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Archimedes' principle

Archimedes' principle, principle that states that a body immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a force
equal to the weight of the displaced fluid. The principle applies to both floating and submerged bodies
and to all fluids, i.e., liquids and gases. It explains not only the buoyancy of ships and other vessels in
water but also the rise of a balloon in the air and the apparent loss of weight of objects underwater. In
determining whether a given body will float in a given fluid, both weight and volume must be
considered; that is, the relative density, or weight per unit of volume, of the body compared to the fluid
determines the buoyant force. If the body is less dense than the fluid, it will float or, in the case of a
balloon, it will rise. If the body is denser than the fluid, it will sink. Relative density also determines the
proportion of a floating body that will be submerged in a fluid. If the body is two thirds as dense as the
fluid, then two thirds of its volume will be submerged, displacing in the process a volume of fluid whose
weight is equal to the entire weight of the body. In the case of a submerged body, the apparent weight
of the body is equal to its weight in air less the weight of an equal volume of fluid. The fluid most often
encountered in applications of Archimedes' principle is water, and the specific gravity of a substance is
a convenient measure of its relative density compared to water. In calculating the buoyant force on a
body, however, one must also take into account the shape and position of the body. A steel rowboat
placed on end into the water will sink because the density of steel is much greater than that of water.
However, in its normal, keel-down position, the effective volume of the boat includes all the air inside it,
so that its average density is then less than that of water, and as a result it will float.

specific gravity

physicsalso called relative density


ratio of the density of a substance to that of a standard substance. The usual standard of comparison
for solids and liquids is water at 4 C (39.2 F), which has a density of 1.000 kg per litre (62.4 pounds
per cubic foot). Gases are commonly compared to dry air, which has a density of 1.29 g per litre under
so-called standard conditions (0 C and 1 atmosphere pressure). For example, the liquid mercury has a
density of 13.6 kg per litre; therefore, its specific gravity is 13.6. The gas carbon dioxide, which has a
density of 1.976 g per litre under standard conditions, has a specific gravity of 1.53. Because it is the
ratio of two quantities that have the same dimensions (mass per unit volume), specific gravity has no

Buoyancy is intimately related to specific gravity. If a substance has specific gravity less than that of a
fluid, it will float on that fluid: helium-filled balloons will rise in air, oil will form a slick on water, and lead
will float on mercury. The specific gravity of a substance is characteristic; it is the same for different
samples of a substance (if pure, the same in composition, and free from cavities or inclusions) and is
used to help identify unknown substances. Specific gravity has many other applications: gemologists
use it to distinguish similar gems; chemists, to check on the progress of reactions and the concentration
of solutions; and auto mechanics, to test battery fluid and antifreeze.

Specific gravity is the basis of methods used throughout history to concentrate ores. Panning, jigging,
shaking, spiral separation, and heavy-medium separation are among the ore-dressing methods that
depend on differences in specific gravity to obtain concentrated ore. Specific gravity is highest in rocks
rich in iron, magnesia, and the heavy metals and lowest in those rich in alkalies, silica, and water.

The ease with which specific gravity can be precisely determined leads to its widespread use in
chemical science and technology; for example, determination of the specific gravity is part of the
routine characterization of a new liquid compound. The specific gravity of most organic compounds
containing only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen is less than one.
Among the devices used to measure specific gravity are the Jolly balance, the Westphal balance, the
pycnometer, and the hydrometer.

The principle that the net fluid force on a body submerged (or floating) in a stationary fluid is an upward
force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the body. This concept, perhaps the oldest stated
principle in fluid mechanics, was first put forth by Archimedes in the third century B.C.

In a static fluid, the weight of the fluid causes an increase in pressure with depth. Thus, at the surface of
the fluid, the pressure is atmospheric pressure (p0 = 14.7 lb/in.2 = 101 kilonewtons/m2), while at a depth
h the pressure has a larger value of p1, given by Eq. (1), where is the specific weight
of the fluid (weight/volume). The difference in pressure force between the bottom and the top of a
water column is therefore given by Eq. (2), where h and A are the height and area

of the column, and pb and pt are the pressures at the bottom and top of the column. This difference is
precisely equal to the weight W of the water within the column, given by Eq. (3). If

the water column were replaced with a solid object, the pressure forces on the object would be the
same as on the original water column. That is, the net hydrostatic pressure force on the object, termed
the buoyant force, would be equal to the weight of the water displaced (which is the statement of
Archimedes' principle). The same concept holds for a body of arbitrary shape, which can be thought of a
consisting of many small vertical columns fastened together. Archimedes' principle is valid for
submerged or floating bodies in liquids or gases

The forces at work in buoyancy

In physics, buoyancy (pronounced /b.nsi/) is the upward force that keeps things afloat. The net
upward buoyancy force is equal to the magnitude of the weight of fluid displaced by the body. This
force enables the object to float or at least seem lighter.

