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Weighing the Human Head?

  1. Jul 26, 2012 #1
    Just in the middle of random discussion with my friend, we wondered how could the weight of a human head (the portion above neck) be measured?
    Of-course without doing nasty things. (eg. chopping. :devil: )
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2012 #2


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    To what accuracy?
  4. Jul 26, 2012 #3
    I'm afraid I can't help you. I always chop.
  5. Jul 26, 2012 #4

    That describes a few methods for approximating it although I'm not sure of the accuracy of some methods

    Or you could lie ona table and then rest your unsupported head on a set of scales just over the edge of the table
  6. Jul 26, 2012 #5
    Resolution: < 0.1Kg
    Permissible Error: < 0.1 Kg
    But you can't assume that the head you are measuring is an ordinary type of head. It could have a ~1kg of bullets stuck on somewhere and the person might still be living. Point is, you neither know its tentative weight nor do you know its mass distribution.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2012
  7. Jul 26, 2012 #6


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    it seems a 1kg of bullets is pretty nasty.

    Note to Jimmy: buy life insurance and avoid chopping bullets.
  8. Jul 26, 2012 #7


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    I agree with Jimmy on this one; if I can't chop, I'm not interested.
  9. Jul 26, 2012 #8
    Reminds me of my beloved cousin Alphonse C. Snyder. According to the police report, he shot himself in the back of the head 27 times with a rifle from close range. When I chopped his head off to weigh it, the axe hit several bullets. It was so dull I had to replace it. You can well imagine my grief at the loss.
  10. Jul 26, 2012 #9
    Well, the mass can be easily measured by balancing torque once you locate the center of mass of the head.
    The trouble is thus the center of mass.
  11. Jul 26, 2012 #10


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    Well duh, you silly ***. Everyone knows that you use a titanium axe for gunshot victims. :rolleyes:
  12. Jul 26, 2012 #11
    Can you elaborate please?
  13. Jul 26, 2012 #12
    I'm sure this has the correct answer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Jkm6aYYdB8
  14. Jul 26, 2012 #13
    They covered this on QI. Basically, the technique is to stick your head in a bucket of water and measure the volume displaced. The underlying assumption is that the average density of the head balances out pretty close to that of water, an assumption, they assured us, that is reasonably accurate.
  15. Jul 26, 2012 #14


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    So you're pretty much guaranteed of success if your subject is hydrocephalus.
  16. Jul 26, 2012 #15
    Hmm, so the OP should go soak his head? Not as good as chopping but it'll do.
  17. Jul 26, 2012 #16


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    I dont think thats accurate Ken. Thats just volume of head x density of water.

    I think you can do it by weighing yourself in a pool once with your whole body in, and once with your head above water. Also measure the displacement to get the volumes of your body and head. There are enough knowns to solve your head weight out of water.
  18. Jul 26, 2012 #17
    Okay, well, what they pointed out on QI is that the way to do it accurately is to use an MRI scanner. However, if you don't have access to such a thing, the head in the backet technique is a pretty good approximation. So they said anyway. Can't say I've ever tried it myself.
  19. Jul 26, 2012 #18


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    If you're not allowed to cut off the head and weigh it, there is an equally accurate and more socially acceptable method. Cut the body off instead, then just weigh what's left over. :uhh:
  20. Jul 26, 2012 #19
    In the text below and in all subsequent replies, 'Torso' refers to Whole body minus head.

    Ok. We have volume of Torso and volume of head.
    Now, as you suggested to measure,
    1. Weight of whole_body inside water = Actual Body weight - weight of displaced water.
      We don't actually need to measure it, i.e. we won't get any extra information by measuring it , because weight of displaced water = volume of body * density of water
    2. Weight of only Torso inside water= Actual Body weight - weight of displaced water by Torso
      Similar case as above.
    So, we don't have enough knowns, but instead to many redundant knowns.
  21. Jul 26, 2012 #20
    Why don't you just soak your head?
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