Solve it Sunday: Gold Standard

This question may seem laughable at first glance. I assure you, however, that I have no intention of making sport with you. Simplicity does not always indicate triviality.

Which is heavier – a 1-ton block of wood, or a 1-ton block of gold?

You may assume that both blocks are being weighed on the same weighing apparatus in the same terrestrial location, and that the machine is giving an identical value in both cases.

Good luck with this one! It’s not as simple as you might think it is.
As always, answers in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Solve it Sunday: Gold Standard


    Solid objects displace not only liquids according to their volume, but also gases. From Archimedes’ principle, it can be seen that within the atmosphere of our planet, the reported weight of an object on a scale will be lighter than its true mass would suggest. Specifically, the object will subtract the weight of the air it displaces from its apparent weight. Gold is significantly denser than any wood, and therefore displaces less air, reducing its true weight by less. In a vacuum chamber, the truth would be revealed. The “ton” of wood weighs more than the “ton” of gold.


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