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**In these notes, we use the divergence theorem to show that when you immerse a body
**

in a ﬂuid the net eﬀect of ﬂuid pressure acting on the surface of the body is a vertical force

(called the buoyant force) whose magnitude equals the weight of ﬂuid displaced by the

body. This is known as Archimedes’ principle. We shall also show that the buoyant force

acts through the “centre of buoyancy” which is the centre of mass of the ﬂuid displaced by

the body. The design of self righting boats exploits the fact that the centre of buoyancy

and the centre of gravity, where gravity acts, need not be the same.

We start by computing the total force due to the pressure of the ﬂuid pushing on the

body. Recall that pressure

◦ is the force per unit surface area that the ﬂuid imposes on the body

◦ acts perpendicularly to the surface

◦ pushes on the body

Thus the force due to pressure that acts on an inﬁnitesimal piece of body surface with

surface area dS and outward normal ˆ n is −p ˆ ndS. The minus sign is there because pressure

is directed into the body. If the body ﬁlls the volume V and has surface ∂V , then the total

force on the body due to ﬂuid pressure is

B = −

∂V

pˆ ndS

We now wish to apply a variant of the divergence theorem to rewrite

B = −

V

∇p dV .

But there is a problem with this: p(x) is the ﬂuid pressure at x and is only deﬁned where

there is ﬂuid. In particular, there is no ﬂuid inside the body, so p(x) is not deﬁned for x in

the interior of V . So we pretend that we remove the body from the ﬂuid and we call P(x)

the ﬂuid pressure at x when there is no body in the ﬂuid. We also make the assumption

that at any point x outside of the body, the pressure at x does not depend on whether the

body is in the ﬂuid or not. In other words, we assume that

p(x) =

P(x) if x is not in V

not deﬁned if x is in the V

This assumption is only an approximation to reality, but, in practice, it is a very good

approximation. So

B = −

∂V

pˆ ndS = −

∂V

P ˆ ndS = −

V

∇P dV (1)

Our next job is to compute

∇P. Concentrate on an inﬁnitesimal cube of ﬂuid whose

edges are parallel to the coordinate axes. Call the lengths of the edges dx, dy and dz and

1

the position of the centre of the cube (x, y, z). The forces applied to the various faces of

the cube by the pressure of ﬂuid outside the cube are illustrated in the ﬁgure

−P(x, y, z +

dz

2

) dxdy

ˆ

k

P(x, y, z −

dz

2

) dxdy

ˆ

k

−P(x, y +

dy

2

, z) dxdz ˆ P(x, y −

dy

2

, z) dxdz ˆ

The total force due to the pressure acting on the cube is

−P

x +

dx

2

, y, z

dydzˆıı ı + P

x −

dx

2

, y, z

dydzˆıı ı

−P

x, y +

dy

2

, z

dxdz ˆ + P

x, y −

dy

2

, z

dxdz ˆ

−P

x, y, z +

dz

2

dxdy

ˆ

k + P

x, y, z −

dz

2

dxdy

ˆ

k

Rewriting

−P

x +

dx

2

, y, z

dydzˆıı ı + P

x −

dx

2

, y, z

dydzˆıı ı = −

P(x+

dx

2

,y,z)−P(x+

dx

2

,y,z)

dx

ˆıı ı dxdydz

and rewriting the remaining four terms in a similar manner, we see that the total force

due to the pressure acting on the cube is

−

∂P

∂x

(x, y, z)ˆıı ı +

∂P

∂y

(x, y, z)ˆ +

∂P

∂z

(x, y, z)

ˆ

k

¸

dxdydz = −

∇P(x, y, z) dxdydz

We shall assume that the only other force acting on the cube is gravity and that the ﬂuid

is stationary (or at least not accelerating) so that the total force acting on the cube is zero.