Archimedes' principle

It is named after Archimedes of Syracuse, who first discovered this law.[1] According to Archimedes'
principle, "Any object, wholly or partly immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight
of the fluid displaced by the object."

Archimedes' principle does not consider the surface tension (capillarity) acting on the body.[2]

The weight of the displaced fluid is directly proportional to the volume of the displaced fluid (if the
surrounding fluid is of uniform density). Thus, among completely submerged objects with equal masses,
objects with greater volume have greater buoyancy.
Suppose a rock's weight is measured as 10 newtons when suspended by a string in a vacuum. Suppose
that when the rock is lowered by the string into water, it displaces water of weight 3 newtons. The force
it then exerts on the string from which it hangs would be 10 newtons minus the 3 newtons of buoyant
force: 10 3 = 7 newtons. Buoyancy reduces the apparent weight of objects that have sunk completely
to the sea floor. It is generally easier to lift an object up through the water than it is to pull it out of the

The density of the immersed object relative to the density of the fluid can easily be calculated without
measuring any volumes:

Forces and equilibrium

This is the equation to calculate the pressure inside a fluid in equilibrium. The corresponding equilibrium
equation is:

where is the force density exerted by some outer field on the fluid, and is the stress tensor. We know
that in our case the stress tensor is proportional to the identity tensor: . Here is the
Kronecker delta symbol. Using this the above equation becomes:

Now let's assume that the outer force field is conservative, that is it can be written as the negative
gradient of some scalar valued function: : . Hence we have:

As you see, we got that the shape of the open surface of a fluid equals the equipotential plane of the
applied outer conservative force field. Now let's put the z axis pointing downwards. In our case we have
gravity, so where g is the gravitational acceleration, is the mass density of the fluid. Let
the constant be zero, that is the pressure zero where z is zero. So the pressure inside the fluid, when it
is subject to gravity:

So as we see, pressure increases with depth below the surface of a liquid, as z denotes the distance
from the surface of the liquid into it. Any object with a non-zero vertical depth will have different
pressures on its top and bottom, with the pressure on the bottom being greater. This difference in
pressure causes the upward buoyancy forces.

The buoyant force exerted on a body can now be calculated easily, since we know the internal pressure
of the fluid. We know that the force exerted on the body can be calculated by integrating the stress
tensor over the surface of the body:

The surface integral can be transformed into a volume integral with the help of the Gauss-Ostrogradsky
theorem :
where V is obviously the measure of the volume in contact with the fluid, that is the volume of the
submerged part of the body. Since the fluid doesn't exert force on the part of the body which is outside
of it.

The magnitude of buoyant force may be appreciated a bit more from the following argument. Consider
any object of arbitrary shape and volume V surrounded by a liquid. The force the liquid exerts on an
object within the liquid is equal to the weight of the liquid with a volume equal to that of the object. This
force is applied in a direction opposite to gravitational force that is, of magnitude:

where is the density of the liquid, is the volume of the displaced body of liquid , and is the
gravitational acceleration at the location in question.

Now, if we replace this volume of liquid by a solid body of the exact same shape, the force the liquid
exerts on it must be exactly the same as above. In other words the "buoyant force" on a submerged
body is directed in the opposite direction to gravity and is equal in magnitude to :

The net force on the object is thus the sum of the buoyant force and the object's weight

If the buoyancy of an (unrestrained and unpowered) object exceeds its weight, it tends to rise. An object
whose weight exceeds its buoyancy tends to sink.

Commonly, the object in question is floating in equilibrium and the sum of the forces on the object is
zero, therefore;

and therefore;

showing that the depth to which a floating object will sink (its "buoyancy") is independent of the
variation of the gravitational acceleration at various locations on the surface of the Earth.

(Note: If the liquid in question is seawater, it will not have the same density ( ) at every
location. For this reason, a ship may display a Plimsoll line.)

