<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Define buoyant force
  • State Archimedes’ principle
  • Describe the relationship between density and Archimedes’ principle

When placed in a fluid, some objects float due to a buoyant force. Where does this buoyant force come from? Why is it that some things float and others do not? Do objects that sink get any support at all from the fluid? Is your body buoyed by the atmosphere, or are only helium balloons affected ( [link] )?

Figure A is a drawing of a ship anchor submerged underwater next to some sea shrubs. Figure B is a photo of a floating submarine with a wake on 3 sides. Figure C is a photo of many colored balloons floating in air.
(a) Even objects that sink, like this anchor, are partly supported by water when submerged. (b) Submarines have adjustable density (ballast tanks) so that they may float or sink as desired. (c) Helium-filled balloons tug upward on their strings, demonstrating air’s buoyant effect. (credit b: modification of work by Allied Navy; credit c: modification of work by “Crystl”/Flickr)

Answers to all these questions, and many others, are based on the fact that pressure increases with depth in a fluid. This means that the upward force on the bottom of an object in a fluid is greater than the downward force on top of the object. There is an upward force, or buoyant force    , on any object in any fluid ( [link] ). If the buoyant force is greater than the object’s weight, the object rises to the surface and floats. If the buoyant force is less than the object’s weight, the object sinks. If the buoyant force equals the object’s weight, the object can remain suspended at its present depth. The buoyant force is always present, whether the object floats, sinks, or is suspended in a fluid.

Buoyant force

The buoyant force is the upward force on any object in any fluid.

Figure is a schematic drawing of the cylinder filled with fluid and opened to the atmosphere on one side. An imaginary object with the surface area A, that is smaller than the surface area of the cylinder, is submerged into the fluid. Distance between the top of the fluid and the top of the object is h1. Distance between the top of the fluid and the bottom of the object is h2. Forces F1 and F2 are applied to the top and the bottom of the object, respectively.
Pressure due to the weight of a fluid increases with depth because p = h p g . This change in pressure and associated upward force on the bottom of the cylinder are greater than the downward force on the top of the cylinder. The differences in the force results in the buoyant force F B . (Horizontal forces cancel.)

Archimedes’ principle

Just how large a force is buoyant force? To answer this question, think about what happens when a submerged object is removed from a fluid, as in [link] . If the object were not in the fluid, the space the object occupied would be filled by fluid having a weight w fl . This weight is supported by the surrounding fluid, so the buoyant force must equal w fl , the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.

Archimedes’ principle

The buoyant force on an object equals the weight of the fluid it displaces. In equation form, Archimedes’ principle    is

F B = w fl ,

where F B is the buoyant force and w fl is the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.

This principle is named after the Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes (ca. 287–212 BCE), who stated this principle long before concepts of force were well established.

Figure A is a drawing of a person submerged in water. Force wobj is expressed by the person, force Fb is applied by the water to the person. Figure B is a drawing in which the person is replaced by water. Now Force wfl is expressed by the water that replaced the person, force Fb remains the same.
(a) An object submerged in a fluid experiences a buoyant force F B . If F B is greater than the weight of the object, the object rises. If F B is less than the weight of the object, the object sinks. (b) If the object is removed, it is replaced by fluid having weight w fl . Since this weight is supported by surrounding fluid, the buoyant force must equal the weight of the fluid displaced.

Questions & Answers

Many amusement parks have rides that make vertical loops like the one shown below. For safety, the cars are attached to the rails in such a way that they cannot fall off. If the car goes over the top at just the right speed, gravity alone will supply the centripetal force. What other force acts and what is its direction if: (a) The car goes over the top at faster than this speed? (b) The car goes over the top at slower than this speed?
English Reply
how can I convert mile to meter per hour
Folorunsho Reply
1 mile * 1609m
hey can someone show me how to solve the - "Hanging from the ceiling over a baby bed ...." question
Shrushti Reply
i wanted to know the steps
sorry shrushti..
which question please write it briefly
Olympus Mons on Mars is the largest volcano in the solar system, at a height of 25 km and with a radius of 312 km. If you are standing on the summit, with what initial velocity would you have to fire a projectile from a cannon horizontally to clear the volcano and land on the surface of Mars? Note that Mars has an acceleration of gravity of 3.7 m/s2 .
Eloisa Reply
what is summit
highest point on earth
पृथवी को इसके अक्ष पर कितने कोणीय चाल से घूमाऐ कि भूमधय पे आदमी का भार इसके वासतविक भार से 3/5अधिक हो
Vasudev Reply
At a post office, a parcel that is a 20.0-kg box slides down a ramp inclined at 30.0° 30.0° with the horizontal. The coefficient of kinetic friction between the box and plane is 0.0300. (a) Find the acceleration of the box. (b) Find the velocity of the box as it reaches the end of the plane, if the length of the plane is 2 m and the box starts at rest.
Kaitlin Reply
As an IT student must I take physics seriously?
Akaare Reply
IT came from physics and maths so I don't see why you wouldn't
conditions for pure rolling
the time period of jupiter is 11.6 yrs. how far is jupiter from the sun. distance of earth from rhe sun is 1.5*10 to the power 11 meter.
Abu Reply
lists 5 drawing instruments and their uses
Micahlolo Reply
that is a question you can find on Google, anyway of top of my head, compass, ruler, protractor, try square, triangles.
A force F is needed to break a copper wire having radius R. The force needed to break a copper wire of radius 2R will be
Lalit Reply
it will be doubled
The difference between vector and scaler quantity
Yakubu Reply
vector has both magnitude & direction but scalar has only magnitude
my marunong ba dto mag prove ng geometry
how do I find resultant of four forces at a point
use the socatoa rule
draw force diagram, then work out the direction of force.
In a closed system of forces... Summation of forces in any direction or plane is zero... Resolve if there is a need to then add forces in a particular plane or direction.. Say the x direction... Equate it tk zero
define moment of inertia
Manoj Reply
it is the tendency for a body to continue in motion if is or continue to be at rest if it is.
what is Euler s theorem
Manoj Reply
what is thermocouple?
Manoj Reply
joining of two wire of different material forming two junctions. If one is hot and another is cold the it will produce emf...
joining of two metal of different materials to form a junction in one is hot & another is cold
define dimensional analysis
Dennis Reply
mathematical derivation?
Practice Key Terms 2

Get the best University physics vol... course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 1. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12031/1.5
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'University physics volume 1' conversation and receive update notifications?