If the ﬂuid has density ρ, then the cube has mass ρ dxdydz so that the force of gravity is

−gρ dxdydz

ˆ

k. The vanishing of the total force now tells us that

−

**∇P(x, y, z) dxdydz −gρ dxdydz
**

ˆ

k = 0 =⇒

∇P(x, y, z) = −gρ

ˆ

k

Subbing this into (1) gives

B = g

ˆ

k

V

ρ dV = Mg

ˆ

k

where M =

V

ρ dV is the mass of the ﬂuid displaced by the body. Thus the buoyant

force acts straight up and has magnitude equal to gM, which is also the magnitude of the

force of gravity acting on the ﬂuid displaced by the body. In other words, it is the weight

of the displaced ﬂuid. This is exactly Archimedes’ principle.

2

We next consider the rotational motion of our submerged body. The physical law

that determines the rotational motion of a rigid body about a point r

0

is analogous to the

familiar Newton’s law, m

dv

dt

=

F, that determines the translational motion of the body.

The ordinary velocity v is replaced by the angular velocity, the mass m is replaced by a

physical quantity called the moment of inertia and the force

F is replaced by a vector called

the torque about r

0

. A force

F applied at r = (x, y, z) produces the torque (r −r

0

) ×

F

about r

0

. This is all that we need to know about rotational motion of rigid bodies in these

notes.

Fix any point r

0

. The total torque about r

0

produced by pressure acting on the surface

of the submerged body is

T =

∂V

(r −r

0

) ×(−pˆ n) dS =

∂V

ˆ n ×

P(r −r

0

)

dS

By the cross product variant of the divergence theorem,

T =

V

∇×

P(r −r

0

)

dV =

V

¸

∇P ×(r −r

0

) + P

∇×(r −r

0

)

¸

dV

=

V

∇P ×(r −r

0

) dV

since

∇×r

0

= 0, because r

0

is a constant, and

∇×r = det

ˆıı ı ˆ

ˆ

k

∂

∂x

∂

∂y

∂

∂z

x y z

¸

¸

= 0

Subbing in

∇P = −gρ

ˆ

k

T = −

V

gρ

ˆ

k ×(r −r

0

) dV = −g

ˆ

k ×

V

ρ(r −r

0

) dV

= −g

V

ρ dV

ˆ

k ×

rρ dV

ρ dV

−r

0

= −

B ×

rρ dV

ρ dV

−r

0

=

rρ dV

ρ dV

−r

0

×

B

So the torque generated at r

0

by pressure over the entire surface is the same as a force

B

all applied at the single point

C

B

=

rρ dV

ρ dV

This point is called the centre of buoyancy. It is the centre of mass of the displaced ﬂuid.

3

The moral of the above discussion is that the buoyant force,

B, acts straight upward,

has magnitude equal to the weight of the displaced ﬂuid and acts at the centre of buoyancy,

which is the centre of mass of the displaced ﬂuid. Similarly, the gravitational force,

G,

acts straight down, has magnitude equal to the weight of the body and acts at the centre

of mass of the body. Because the mass distribution of the body need not be the same as

the mass distribution of the displaced ﬂuid, buoyancy and gravity may act at two diﬀerent

points. This is exploited in the design of self–righting boats. These boats are constructed

with a heavy, often lead, keel. As a result, the centre of gravity is lower in the boat than

the center of buoyancy, which is at the geometric centre of the boat. As the ﬁgure below

illustrates, a right side up conﬁguration of such a boat is stable, while an upside down

conﬁguration is unstable.