It is common to define a buoyant mass mb that represents the effective mass of the object with respect
to gravity

where is the true (vacuum) mass of the object, whereas o and f are the average densities of the
object and the surrounding fluid, respectively. Thus, if the two densities are equal, o = f, the object
appears to be weightless. If the fluid density is greater than the average density of the object, the
object floats; if less, the object sinks.


A floating object is stable if it tends to restore itself to an equilibrium position after a small
displacement. For example, floating objects will generally have vertical stability, as if the object is
pushed down slightly, this will create a greater buoyant force, which, unbalanced against the weight
force will push the object back up.

Rotational stability is of great importance to floating vessels. Given a small angular displacement, the
vessel may return to its original position (stable), move away from its original position (unstable), or
remain where it is (neutral).

Rotational stability depends on the relative lines of action of forces on an object. The upward buoyant
force on an object acts through the centre of buoyancy, being the centroid of the displaced volume of
fluid. The weight force on the object acts through its center of gravity. An object will be stable if an
angular displacement moves the line of action of these forces to set up a 'righting moment'. See also
Angle of loll.

Compressive fluids

The atmosphere's density depends upon altitude. As an airship rises in the atmosphere, its buoyancy
decreases as the density of the surrounding air decreases. As a submarine expels water from its
buoyancy tanks (by pumping them full of air) it rises because its volume is constant (the volume of
water it displaces if it is fully submerged) as its weight is decreased.

Compressible objects

As a floating object rises or falls, the forces external to it change and, as all objects are compressible to
some extent or another, so does the object's volume. Buoyancy depends on volume and so an object's
buoyancy reduces if it is compressed and increases if it expands.

If an object at equilibrium has a compressibility less than that of the surrounding fluid, the object's
equilibrium is stable and it remains at rest. If, however, its compressibility is greater, its equilibrium is
then unstable, and it rises and expands on the slightest upward perturbation, or falls and compresses
on the slightest downward perturbation.

Submarines rise and dive by filling large tanks with seawater. To dive, the tanks are opened to allow air
to exhaust out the top of the tanks, while the water flows in from the bottom. Once the weight has been
balanced so the overall density of the submarine is equal to the water around it, it has neutral buoyancy
and will remain at that depth. Normally, precautions are taken to ensure that no air has been left in the
tanks. If air were left in the tanks and the submarine were to descend even slightly, the increased
pressure of the water would compress the remaining air in the tanks, reducing its volume. Since
buoyancy is a function of volume, this would cause a decrease in buoyancy, and the submarine would
continue to descend.

The height of a balloon tends to be stable. As a balloon rises it tends to increase in volume with
reducing atmospheric pressure, but the balloon's cargo does not expand. The average density of the
balloon decreases less, therefore, than that of the surrounding air. The balloon's buoyancy decreases
because the weight of the displaced air is reduced. A rising balloon tends to stop rising. Similarly, a
sinking balloon tends to stop sinking.


If the weight of an object is less than the weight of the displaced fluid when fully submerged, then the object
has an average density that is less than the fluid and has buoyancy that is greater than its own weight. If the
fluid has a surface, such as water in a lake or the sea, the object will float at a level where it displaces the
same weight of fluid as the weight of the object. If the object is immersed in the fluid, such as a submerged
submarine or air in a balloon, it will tend to rise. If the object has exactly the same density as the fluid, then
its buoyancy equals its weight. It will remain submerged in the fluid, but it will neither sink nor float. An
object with a higher average density than the fluid has less buoyancy than weight and it will sink. A ship will
float even though it may be made of steel (which is much denser than water), because it encloses a volume of
air (which is much less dense than water), and the resulting shape has an average density less than that of the

Specific gravity

Specific gravity is defined as the ratio of the density of a given solid or liquid substance to the density
of water at a specific temperature and pressure, typically at 4 C (39 F) and 1 atm (760.00 mmHg).


Specific gravity is a dimensionless quantity (see below). Specific gravity is an expression of the weight
of a substance relative to the weight of an equal volume of water. Water has a specific gravity of one.
Substances with a specific gravity greater than one are denser than water, and so (ignoring surface
tension effects) will sink in it, and those with a specific gravity of less than one are less dense than
water, and so will float in it. Specific gravity is a special case of, or in some usages synonymous with,
relative density, with the latter term often preferred in modern scientific writing. The use of specific
gravity is discouraged in applications requiring high precision. Actual density, in dimensions of mass per
unit volume, is preferred in such cases.

