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Pascal's Law 1

Linda Fahlberg-Stojanovska
Pascals Law is the principle of transmission of fluid-pressure
It says that "a pressure exerted anywhere in a confined incompressible fluid is transmitted
equally in all directions throughout the fluid
That is: pressure acts isotropically at a point" (isotropic means equally in all directions)
Here we prove that the pressure at a point M in a static fluid acts equally in all directions.
Start with
static fluid (a fluid at rest so only normal and body (no shear) forces)
a point M in the fluid

Question: What is the pressure at M?
Remember:
- We cannot talk about pressure without a surface.
- A point and a normal vector n

determine a surface S.
- Pressure forces act normal to a surface S and thus in the direction of n

.
Draw an arbitrary unit vector n

to M.
Draw "smaller and smaller nice", flat surfaces S,, S,, S,, each containing M such than n

is
normal to each of S,, S,, S,, at M.
The pressure on each of S,, S,, S,, is F/A so:
i Areaof S
i
i S
S
p
F | |
=
|
\ .

.
Stating i-~ means Area of Si 0 . When this happens, the surfaces S
i
- the point M.
o Now, remember that the surfaces S
i
are all normal to n

and thus depend on n

.
o This means that when Area of Si 0 , the pressure
i S
p goes to a number depending
both on the point M and the vector n

.
o We call this number the pressure p
n,M
with respect to n

at M.
That is,
,
0 i
lim
Areaof S
i
i
S
Areaof S
n M
p
F

| |
=
|
\ .

where
S
F

is the pressure force acting on S.


Pascal's Law states that
, n M
p does NOT depend on n

and we can write p


M
= pressure at M.

To prove our statement, we must show that
, n M
p does NOT depend on the choice of n

.
We show that
, , , , x M y n z M M M
p p p p = = = where p
x,M
is the pressure at M with respect to the
positive x-axis, p
y,M
is the pressure at M with respect to the positive y-axis and p
z,M
is
pressure at M with respect to the positive z-axis.

Since these 3 equalities are true for an aribtrary n

, we can conclude that p


n,M
does NOT depend on
our choice of n

and this proves Pascal's law.



Proof of
, , , , x M y n z M M M
p p p p = = =
Draw a point O "behind and below" M that is "close" to M and draw a cartesian system at O.
Pascal's Law 2

Linda Fahlberg-Stojanovska
Draw the "small" flat triangular surface with area A that lies on S with vertices (x,0,0),
(0,y,0) and (0,0,z) on the cartesian axes (below left). The sides of this triangle are parallel
to the cartesian plane and have area Ax, Ay and Az.
This makes: Ax=yz/2, Ay=xz/2, Az=xy/2 and Volume=xyz/3
.













Notice that we are being a bit sloppy with notation so as not to crowd the picture. Pressures are
NOT vectors; the arrow indicates the normal direction along which the corresponding pressure acts.

The (unit) directional vector of n

is , ,co cos , cos , s


ny z n x n u y y z
n n n n =< >= u < > u u


Then
co
cos
c
s
os
y ny y
z n
nx x
z z
x
A A
A A n
A A n
A
n
A
A
o = u o = o
o =
o = u o =
u o =
o
o

Let Mx=(0,y,z), that is Mx is the projection of M right onto the y-z plane (above right).
Let My=(x,0,z), that is My is the projection of M left onto the x-z plane
Let Mz=(x,y,0), that is Mz is the projection of M down onto the x-y plane
We will show (1)
, , n M y My
p p = , (2)
, , n M x Mx
p p = and (3)
, , n M z Mz
p p =
Remember that the pressure at M requires A-0.
As A-0, we have M
x
,M
y
,M
z
-M and thus
, , , , x M y n z M M M
p p p p = = = , which was what we
wanted.

1. We show
, , n M y My
p p = . (The projection with respect to y is the "easiest" to see.)
To show
, , n M y My
p p = , we compute the forces in the positive y-direction:
Components of forces in the y-direction coming from all 4 sides of the tetrahedron.
x. Component on x-side(back right): F
yx
= 0 (normal to y-direction)
z. Component on z-side (bottom )

F
yz
= 0 (normal to y-direction)

y. Component on y-side (back left)

F
yy
= p
y,My
Ay

Pascal's Law 3

Linda Fahlberg-Stojanovska
s. Component on surface (top)

F
ys
= purpleA
= - p
n,M
cos(0
ny
)A
= - p
n,M
Ay
Fluid at rest is in equilibrium sum of all forces is 0
F
yx
+ F
yz

+ F
yy
+ F
ys
= 0
0 + 0 + p
y,My
Ay+ 0 + (- p
n,M
Ay) = 0
p
y,My
= p
n,M


2. Analogously
, , n M x Mx
p p =

We include picture since that is the "hardest part".







3. We show that
, , n M z Mz
p p = .
This proof is NOT quite analogous to (1) since we must ALSO consider the body force of gravity.
To show
, , n M y My
p p = , we compute the forces in the positive z-direction:
Components of forces in the z-direction coming from all 4 sides of the tetrahedron.
x. Component on x-side(back right): F
zx
= 0 (normal to z-direction)
y. Component on y-side (back left):

F
zy
= 0 (normal to z-direction)

z. Component on z-side (back)

F
zz
= p
z,Mz
Az weight
weight = density g volume = - pg 1/3 xyz = -pg 1/3 2Azz
Notice the EXTRA infintesimal z.
So this term is much smaller than other terms. So we can consider it 0.
s. Component on surface (top)

F
zs
= purpleA
= - p
n,M
cos(0
nz
)A
= - p
n,M
Az
Fluid at rest is in equilibrium sum of all forces is 0
F
zx
+ F
zy

+ F
zz
+ F
zs
= 0
0 + 0+ p
z,Mz
Az 0 + (- p
n,M
Az) = 0
p
z,Mz
= p
n,M
QED

nz
u
, n M
p
M
, n M
p
M
nx
u
ny
u
, n M
p
M