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Learning objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Define density.
  • Calculate the mass of a reservoir from its density.
  • Compare and contrast the densities of various substances.

The information presented in this section supports the following AP® learning objectives and science practices:

  • 1.E.1.1 The student is able to predict the densities, differences in densities, or changes in densities under different conditions for natural phenomena and design an investigation to verify the prediction. (S.P. 6.2, 6.4)
  • 1.E.1.2 The student is able to select from experimental data the information necessary to determine the density of an object and/or compare densities of several objects. (S.P. 4.1, 6.4)

Which weighs more, a ton of feathers or a ton of bricks? This old riddle plays with the distinction between mass and density. A ton is a ton, of course; but bricks have much greater density than feathers, and so we are tempted to think of them as heavier. (See [link] .)

Density , as you will see, is an important characteristic of substances. It is crucial, for example, in determining whether an object sinks or floats in a fluid. Density is the mass per unit volume of a substance or object. In equation form, density is defined as

ρ = m V , size 12{ρ= { {m} over {V} } } {}

where the Greek letter ρ size 12{ρ} {} (rho) is the symbol for density, m size 12{m} {} is the mass, and V size 12{V} {} is the volume occupied by the substance.

Density

Density is mass per unit volume.

ρ = m V , size 12{ρ= { {m} over {V} } } {}

where ρ size 12{ρ} {} is the symbol for density, m size 12{m} {} is the mass, and V size 12{V} {} is the volume occupied by the substance.

In the riddle regarding the feathers and bricks, the masses are the same, but the volume occupied by the feathers is much greater, since their density is much lower. The SI unit of density is kg/m 3 size 12{"kg/m" rSup { size 8{3} } } {} , representative values are given in [link] . The metric system was originally devised so that water would have a density of 1 g/cm 3 size 12{1`"g/cm" rSup { size 8{3} } } {} , equivalent to 10 3 kg/m 3 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{3} } `"kg/m" rSup { size 8{3} } } {} . Thus the basic mass unit, the kilogram, was first devised to be the mass of 1000 mL of water, which has a volume of 1000 cm 3 .

Densities of various substances
Substance ρ ( 10 3 kg/m 3 or g/mL ) size 12{ρ` \( "10" rSup { size 8{3} } `"kg/m" rSup { size 8{3} } `"or"`"g/mL" \) } {} Substance ρ ( 10 3 kg/m 3 or g/mL ) size 12{ρ` \( "10" rSup { size 8{3} } `"kg/m" rSup { size 8{3} } `"or"`"g/mL" \) } {} Substance ρ ( 10 3 kg/m 3 or g/mL ) size 12{ρ` \( "10" rSup { size 8{3} } `"kg/m" rSup { size 8{3} } `"or"`"g/mL" \) } {}
Solids Liquids Gases
Aluminum 2.7 Water (4ºC) 1.000 Air 1 . 29 × 10 3 size 12{1 "." "29" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {}
Brass 8.44 Blood 1.05 Carbon dioxide 1 . 98 × 10 3 size 12{1 "." "98" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {}
Copper (average) 8.8 Sea water 1.025 Carbon monoxide 1 . 25 × 10 3 size 12{1 "." "25" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {}
Gold 19.32 Mercury 13.6 Hydrogen 0 . 090 × 10 3 size 12{0 "." "090" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {}
Iron or steel 7.8 Ethyl alcohol 0.79 Helium 0 . 18 × 10 3 size 12{0 "." "18" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {}
Lead 11.3 Petrol 0.68 Methane 0 . 72 × 10 3 size 12{0 "." "72" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {}
Polystyrene 0.10 Glycerin 1.26 Nitrogen 1 . 25 × 10 3 size 12{1 "." "25" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {}
Tungsten 19.30 Olive oil 0.92 Nitrous oxide 1 . 98 × 10 3 size 12{1 "." "98" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {}
Uranium 18.70 Oxygen 1 . 43 × 10 3 size 12{1 "." "43" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {}
Concrete 2.30–3.0 Steam 100º C size 12{ left ("100""°C" right )} {} 0 . 60 × 10 3 size 12{0 "." "60" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } } {}
Cork 0.24
Glass, common (average) 2.6
Granite 2.7
Earth's crust 3.3
Wood 0.3–0.9
Ice (0°C) 0.917
Bone 1.7–2.0
A pile of feathers measuring a ton and a ton of bricks are placed on either side of a plank that is balanced on a small support.
A ton of feathers and a ton of bricks have the same mass, but the feathers make a much bigger pile because they have a much lower density.

As you can see by examining [link] , the density of an object may help identify its composition. The density of gold, for example, is about 2.5 times the density of iron, which is about 2.5 times the density of aluminum. Density also reveals something about the phase of the matter and its substructure. Notice that the densities of liquids and solids are roughly comparable, consistent with the fact that their atoms are in close contact. The densities of gases are much less than those of liquids and solids, because the atoms in gases are separated by large amounts of empty space.

Questions & Answers

What is meant by dielectric charge?
It's Reply
what happens to the size of charge if the dielectric is changed?
Brhanu Reply
omega= omega not +alpha t derivation
Provakar Reply
u have to derivate it respected to time ...and as w is the angular velocity uu will relace it with "thita × time""
Abrar
do to be peaceful with any body
Brhanu Reply
the angle subtended at the center of sphere of radius r in steradian is equal to 4 pi how?
Saeed Reply
if for diatonic gas Cv =5R/2 then gamma is equal to 7/5 how?
Saeed
define variable velocity
Ali Reply
displacement in easy way.
Mubashir Reply
binding energy per nucleon
Poonam Reply
why God created humanity
Manuel Reply
Because HE needs someone to dominate the earth (Gen. 1:26)
Olorunfemi
why god made humenity
Ali
Is the object in a conductor or an insulator? Justify your answer. whats the answer to this question? pls need help figure is given above
Jun Reply
ok we can say body is electrically neutral ...conductor this quality is given to most metalls who have free electron in orbital d ...but human doesn't have ...so we re made from insulator or dielectric material ... furthermore, the menirals in our body like k, Fe , cu , zn
Abrar
when we face electric shock these elements work as a conductor that's why we got this shock
Abrar
how do i calculate the pressure on the base of a deposit if the deposit is moving with a linear aceleration
ximena Reply
why electromagnetic induction is not used in room heater ?
Gopi Reply
room?
Abrar
What is position?
Amoah Reply
What is law of gravition
sushil Reply
what is magnetism
Sandeep Reply
Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics for ap® courses. OpenStax CNX. Nov 04, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11844/1.14
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