaviness.” Accordingly, the proper scientific definition of “weight”—as used in this article—accurately describes the term as most commonly used and understood and as you all have described above.

Both the scientific distinction of mass and weight and the common-vernacular acceptance of the term are addressed in NIST Handbook 130, which states:

V. "Mass" and "Weight." [NOTE 1, See page 6]
The mass of an object is a measure of the object’s inertial property, or the amount of matter it contains. The weight of an object is a measure of the force exerted on the object by gravity, or the force needed to support it. The pull of gravity on the earth gives an object a downward acceleration of about 9.8 m/s2. In trade and commerce and everyday use, the term "weight" is often used as a synonym for "mass." The "net mass" or "net weight" declared on a label indicates that the package contains a specific amount of commodity exclusive of wrapping materials. The use of the term "mass" is predominant throughout the world, and is becoming increasingly common in the United States. (Added 1993)
W. Use of the Terms "Mass" and "Weight." [NOTE 1, See page 6]
When used in this handbook, the term "weight" means "mass." The term "weight" appears when inch-pound units are cited, or when both inch-pound and SI units are included in a requirement. The terms "mass" or "masses" are used when only SI units are cited in a requirement. The following note appears where the term "weight" is first used in a law or regulation.
NOTE 1: When used in this law (or regulation), the term "weight" means "mass." (See paragraph V. and W. in Section I., Introduction, of NIST Handbook 130 for an explanation of these terms.) (Added 1993) 6"

It’s really quite simple: Trade and commerce legally allows the measure of mass (which is expressed in kilograms or pounds) to be called “weight”. Further, when non-scientists speak of a particular quantity that has had its measure expressed in kilograms, they refer to that quantity’s “weight,” and rightly so too: because it’s heavy. This is all perfectly consistent with the concept that “weight” is “force due to gravity.” This is not complex; spurious arguments shouldn’t lead anyone down blind logical alleys. Greg L (my talk) 22:20, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

When I go buy one kg of bread, I care about how much bread I get, not about how strongly the Earth pulls it down. --Army1987 22:50, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
That’s right Army1987! That’s why in trade and commerce, “Net weight” legally refers to mass and is expressed in kilograms. Greg L (my talk) 23:04, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
It isn't a matter of "allowing"; we've been using the word that way for over 1000 years, and nobody was ever given a license to take it away from us.
But even the source you cite supports the three of us, not you. Those billions and billions of labels out there, throughout the world, giving the weight of food and cosmetics and cement and wheel-bearing grease and whatever in grams and kilograms are correct. Gene Nygaard 22:33, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Not a stitch of what you wrote is inconsistent with what I wrote above. Weight is “force due to gravity”; both in science and in the way everyone commonly understands it. The only confusion is that in trade and commerce—so that retailers don’t have to use stilted language like “Net Mass”—the U.S. Dept. of Commerce requires that “Net weight” actually referrs to mass, which is measured in kilograms. This is not complex. Greg L (my talk) 22:37, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Also from Greg L: What is being disputed is the following language at the start of the second paragraph:
This argument is over two sentences, both of which are scientifically, absolutely true unless you want to go against the print encyclopedias (see “Addressing 3.1” in Addressing more issues, above), the NIST, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, and common sense. Greg L (my talk) 22:58, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Except that, if one says that the weight of a cheese is one kilogram, he's more likely to refer to the quantity of matter it contains that to the magnitude of the gravitational force vector applied to it. We are saying "Often people talk about the weight of something in kilograms, but weight should be measured in newtons or kilograms-force", whereas it'd be more reasonable to say "Often people talk about the weight of something in kilograms, referring to (roughly speaking) the quantity of matter it contains, but that should be called mass". Now, once upon a time that sentence read:
Was anything incorrect in it? Maybe it should be "...of an object (roughly speaking, the quantity of matter it contains), measured in kilograms, is often... ...on it, which in the SI is measured in newtons, but occasionally is measured in kilogram-force. But please don't say that, when somebody says she weighs 51 kg, she means that the norm of the gravitational force vector on her is 0.5 kN. --Army1987 00:52, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
  • From Greg L: Good observations and argument Army1987. It’s quite a welcome relief to get away from disputes over whether or not “weight” scientifically means “gravitational force”, and get onto the issue of how best to provide a proper, encyclopedic treatment of the distinction between mass and weight. If this sentence is somehow a deal breaker, please explain; I don’t have strong feelings about it.

