I have often made a suggest that a pound of feathers weighs more than a pound of gold, and that an oz of feather weighs less than an ounce of gold. This is since A troy pound is same to 0.822 857 1 avoirdupois pounds. Feathers space weighed in avoirdupois pounds and gold is measured with troy as soon as using medieval units. The trojan pound is split into 12 ounces and the avoirdupois pound is divided into 16 ounces.

You are watching: Weight of a grain of salt

At one time i made the incorrect presumption that since the troy pound is identified as 5760 grains and the avoirdupois pound is 7000 the the value of a trojan grain and also avoirdupois grain to be different. To mine surprise, the usual weight definition for pounds in Ye Olde English is the grain. The very same grain is provided to specify the 5760 seed of a troy pound and also the 7000 grains of one avoirdupois pound.

Recently i was watching an illustration of the 1960’s mini-series The Prisoner. A discussion took place concerning how lot of a drug had been offered to the key character and also what should be done once the effects were not as predicted:

Number 86: “I gave him eight seed of mitol. Suspicion, doubt, this are determinants of aggression. The drug have to preclude every such reactions.”

Number 2: “….go come him now repeat the dose.”

Number 86: “Now? but sixteen seed of mitol is quite impossible.”


The values room all in grains. What win me together I thought about this exchange is the concern that some literary Lilliputians have actually that our clichés will endure at the hand of a metric switch-over. The one phrase I don’t remind being discussed in this context is: “you much better take that through a serial of salt.” It way that one need to view a statement through some skepticism. The beginning of the expression is a little apocryphal and is perhaps from a Latin phrase. Ns realized that I had actually never understood the expression “properly” until I observed that old episode of The Prisoner. The development of the microscope about 1610 or for this reason soon allowed humans come look at individual “grains” that salt. This grains vary, but a reasonable calculation is about 60 micrograms per salt crystal “grain.” I constantly took the meaning of acquisition something through a grain of salt as including in one infinitesimal quantity of salt to make it much more palatable. Once I believed of the expression I thought of the microscope salt crystals the NaCl and not the around 1000 of castle that consist of the Ye Olde English unit referred to as the grain. When I think the a grain of sand i don’t think the 64.798 91 milligrams of sand, ns think that a solitary particle the sand, i beg your pardon is ~ above the bespeak of 15 milligrams.

The grain as a unit is therefore unfamiliar come Americans as to be intellectually invisible. One needs to remind world that some aspirin in the united state are additionally labeled in grains, and also if one inquiry how plenty of grains are in an oz they would not realize that it is 473.5 grains for an avoirdupois ounce and also 480 in a troy ounce. The grain is together devoid of meaning for the average human being as is a coomb.

The grain was identified in 1572 long before our modern notion the mass to be developed. The lb was not uniquely defined as a massive or a force, and because that its pre-scientific legacy it continues to act together a barrier to a scientific expertise of our human being by the mean person, and often education engineers and also scientists. When we stand on a toilet scale and read turn off the value in pounds, the is regularly assumed to be a mass. However the word pound is offered interchangeably for load or the pressure gravity exerted on the massive of the object. We in the us still speak pounds per square customs when discussing pressure, i beg your pardon in regards to mass does no seem come make any sense. An item with mass is a 3 dimensional object and also not a two dimensional area. Using the the same name pound for pound-mass and pound-force catch citizens in the US into a middle ages view the the world. It additionally traps engineers and also scientists.

Recently ns was the town hall an episode of the extremely enjoyable routine Impossible Engineering. It faced the design of the World’s greatest Cruise Ship. In the regimen Physicist Dr. Andrew Steele sets out to show the amount of traction or opposing force that different hull shapes of watercrafts produce, as very first mathematically to express by engineer wilhelm Froude (1810-1879) in the 19th century. Dr. Steele fastened a spring range using rope to every example and also then defined the lot of force (hydrodynamic drag) they each exert. The worth is read from the range in Kilograms (mass) and not in newtons (force). Dr. Steele is British, which produces a type of double irony. When a human is conditioned to view pounds as both mass and force, the is a quick step for an average person, or a PhD, to substitute Kilograms for newtons and blur the modern distinction. The retention of middle ages units brings along their pre-scientific baggage in a human being where the public knowledge of scientific research is of gift importance.

When friend see scientific explanations on well-known television programs, remember to take it them with a grain of salt.

If you favored this essay and also wish to support the occupational of The Metric Maven, you re welcome visit his Patreon Page


The Metric Maven has published a brand-new book titled The dimensions of The Cosmos. It examines the straightforward quantities of the world from yocto come Yotta with a mixture of clinical anecdotes and may be purchased here.

See more: At Room Temperature Most Elements Are, Period Table Organization

This entry was posted in Metric History, Metric System, Unit Proliferation by Randy Bancroft. Bookmark the permalink.

The Maven writes:“The grain as a unit is for this reason unfamiliar to Americans as to be intellectually invisible.”

Good point, however perhaps the Maven need to witness some Grand Jury presentaions through prosecutors, who use “grains” for weight ad nauseam! (Such to be so sickening to me when I offered that I want to to walk out but I had actually to be affected by each other it throughout the presentaions sans speak anything or rather I could have a charge against me because that insubordination!)

Anyone else here have a grain-while-on-jury experience?? (Also, my guess is that numerous jurors hear “grain” together “gram” as, together the Maven shows well, the previous is so unfamiliar to the typical person.)