Talk:Weighing scale

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Scale Image[edit]

I made a change to the caption to the right of the fulcrum, no matter what gravity was (ignoring the mass of whatever you're balancing them on). Therefore anything using levers is properly termed a balance. Any device using a spring is based upon force which is dependent on gravity and therefore a scale. Most bathroom scales use springs however the type in the image at the beginning of this article uses a lever/counterbalance method. Shouldn't the caption call it a balance instead of the inaccurate scale? Can someone with some physics knowledge back me up or refute me please. Vicarious 20:54, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

No. Scales is a broader term; it includes balances. I've run into other pepole with the same misconception before, but there is no real basis for it. Just consider, for example, any depiction you have ever seen of the Scales of Justice. (When the adjective is included in a "spring" scale, rather than just "scale" standing alone, that is generally considered to be someting different from a balance. However, just to confuse things even more, some people also call spring scales balances.) Gene Nygaard 01:27, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

"usually just "scale" in common usage"[edit]

I'm under the impression that we British would be more likely to talk about "scales" than "a scale" but I have no objective evidence to back that up whatsoever. Does anybody have a source for the article's current suggested common usage? — 11:42, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm under the same impression for Irish. Maybe scale is just American? (talk) 14:28, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

It actually depends on the area of application. In the laboratory it is generally referred to as a "balance". Outside of the laboratory - food, industry, retail, it is typically a "Scale" or "Scales" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:36, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Two main types of scales -- should this article be reworked?[edit]

The two main types of scales are the balance scale and spring scale. In classical physics, a balance scale can only directly measure mass (from which weight can be interpolated based on g -- the gravitational constant), wherease a spring scale can only directly measure weight (from which mass can be interpolated when g is known). In physics, weight and force are actually the same thing and the formula for relating weight to mass is F = mg.

Therefore symantically a balance scale cannot be called a weighing scale, as far as rigid physics definitions are concerned. That said, mass and weight are interchangeable in common usage. In fact, the word "weighing" is defined in dictionaries as balancing weights! How confusing.

So I recommend you change "is a device for measuring the weight of an object" to "is a device for measuring either the weight or mass of an object, depending on the design." Then you can (you pretty well already do) introduce the two topics of balance scale and spring scale by stating what they directly mesaure and what can be interpolated from the measurement.

On the topic of whether "scale" should be plural or singular, one has to look at the root meaning of scale, which is "dish" or "bowl". The classic weighing scale is the two dishes and the balanced lever, hence the word "scales" was used to define the whole apparatus. Again, symantically, if a modified design (eg., a spring scale or a balance scale with sliding weights at one end of the lever)has only one dish, then it should be called a singular "scale". But, the word "scale" has taken on a new meaning, referring to any complete weighing apparatus, and "scales" thus has equal meaning, the difference being local preferred usage. Yes, I would agree that "scales" is the common British usage and "scale" is common in Canada (where I live) and the USA. I do not know about other English speaking countries but we can assume they mostly use "scales".

--Jstreutker 22:39, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Balances measure weight too[edit]

A point was made on the science help desk that balances, used in an atmosphere, do not really measure mass, because of the buoyancy that the Achimedes effect introduces in objects of different volume. As an extreme example, imagine a helium ballon that is just-just "in balance" in room air - meaning that its tendency to drop because of gravity is exactly balanced by its tendency to rise because it is less dense than air. If placed on a beam balance, the balance would show no weight on the basin. In space the mass would be more than the buoyancy, and the maas would be "revealed". The article should be changed accordingly, but unfortunately a large number of textbooks carry this error. --Seejyb 22:43, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

I posted something about this at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Physics#Weight, mass and weighing scales. Not all physicists appear to agree the present articles are in error. --LambiamTalk 06:43, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Long story short: As long as what you're weighing is much denser than air, you can compare to a referece mass to get true mass. Buoyancy throws off measurements of weight as well as mass (a floating boat has neutral buoyancy but nonzero weight), so I don't see how changing it to "weight" would be any more accurate. Put in a caveat about buoyancy if you like. --Christopher Thomas 07:19, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Right, I don't know why the short story became so long. Of course there should be sich a caveat. My question at WikiProject Physics was not: "Do you agree this is wrong?", but "Do you have suggestions for an elegant way of fixing this?", given that the subject matter is confusing to people who are not trained in physics concepts and the corresponding way of thinking, and spread out over several articles. --LambiamTalk 18:12, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Seems to be too much repetition about the distinction between weight and mass. Glueball 18:29, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Pan balance[edit]

Pan balance links to this article but is not covered. Pgr94 10:37, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Bathroom scale[edit]

I was looking for information on the typical bathroom scale, like what type of scale it is, how it works, etc, but couldn't find anything like that in this article. --jwandersTalk 06:29, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

go to and go to the the blank box that is under search and search balance and click the first topic one and go to it that is why im giong to research for balance scales for i can read and do the rest of research. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:06, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Please create a page for the topic of Analytical balance with the following reasons....[edit]

The following original edition should be presented with reliable references

-- (talk) 01:14, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

The topic has been researched for a long time

-- (talk) 01:17, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

-- (talk) 01:58, 12 April 2010 (UTC)


"By the 1940s various electronic devices were being attached to these designs to make readings more accurate. These were not true digital scales as the actual measuring of weight still relied on springs and balances.[17][18] "

... is confused. What makes scales digital is the use of digital electronics, which is a different matter to whether springs or other mechanics are used in or before the sensor. (talk) 01:50, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Actually, some modern scales use a technology called "force restoration" - it uses power applied to an electromagnet to maintain the weighing platform at a certain height. Power needed is proportional to mass, if I understand it correctly. No springs or other mechanics at all - it's purely electronic. (talk) 15:04, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Center beam balance is most accurate???[edit]

Article says: "For high precision work, the center beam balance is still one of the most accurate technologies available[citation needed], and is commonly used for calibrating test weights."

I have to call shenanigans here. A good digital balance can be accurate to 5 significant decimal places - can you do that with a center beam balance? And mass comparators, not beam balances, are usually used for calibrating test weights.

Can someone else confirm, and then remove this misleading quote from the article? (talk) 15:02, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

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