# Muscle, fat, density, weight, mass...oh my!

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• Posts: 6,171 Member
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Anyone else read the OP in Sheldon's voice? No? Just me then.

• Posts: 4
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I also find it amazing that technical and scientific literacy is SO appallingly and unapologetically low given the comments to your post.
I have the same irks regarding the confusion between mass, weight, and density. Anyone who has graduated from High School...let alone went to college or university should know that mass and weight are not the same.

Let me clarify:
Mass is a measure of how much matter is present.
Volume is how much space is occupied by that mass.
Density is mass/volume.

Weight is a measure of force exerted on a mass-- remember Newton's law? F = ma,

On the surface of the Earth, a mass of 1 kg weights 9.8 Newtons. By convention, we record this as a weight.

If you were to stand on a scale in an elevator, your weight will increase as you are accelerated up and your weight will decrease as you accelerate down. When you are at constant velocity up or down, your weight remains the same (unless you take general relativity and the fact the gravitational force decreases as you move farther from the center of the earth into account.)
Jump up and down on your bathroom scale, and you'll record a bigger weight since you are exerting a bigger force on the scale.

Simple elementary school physics, folks!
Don't get me started on simple misunderstandings people have with quantum mechanics or with thermodynamics.
• Posts: 12,942 Member
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Meh, most people (I would think) understand all three statements you are "clarifying". Too me the OP doesn't really clear anything up that isn't common sense.
Thank you. I was thinking this exact same thing.

OP, you are making assumptions that people don't get what is being said. Besides, this topic has been addressed numerous times in numerous ways.
• Posts: 2,067 Member
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Don't get me started on simple misunderstandings people have with quantum mechanics or with thermodynamics.
im actually curious about these. please elaborate. i dont know anyone who has any misconceptions about quantum mechanics, mostly because the only people who actually know ANYTHING about the subject have studied it at a university level
• Posts: 10,330 Member
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Meh, most people (I would think) understand all three statements you are "clarifying". Too me the OP doesn't really clear anything up that isn't common sense.
Thank you. I was thinking this exact same thing.

OP, you are making assumptions that people don't get what is being said. Besides, this topic has been addressed numerous times in numerous ways.

Nah, he's just bored and being a "trust me, I'm an engineer" kind of troll.
• Posts: 900 Member
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Hey, you put it out there, and some people will find it interesting and informative. I think most of us do know what is meant in casual conversation, and most of us overlook little errors in exactitude most of the time (and then go and ***** about it somewhere else).

I look at it this way: if you speak or write in a completely precise way all of the time, someone is going to say that you're pedantic or pretentious, and if you do not, then someone is going to say that you're wrong. So, pretty much damned if you do and damned if you don't. And yet we somehow muddle along understanding enough of each others' thoughts to live in communal societies. So language is more or less doing its job.

Good post. Mostly agree. I'm not to sure "most" people do have an understanding of some basic things though. I hope I'm wrong.
• Posts: 900 Member
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What confuses people is when it comes to weight loss. Losing a pound of either doesn't matter- you are still losing a pound. And fat loss (or reduction to be more correct- because the fat cells just shrink) occurs much more rapidly than muscle growth. So it is certainly false to assume that while at a calorie deficit, working out and cardio that you lose a pound of fat but gain a pound of muscle so you break even is a fallacy. Muscle growth is much slower than fat loss (depending on your age, fitness level etc. I know all of the factors) and is very difficult at a calorie deficit. So, the two happening simultaneously is not likely.

But I'm with you, I hate the BS arguments when folks don't understand the concepts of Volume, Mass, Density etc. and then try to argue based off of an incomplete understanding of what they're talking about.

This. I think you said what I was trying to say but more succinctly.
• Posts: 900 Member
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Yay- another person giving engineers a bad reputation. As if people don't already find us socially awkward and abrasive enough.
(That last sentence had horrible grammar, but I don't feel like fixing it because I'm an engineer and therefore far superior to everyone, anyway.)

This^, and because I have dated one for the last 5 years and one for 3 years before that, (yes I did call them one's), I just want to confirm most of the time they are very socially awkward and (at least the men versions) need to find ways of being self important (this post). Trying to understand is like banging your head on the wall!

