Fluid Statics

Incompressibility of Water

What it shows

The bulk modulus of water is about 2.2 x 109 Pa, which means that a change of 1 N/m2 of external pressure on the liquid is able to change a given volume of it by a factor of 4.5 x 10-10 (for comparison, the same pressure change would produce a volume change of about 7 x 10-6 for air and 7 x 10-12 for cast steel ). So if we can completely fill a Florence flask with water, we can use it as a hammer to drive a nail into a board!

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Coke Can Buoyancy

What it shows

An unopened can of Diet Coke floats in a tank of water, whereas the same cannot be said for a can of regular Coca-Cola.

photo of fish tank with can of diet coke floating in it

Setting it up

Use the smallest available tank. If unopened cans are not already in the Prep Room, they can be procured...

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Cannon Ball Boat Puzzler

What it shows

Does the level of the ocean rise or fall when a cannon ball is tossed overboard? A question of displacement.

How it works

A difficult effect to see at sea, but it becomes clear by taking some parameters to extremes. Reducing the ocean to 12L in volume, and the boat to practically no mass by using a plastic bowl, a cannon ball of 1kg mass suddenly becomes substantial. With the cannon ball in the boat, its weight is distributed throughout the boat; the lowered density increases the amount of water displaced (by the fraction of the boat submerged), raising...

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Buoyant Force Measurement

What it shows

We have three 20 oz. soda bottles, one filled with water, one filled with sand, and one filled with air. A spring scale shows the water-filled bottle to weigh approximately 6N in air, and nearly 0N when it is fully submerged in a large container of water. Since gravity is still acting on the bottle when it is submerged in the water, there must be a force of 6N pushing up on it. This is the buoyant force.

We can do the same experiment with the bottle of sand. This bottle weighs roughly 13N in air, but when it is fully submerged in water it weighs 6N less. Even...

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Buoyant Force on Finger

What it shows

An object does not need to float in order to experience the buoyant force.

finger about to push against liquid in a cup

In this example we see a cup of water at rest on a pan balance. When the demonstrator pushes a finger down into the liquid, the buoyant force of the liquid pushes...

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Bean Buoyancy

What it shows

Objects with a density lower than the fluid that they are submerged in will float; objects with a greater density will sink. This is shown using a brass ball and ping-pong ball of equal size, and a sea of beans.

How it works

500g of navy beans form a rather coarse fluid in a 1.5L glass beaker. Embedded in the beans is a ping pong ball, and sitting on the surface is a brass ball, 4cm in diameter. This fluid needs to have flow 'induced', and this is done by shaking the beaker side to side. The ratio of densities of brass:beans:ping-pong is approximately...

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Archimedes' Principle

What it shows

Archimedes' principle states that the buoyant force or upthrust is equal to the weight of fluid displaced. An object with equal mass but a lower density occupies more volume so displaces more water; it therefore experiences a greater upthrust.

How it works

This demo compares the buoyant force acting on two 1kg masses, one of aluminum and one of brass. Each in turn is lowered into a beaker of water using a spring balance (figure 1). The aluminum, having the lower density, experiences the greater upthrust and a reduction in weight from 10N to about...

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Poiseuille's Law

What it shows

Poiseulle determined that the laminar flow rate of an incompressible fluid along a pipe is proportional to the fourth power of the pipe's radius. To test his idea, we'll show that you need sixteen tubes to pass as much water as one tube twice their diameter.

How it works

Poiseulle's law states that the flow rate Q is also dependant upon fluid viscosity η, pipe length L, and the pressure difference between the ends P by

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