What’s heavier, a kilogram of steel or a kilogram of feathers?

I didn’t watch the video, but are they under equal acceleration?

Also, regarding the “pound of gold,” there’s a lot of confusion between lb and pd. An inch or ounce is 1/12 of a larger unit. 1 libra or lb has 12 unciae. 1 pound or pd is about 1/3 heavier, so it has 16 ounces.


I once won an Academic League match by being first on the buzzer with the correct answer to “how much dirt is there in a rectangular hole nine feet deep, six feet long, and three feet wide?”


Silly, you don’t bury survivors. You cremate them.

The survivors.


Reminds me of this bit from Father Ted:


They need to include a banana for scale.

This guy also requests his pizza be cut in six slices instead of eight, because there’s no way he can eat eight slices of pizza.


This is a double trick question: The first trick is the usual ‘lol you confused density and weight, neither is heavier!’ bit.

The second trick, though, is that they asked about weight; but specified mass. Since the weight of an object depends on its location with respect to the gravity well of interest, you can’t actually answer the question without knowing the shape and location of the steel and the feathers; but if you assume ‘lump of steel, bag of feathers, both on otherwise identical scales in the same place on earth’s surface’, the steel should be just slightly heavier. The steel’s center of mass with be slightly closer to the earth’s, since it is a much smaller object, while the feathers’ center of mass will be slightly further away, because it is substantially bulkier.

You’d need a pretty classy scale to notice the difference, though.


You also need to know which one is closer to the equator, because the one which is closer will weigh less due to the higher rotational speed. But you need a really, really classy scale to notice that difference.


There is a (brutally ugly) retcon for that: According to the (um, legendarily reliable) expanded universe, the ‘Kessel run’ is considered tricky because of the black holes in the area. The shortest path involves finding yourself on the wrong side of an event horizon(travelling through hyperspace, ain’t like dusting crops, boy), so ships and pilots are judged by how much of a detour they have to take in order to avoid this unpleasant outcome. Solo’s route is supposedly one of the most aggressive that anyone has actually survived.

I did say it was brutally ugly.


Indeed. Esoteric concerns about deviations between the geoid and the reference ellipsoid at the time and place of measurement probably need to be invoked as well; though I suspect that all of this is the sort of thing we consign to ‘negligible’ so we can get through the day.


I actually really like this retcon explanation and will always bring it up when someone pulls the old ‘parsec is distance’ argument.
It’s also not particularly ugly in my opinion as you could describe say a trip from NY to LA by the number of miles traveled /or/ the number of days/hours traveled and be equally correct. So if you were to say you traveled to LA from NY by way of Miami, while I traveled by way of Chicago, I made the trip ‘faster’ and could say I made the trip in ‘less than 3k miles’ while your own trip was ‘over 4k miles’.
Now anyone paying attention could catch me out and argue that traveling the shorter distance didn’t really make my method of transportation faster, but if I’m just trying to brag a bit to a perspective passenger its a reasonable brag to make.


This is a different principle (gravity acting on individual elements of mass rather than on aggregate mass) but I was reminded of it by the steel/feather business.

Hashtag #nerds hashtag #science.

(* Although maybe something lighter like titanium in this case?)


I always liked it, too. I couldn’t think of a better way to make Lucas’ braindead line make any sense, and at the very least I appreciated the effort to fix it.

“It’s the ship that drove from Paris to L.A. in less than 5,600 miles.”


I agree that it’s about as good a retcon as one could hope for; given the corner they’d been painted into; it just seems like a deeply awkward one in context:

If you are trying to impress some yokel whose hyperspatial navigation skills you openly disdain; a boast about speed that relies on the other party being familiar with the hazardous interstellar phenomena of a particular smuggling route; and being familiar with how a ship’s hyperspace capabilities constrain its performance in nontrivial gravity wells seems like a very, very, odd choice.

As a solution to the ‘measure of distance, not time!’ problem, I certainly can’t think of a better solution; but as a ‘social pragmatics of Han Solo’ problem, it falls a bit flat. Despite the boast only making sense in the context of some fairly specific knowledge of interstellar navigation and criminal activity; Han delivers it completely straight; and Luke expresses no indication either of puzzlement or of understanding.

That said, this sort of conveniently-chosen-level-of-common-knowledge seems to crop up from time to time in Star Wars: the galaxy is simultaneously large enough that you can always find an entire solar system to hide something in(Echo Base, Second Death Star construction site); but nobody ever betrays the slightest confusion or unfamiliarity about locations, despite the galaxy being a huge place, apparently with poor documentation (“My lord, there are so many uncharted settlements; it could be smugglers…it”), where place names are terse and nondescript. Grand Moff Tarkin knows immediately(despite the site presumably having been out of the way enough for the rebel base located there to be used and abandoned without contact with the empire) that ‘Dantoine’ is plausible but out in the sticks somewhere; “You must go to the Dagobah System” apparently narrows a search down to a few hectares at most, on a single planet.


I got the impression that it’s Han’s proudest smuggling accomplishment, which he’d commonly use to land smuggling gigs, since the Kessel Run was a popular enough smuggling activity to have a name, at least among other smugglers. His first thought is that Luke and Ben sought him out through some underworld contact, and his ego is such that he fancies himself a bit more of a household name in those circles than he actually is. “Fast ship? You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?” And so when his Kessel Run boast fails to impress, he resorts to “I’ve outrun Imperial cruisers.” He’s not quite contemptuous of Luke at first, since his first sentence or two is just to feel out his potential new clients.

That bit obviously relies heavily on a heapin’ helpin’ hand from The Force. But I still wonder if Luke’s crash was caused by bad weather coupled with equipment failure, or some kind of passive protection zone put up by Yoda. Doesn’t really matter in the end, I guess.

  1. Han Solo isn’t Indiana Jones. He doesn’t ever have the same social skills.

  2. Jabba set up on Tatooine because it’s on the smuggling route.

  3. There’s nothing to suggest Obi-Wan knows what Han’s talking about.

Childhood = ruined. :crying_cat_face:


pat-pat Here, have definitive proof:



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That’s one of my favorite King short stories.