B

G

B

G

4

y. y.y. y. z 2 x. y − dy . z) dxdydz We shall assume that the only other force acting on the cube is gravity and that the ﬂuid is stationary (or at least not accelerating) so that the total force acting on the cube is zero. z x.y. y. The vanishing of the total force now tells us that ˆ − P (x. y. it is the weight of the displaced ﬂuid. z)ˆ + ∂y (x. z) dxdydz − gρ dxdydz k = 0 =⇒ Subbing this into (1) gives ˆ B = gk V ˆ P (x. z) ˆ + ∂P ∂z ˆ (x. y. Thus the buoyant V force acts straight up and has magnitude equal to gM . y. y. z 2 x. then the cube has mass ρ dxdydz so that the force of gravity is ˆ −gρ dxdydz k. y. z) dxdz ˆ P (x. 2 . y. y. which is also the magnitude of the force of gravity acting on the ﬂuid displaced by the body. z + dy 2 . z) k dxdydz = − P (x. y + dz ˆ 2 ) dxdy k dy 2 . In other words. we see that the total force due to the pressure acting on the cube is − ∂P ı ∂P ∂x (x. z) dxdz ˆ dz ˆ 2 ) dxdy k P (x. z − dz 2 dydz ˆ ı dxdz ˆ ˆ dxdy k dydz ˆ + P x − ı dx 2 . z).the position of the centre of the cube (x. z − The total force due to the pressure acting on the cube is −P x+ −P −P Rewriting −P x + dx 2 . z dx 2 . The forces applied to the various faces of the cube by the pressure of ﬂuid outside the cube are illustrated in the ﬁgure −P (x. z) = −gρ k ˆ ρ dV = M g k where M = ρ dV is the mass of the ﬂuid displaced by the body. y + dy . y.z) 2 2 ˆ ı dx dxdydz and rewriting the remaining four terms in a similar manner. z dydz ˆ = − ı P (x+ dx . z + dz 2 dydz ˆ + P x − ı dxdz ˆ + P ˆ dxdy k + P dx 2 . z x. y. If the ﬂuid has density ρ. y.z)−P (x+ dx . y. This is exactly Archimedes’ principle. y − −P (x.

and ∂ × r = det ∂x x ˆ ı ˆ ∂ ∂y ˆ k ∂ ∂z y z =0 Subbing in ˆ P = −gρk ˆ gρk × (r − r0 ) dV V T =− = −g ˆ = −g k × V ρ(r − r0 ) dV rρ dV − r0 ρ dV ˆ ρ dV k × V rρ dV − r0 ρ dV = −B × = rρ dV − r0 ρ dV ×B So the torque generated at r0 by pressure over the entire surface is the same as a force B all applied at the single point rρ dV CB = ρ dV This point is called the centre of buoyancy. m dv = F . z) produces the torque (r − r0 ) × F about r0 . y. 3 . This is all that we need to know about rotational motion of rigid bodies in these notes. It is the centre of mass of the displaced ﬂuid. A force F applied at r = (x. The physical law that determines the rotational motion of a rigid body about a point r0 is analogous to the familiar Newton’s law. dt The ordinary velocity v is replaced by the angular velocity. Fix any point r0 . because r0 is a constant. that determines the translational motion of the body.We next consider the rotational motion of our submerged body. the mass m is replaced by a physical quantity called the moment of inertia and the force F is replaced by a vector called the torque about r0 . The total torque about r0 produced by pressure acting on the surface of the submerged body is T = ∂V n (r − r0 ) × (−pˆ ) dS = ∂V ˆ n × P (r − r0 ) dS By the cross product variant of the divergence theorem. T = V × P (r − r0 ) dV = V P × (r − r0 ) + P × (r − r0 ) dV = V P × (r − r0 ) dV since × r0 = 0.

As a result. often lead. acts straight upward. the centre of gravity is lower in the boat than the center of buoyancy. has magnitude equal to the weight of the displaced ﬂuid and acts at the centre of buoyancy. buoyancy and gravity may act at two diﬀerent points. Because the mass distribution of the body need not be the same as the mass distribution of the displaced ﬂuid. G. As the ﬁgure below illustrates. B. while an upside down conﬁguration is unstable. This is exploited in the design of self–righting boats. acts straight down. has magnitude equal to the weight of the body and acts at the centre of mass of the body. These boats are constructed with a heavy. B B G G 4 . a right side up conﬁguration of such a boat is stable. Similarly.The moral of the above discussion is that the buoyant force. which is at the geometric centre of the boat. which is the centre of mass of the displaced ﬂuid. keel. the gravitational force.

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