Specific gravity, SG, is expressed mathematically as:

where is the density of the substance, and is the density of water. (By convention , the Greek letter
rho, denotes density.) The density of water varies with temperature and pressure, and it is usual to
refer specific gravity to the density at 4 C (39.2 F) and a normal pressure of 1 atm. The given
temperature and pressure are preferred because it is when water has its maximum density. In this case
is equal to 1000 kgm3 in SI units (or 62.43 lbmft3 in United States customary units).

Given the specific gravity of a substance, its actual density can be calculated by rearranging the above

Occasionally a reference substance other than water is specified (for example, air), in which case
specific gravity means density relative to that reference.

Specific gravity is, by definition, dimensionless and therefore independent on the system of units used
(e.g. slugsft3 or kgm3). However, the two densities must be converted to the same units before
carrying out the numerical ratio calculation.


Balsa wood has a specific gravity of 0.2, so it is 0.2 times as dense as water.
Aluminium has a specific gravity of 2.7, so it is 2.7 times as dense as water.
Lead has a specific gravity of 11.35, so it is 11.35 times as dense as water.
Mercury has a specific gravity of 13.56, so it is 13.56 times as dense as water.
Jolly balance

measurement device

device, now largely obsolete, for determining the specific gravity (relative density) of solids and liquids.
Invented by the 19th-century German physicist Philipp von Jolly, it consists in its usual form of a long,
delicate, helical spring suspended by one end in front of a graduated scale. To the lower end of the
spring is attached a weight pan and below that a small wire basket for samples. The difference in
extension of the spring when the sample is suspended in air and in water represents the loss of weight
in water; the weight in air divided by the loss of weight in water gives the specific gravity. The specific
gravity of a liquid can be obtained by suspending any convenient specimen of a solid first in water and
then in the liquid undergoing the test; the ratio of loss of weight of the solid in water and in the test
liquid gives the specific gravity of the liquid.

Law of buoyancy, discovered by Archimedes, which states that any object that is completely or partially
submerged in a fluid at rest is acted on by an upward, or buoyant, force. The magnitude of this force is
equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object. The volume of fluid displaced is equal to the
volume of the portion of the object submerged.

Relationship Between Specific Gravity and Density

Unlike density, which has units of mass per volume, specific gravity is a pure number, i.e., it has no
associated unit of measure. If the densities of the substance of interest and the reference substance are
known in the same units (e.g., both in g/cm3 or lb/ft3), then the specific gravity of the substance is equal
to its density divided by that of the reference substance. Similarly, if the specific gravity of a substance
is known and the density of the reference substance is known in some particular units, then the density
of the substance of interest, in those units, is equal to the product of its specific gravity and the density
of the reference substance.The most widely used reference substance for determining the specific
gravities of solids and liquids is water. Because the density of water is very nearly 1 g/cm 3, the density
of any substance in g/cm3 is nearly the same numerically as its specific gravity relative to water. In the
English system of units the density of water is about 62.4 lb/ft3, so the near equality between specific
gravity and density is not preserved in this system. Specific gravities of gases are often given with dry
air as the reference substance. Because the densities of all substances vary with temperature and
pressure, the temperature and (particularly for gases) the pressure for both the reference substance
and the substance of interest are often included when precise values of specific gravities are given.

Methods of Determining Specific Gravity

A number of experimental methods for determining the specific gravities of solids, liquids, and gases
have been devised. A solid is weighed first in air, then while immersed in water; the difference in the
two weights, according to Archimedes' principle, is the weight of the water displaced by the volume of
the solid. If the solid is less dense than water, some means must be adopted to fully submerge it, e.g., a
system of pulleys or a sinker of known mass and volume. The specific gravity of the solid is the ratio of
its weight in air to the difference between its weight in air and its weight immersed in water.Two
methods are commonly used for determining the specific gravities of liquids. One method uses the
hydrometer, an instrument that gives a specific gravity reading directly. A second method, called the
bottle method, uses a specific-gravity bottle, i.e., a flask made to hold a known volume of liquid at a
specified temperature (usually 20C). The bottle is weighed, filled with the liquid whose specific gravity
is to be found, and weighed again. The difference in weights is divided by the weight of an equal
volume of water to give the specific gravity of the liquid. For gases a method essentially the same as
the bottle method for liquids is used. Specific gravities of gases are usually converted mathematically to
their value at standard temperature and pressure (fluid mechanics) The force exerted vertically
upward by a fluid on a body wholly or partly immersed in it; its magnitude is equal to the weight of the
fluid displaced by the body.