    I don’t think the original wording (“In everyday usage, the mass of an object in kilograms is often referred to as its weight”) can fairly be called flat “incorrect” but I find it somewhat misleading because of a subtlety. The difference is the current text (as I’ve revised it) only says a pure fact: “weight is often given in kilograms”. It doesn’t suggest what people “mean” or are referring to when they speak of the general property. I believe the old wording carries the connotation—an incorrect one IMO—that people actually think of the property as “mass” but incorrectly call it “weight”. I think it is quite clear based on common sense observation of the world around us that most people perceive the property of “how much” really and truly in terms of “weight”. We pick up a bag of potatoes to feel how heavy it is. We grunt a little and say it feels like so many kilograms. This everyday sense of the nature of the property has long been called “weight” in the English-speaking world and this lead to the precise scientific definition of “weight” to be “force due to gravity”. “Mass” and “inertia” are much so more obscure properties, that they seem overly scientific to the average layperson. That’s why the U.S. Government allows “Net Mass” to be called “Net Weight.” So simply saying “weight is often given in kilograms” seemed less loaded of a statement to me and absent any implication of what people mean. Further, I thought the word “weight” in that sentence was all-encompasing because it means either/or/both “weight,” as people commonly think of it, and “weight” as used in commerce.

    For these reasons, I prefer the current, less loaded wording. Do you agree? Greg L (my talk) 03:34, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Well...
Some are good points. Often people talk about the "weight" meaning the property which tells how hard they are to pick up, that is, its scientific meaning. They might even happen to measure it in kilograms. And you say that inertia is an obscure property. But, if we are discussing of the everyday usage of "weight", formal definitions are not entirely relevant. Indeed, try to formally (mathematically) define both "force" and "mass" without creating a circular definition: if you do manage to do that, you'll get something really obscure for either of them.
So we might consider one of them "fundamental" and define the other in terms of that one.
Now, for thousands of years, we have needed a measure of "how much stuff" one was buying, or something. They used balances, which essentially means that the property they measured was passive gravitational mass. Unknown to them, they did a good choice, as mass (whichever one, now we know that they are the same) is a property which (in non-relativistic contexts) is additive and always conserved, so it is a good measure of "the quantity of matter a body contains". Yes, maybe that's a somewhat vague definition. Now for that reason we define the mass in terms of inertia, which essentially means we fix the k in F = k m a to one. We could have defined it in terms of gravitation (by fixing G), or neither (like electric charge, which is defined as, er... in the SI it happens to be defined in terms of currents and time, which sounds quite backwards to me). But the fact is, the mass is an intrinsic property of something, unlike the weight force. It would not make much sense to write in the technical data of a car that the Earth pulls it down with with 9 kN, or on a pack of corn flakes that the Earth pulls them down (totally) with 5 N, as that is not a property of the car or the corn flakes. Or that one's overweight because the gravitational force on them is too strong... Now, often people do talk about how hard is something to pick up, but, since these concepts are proportional [1] (within the precision they'll probably ever measure them), and maybe they're not completely aware of the distinction between the two, they'll use the same units they use to say how much stuff something contains.
As it currently stands, the wording of that sentence suggests that, if one says that her weight is 60 kg, she's improperly using kilograms to measure a force, whereas my understanding is that she's improperly using the word "force" to mean mass (quantity of matter).
[1] Well, to be pedantic, the magnitude of one is proportional to the other, since the weight force on a 70 kg person in China is almost perpendicular to that on a 70 kg person in Italy... --Army1987 09:53, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
  • From Greg L: Very well. You make a good point. Timb66 put it in and he’s a professor of astrophysics. You like that wording. I understand and accept your reasoning. I’ve already changed the text back. As regards your challenge of defining mass and force without a circular definition, allow me:
• Mass is the property of matter whereby the magnitude of a unit of mass has an equivalent energy equal to that of photons whose frequencies sum to a non-zero, positive value.
• Force is an action or agency that causes a body of mass to accelerate.
How’d I do?  :-) Greg L (my talk) 18:56, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
You did get something obscure for one of the two, as I had foretold. :-) Army1987 19:59, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
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