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Buoyancy
Asyoucanimagine,thereisdefinitelymoretowhetheranobjectfloatsornotthanjustaveragedensity.For
example,whydosomeobjectsfloathigherinthewaterthanothers?Andwhyisiteasiertoliftobjects
underwaterthanintheair?Toanswerthesequestions,youllneedtounderstandtheconceptofbuoyancy,a
forcewhichisexertedbyafluidonanobject,opposingtheobjectsweight.
ItisrumoredthattheGreekphilosopherandscientistArchimedes,around250B.C.,wasaskedbyKingHieroII
tohelpwithaproblem.KingHieroIIhadorderedafancygoldencrownfromagoldsmith.However,theking
wasconcernedthatthegoldsmithmayhavetakenhismoneyandmixedsomesilverinwiththecrowninsteadof
craftingthecrownoutofpuregold.HeaskedArchimedesiftherewasawaytodetermineifthecrownwaspure
gold.
Archimedespuzzledovertheproblemforsometime,comingupwiththesolutionwhilehewasinthebathtub
oneevening.WhenArchimedessubmergedhimselfinthetub,henoticedthattheamountofwaterthatspilled
overtherimofthetubwasequaltothevolumeofwaterhedisplaced.

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Usingthismethod,hecouldplacethecrowninabowlfullofwater.Theamountofwaterthatspilledovercould
bemeasuredandusedtotellthevolumeofthecrown.Bythendividingthemassofthecrownbythevolume,he
couldobtainthedensityofthecrown,andcomparethedensitytothatofgold,determiningifthecrownwas
puregold.Accordingtolegend,hewassoexcitedhepoppedoutofthetubandranthroughthestreetsnaked
yellingEureka!Eureka!(GreekforIfoundit!Ifoundit!)
Truestoryornot,thisamusingtaleillustratesArchimedesdevelopmentofakeyprincipleofbuoyancy:the
buoyantforce(FB)onanobjectisequaltothedensityofthefluid,multipliedbythevolumeofthefluid
displaced(whichisalsoequaltothevolumeofthesubmergedportionoftheobject),multipliedbythe
gravitationalfieldstrength.ThisisknownasArchimedesPrinciple.

ArchimedesPrincipleexplainswhyboatsmadeofsteelcanfloat.Althoughthesteeloftheboatitselfismore
densethanwater,theaveragedensityoftheentireboat(includingtheairintheinterioroftheboat)islessthan
thatofwater.Putanotherway,theboatfloatsbecausetheweightofthevolumeofwaterdisplacedbytheboatis
greaterthantheweightoftheboatitself.

Thisprinciplealsoaccountsfortheabilityofsubmarinestocontroltheirdepth.Submarinesusepumpstomove
waterintoandoutofchambersintheirinterior,effectivelycontrollingtheaveragedensityofthesubmarine.If
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thesubmarinewantstorise,itpumpswaterout,reducingitsaveragedensity.Ifitwantstosubmerge,itpumps
waterin,increasingitsaveragedensity.

Question:Whatisthebuoyantforceona0.3m3boxwhichisfullysubmergedinfreshwater
(density=1000kg/m3)?
Answer:

Question:Asteelcableholdsa120kgsharktank3metersbelowthesurfaceofsaltwater.Ifthe
volumeofwaterdisplacedbythesharktankis0.1m3,whatisthetensioninthecable?Assumethe
densityofsaltwateris1025kg/m3.

Answer:First,drawafreebodydiagram(FBD)ofthesituation,realizingthatyouhavetheforceof
gravity(mg)pullingdown,thebuoyantforceupward,andtheforceoftensioninthecableupward.
Becausethesharktankisatequilibriumunderthewater,thenetforceonitmustbezero,therefore
theupwardforcesmustbalancethedownwardforces.YoucanwritethisusingNewtons2ndLaw
intheydirectionas:

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Finally,youcanusethisequationtosolvefortheforceoftensioninthecable.

Question:Arectangularboatmadeoutofconcretewithamassof3000kgfloatsonafreshwater
lake(=1000kg/m3).Ifthebottomareaoftheboatis6m2,howmuchoftheboatissubmerged?
Answer:Becausetheboatisfloatingonthelake,themagnitudeofthebuoyantforcemustbeequal
tothemagnitudeoftheweightoftheboat.(FB=mg).
Sincetheboatisrectangular,youcanwriteitsvolume(V)asitsbottomarea(A=6m2)multiplied
bythedepthsubmerged(d).

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