Was trying not to get off topic, but maybe the problem was not that you were dating engineers. You were dating a**h*les.
• Posts: 900 Member
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If you find yourself on the ISS, or spending the weekend on the moon, the difference between mass and weight become more readily apparent. - even to non-science types.

On planet Earth, mass and weight are effectively the same (with negligible variations occurring in weight (but not mass) based on air pressure, distance from the Earth's center of gravity, etc.) - and since most of us live on the ol' blue marble, making the distinction, while more accurate, isn't really necessary.

The same with your fat vs. muscle example - since we're talking about the fat vs. muscle of an individual, it stands to reason that temperature and pressure variables are held constant and therefore there's no reason to mention them.

The primary function of language is to convey meaning and ideas. Simpler is always better, thus we need only convey relevant points... think about it in terms mathematics - you always present an equation in its simplest form.

I completely agree with this post. However, do you think most (lets say 90%) people understand what you just said? Or maybe it's not a problem. I doubt it though.
• Posts: 30
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I say Thank you for the lesson. I wish you were here to help my daughter understand her classes in biology and algebra. we virtual school so she stays home. It is hard to get her to comprehend those two classes. I think it is fabulous when a person points out such things
• Posts: 865 Member
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If you find yourself on the ISS, or spending the weekend on the moon, the difference between mass and weight become more readily apparent. - even to non-science types.

On planet Earth, mass and weight are effectively the same (with negligible variations occurring in weight (but not mass) based on air pressure, distance from the Earth's center of gravity, etc.) - and since most of us live on the ol' blue marble, making the distinction, while more accurate, isn't really necessary.

The same with your fat vs. muscle example - since we're talking about the fat vs. muscle of an individual, it stands to reason that temperature and pressure variables are held constant and therefore there's no reason to mention them.

The primary function of language is to convey meaning and ideas. Simpler is always better, thus we need only convey relevant points... think about it in terms mathematics - you always present an equation in its simplest form.

I completely agree with this post. However, do you think most (lets say 90%) people understand what you just said? Or maybe it's not a problem. I doubt it though.

Sincerely, I don't know if it's really important.

Personally, I think you and I are very similar in that my natural tendency is to make precise distinctions in terminology and - truth be told - there's a dark corner of my brain that screams for people to be more precise in their language, grammar, and spelling. But at the end of the day, it's a fitness forum - we're not splitting atoms or writing essays here.

On these boards, the most common 'pet peeve' items don't even register on my radar anymore - I know what someone means when they ask how to 'loose' weight or when they talk of muscle 'weighing' more than fat. And that's good enough for me. I try to focus more on the idea being conveyed since (for me, at least) a well reasoned thought expressed somewhat inarticulately still trumps precisely stated BS.

Just offering some perspective.
• Posts: 900 Member
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Sincerely, I don't know if it's really important.

Personally, I think you and I are very similar in that my natural tendency is to make precise distinctions in terminology and - truth be told - there's a dark corner of my brain that screams for people to be more precise in their language, grammar, and spelling. But at the end of the day, it's a fitness forum - we're not splitting atoms or writing essays here.

On these boards, the most common 'pet peeve' items don't even register on my radar anymore - I know what someone means when they ask how to 'loose' weight or when they talk of muscle 'weighing' more than fat. And that's good enough for me. I try to focus more on the idea being conveyed since (for me, at least) a well reasoned thought expressed somewhat inarticulately still trumps precisely stated BS.

Just offering some perspective.

I totally understand. I've repeated over and over again that I do not care about the accurate terminology. For some reason the people here just can't get that through their brains because they are too busy thinking about a clever GIF to post or an insult or whatever.

I care about whether people have an understanding. Usually I do give people the benefit of the doubt. But I've realized lately, that even smart educated people, don't have an understanding of basic scientific concepts. Even some people I know who have engineering degrees don't. For example, what a scientific theory really is. A lot of people think it's just a guess and can be written off as "just a theory."
• Posts: 900 Member
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Nah, he's just bored and being a "trust me, I'm an engineer" kind of troll.

