Sunday, 30 January 2011
Which is heavier?
Can you correctly assess the weight difference between objects of different sizes?
Hold the two metal balls in your hands to determine which one feels heavier.
The balls you were holding are exactly the same weigh, but the smaller one feels heavier.
Our assumption is in conflict with reality; the smaller of two objects that actually weigh the same feels heavier. Everyday experience tells us that larger objects will be heavier and, therefore, we expect to need more muscle strength to lift those objects. This is what is known as a cognitive illusion.
Imagine that you work in an airport and are lifting suitcases onto a conveyor belt. What would it feel like if the largest suitcase were empty? What if the smallest and most delicate suitcase contained lead? Unusually heavy luggage is marked in order to avoid unfortunate surprises and accidents.