# Scales

Weighing scales (or weigh scales or scales) are devices to measure weight or calculate mass. Spring balances or spring scales measure weight (force) by balancing the force due to gravity against the force on a spring, whereas a balance or pair of scales using a balance beam compares masses by balancing the weight due to the mass of an object against the weight of a known mass or masses. Either type can be calibrated to read in units of force such as newtons, or in units of mass such as kilograms, but the balance or pair of scales using a traditional balance beam to compare masses will read correctly for mass even if moved to a place with a different (non-zero) gravitational field strength (but would then not read correctly if calibrated in units of force), while the spring balance would read correctly in force in a different gravitational field strength (but would not read correctly if calibrated in units of mass).

The balance (also balance scale, beam balance and laboratory balance) was the first mass measuring instrument invented. In its traditional form, it consists of a pivoted horizontal lever with arms of equal length – the beam – and a weighing pan suspended from each arm (hence the plural name "scales" for a weighing instrument). The unknown mass is placed in one pan and standard masses of known weight are added to the other pan until the beam is as close to equilibrium as possible. In precision balances, a more accurate determination of the mass is given by the position of a sliding mass moved along a graduated scale. Technically, a balance compares weight rather than mass, but, in a given gravitational field (such as Earth's gravity), the weight of an object is proportional to its mass, so the standard "weights" used with balances are usually labeled in units of mass (g, kg, etc.).

This Icon is available to order as a Decal or on a T-Shirt