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A load cell is a measuring device that is used to register forces of compression and tension. They are transductive measuring devices, which mean that they convert mechanical force into an electrical signal that gets interpreted by a computer or expressed on a gauge. While the bit about the sneezing technician might be an exaggeration, if, for example, a shift in the tectonic plates near Colorado Springs gave Cheyenne Mountain the shivers, the resulting compression and extension of load sensors would send signals to monitoring systems. A load sensor works by telling an external monitoring system the extent to which it is deformed by a force. The stronger the compressive force, the more deformation the cell experiences. Outside of the national security context, load cells sacrifice their shapeliness for more inconspicuous purposes like pallet weighing in warehouses and ingredient weighing in food processing (which requires miniature load cells). Force sensors weigh big rigs at highway weighing stations, and force transducers can be used to measure the load-bearing capacity of bridge-building materials. One variety of load cells (pressure sensors) can even be used to measure gas pressure in piping systems and engines.

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