You are correct that I am bored (work has been slow lately).

Although, please show me where I suggest people should just "trust me because I am an engineer."
• Posts: 900 Member
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Don't get me started on simple misunderstandings people have with quantum mechanics or with thermodynamics.
im actually curious about these. please elaborate. i dont know anyone who has any misconceptions about quantum mechanics, mostly because the only people who actually know ANYTHING about the subject have studied it at a university level

LOL. Yeah I wouldn't expect anyone to have an understanding of that crazy *kitten*.
• Posts: 900 Member
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As a mechanical engineer, I find it upsetting the lack of understanding in basic scientific principles on the forums.

Language is an inherently idiomatic medium, and always will be.

Agreed. You want me to get over myself because you agree with me?? I'm confuzzled.
• Posts: 900 Member
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You're pinning a lot on that engineer business.

I'm an engineer.

You're coming off as arrogant and abrasive. You're arguing something that does not need arguing, as it's already been done before.

LOLZ.
• Posts: 900 Member
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LOL @ calling someone a pretentious *kitten* and then turning around and saying "if I'm talking to a fellow engineer....we both have a pretty high level of confidence in each other's understanding.

I'm obviously not as smart as you so can't tell if that is an ironic or moronic statement.

Also LOL @ your powers of deduction whereby you can determine "that is a tell-tale sign..." just by reading one sentence of an anonymous internet post.

So...now a serious question (I really want to know the answer to this). If someone says, "the sky is blue"; do you take the time to explain to them about how they sky isn't really blue and that what they see is a reflection of light across the spectrum? Because if not...well....global warming.

Well I guess you took it personally. Sorry about that.

To answer your (ridiculous) question: No. If the person wanted to know why the sky is blue I would gladly explain it (although that is not my area of expertise). Also, LOL (I think?) at the global warming statement. Great joke.
• Posts: 900 Member
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m=d*v
f=m*g
f=w

• Posts: 10,330 Member
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I care about whether people have an understanding. Usually I do give people the benefit of the doubt. But I've realized lately, that even smart educated people, don't have an understanding of basic scientific concepts. Even some people I know who have engineering degrees don't. For example, what a scientific theory really is. A lot of people think it's just a guess and can be written off as "just a theory."

Do you not see why people are thinking of GIFs and insults? Because you are being condescending so a real answer would be validating you highly unscientific claims. I bet the majority of the people who commented here may actually know more than the bare basics. It's unnecessary at best. It's like attempting to teach you the basics of algebra, it's both unnecessary and lacks respect.
• Posts: 900 Member
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If you find yourself on the ISS, or spending the weekend on the moon, the difference between mass and weight become more readily apparent. - even to non-science types.

On planet Earth, mass and weight are effectively the same (with negligible variations occurring in weight (but not mass) based on air pressure, distance from the Earth's center of gravity, etc.) - and since most of us live on the ol' blue marble, making the distinction, while more accurate, isn't really necessary.

The same with your fat vs. muscle example - since we're talking about the fat vs. muscle of an individual, it stands to reason that temperature and pressure variables are held constant and therefore there's no reason to mention them.

The primary function of language is to convey meaning and ideas. Simpler is always better, thus we need only convey relevant points... think about it in terms mathematics - you always present an equation in its simplest form.

I completely agree with this post. However, do you think most (lets say 90%) people understand what you just said? Or maybe it's not a problem. I doubt it though.

Sincerely, I don't know if it's really important.

Personally, I think you and I are very similar in that my natural tendency is to make precise distinctions in terminology and - truth be told - there's a dark corner of my brain that screams for people to be more precise in their language, grammar, and spelling. But at the end of the day, it's a fitness forum - we're not splitting atoms or writing essays here.

On these boards, the most common 'pet peeve' items don't even register on my radar anymore - I know what someone means when they ask how to 'loose' weight or when they talk of muscle 'weighing' more than fat. And that's good enough for me. I try to focus more on the idea being conveyed since (for me, at least) a well reasoned thought expressed somewhat inarticulately still trumps precisely stated BS.

Just offering some perspective.

Joke! Take one.