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Hydrostatics Dr Walter Lewin MIT

Pascal's Principle; Pressure of an ‘enclosed’ fluid at rest is
transmitted to all points in the fluid & acts in all directions.
[ perpendicular to the walls ]
[ consequence of gravity & incompressibility ]
P = F / A A Area F Force P = ρ g h =
PotcntìuI Lnc¡g¡

dP/dy = – ρ g ρ density of the liquid
Hydrostatic pressure is due to gravity
We live in the fluid of the atmosphere
Fluids are Liquids, Gases & Plasmas

** Standard Atmospheric Pressure is
1 atm = 760 Torr = 14.696 psi = 1.01325 bar
= 101325 Pa = 1.01 x 10
Pa = 101.325 kPa
= 760 mm Hg = 10 m H2O
1 Pa = 1 N / m
= 9.87 x 10
1 Torr = 1 mm Hg , 760 Torr = 760 mm Hg
1 Bar = 10
Pa 1 Pa = 1 Pascal
ρ [mercury] = 13.6 x 10
kg / m

Pressure vs Height in the Atmosphere
P(h) = P
e^( – h / H0) H0 = kT/mg = 8000m
h= 2400m P= 0.75 atm H2O boils at 92C
h = 8.9km P = 0.33 atm H20 boils 70C [ Mt Everest ]
h= 30km P = 1/45 atm = 17 mm Hg H2O boils 20C
e 2400/8000 = 1.349 1/1.349 = 0.74 … checks ok
Vacuum levels vs Method
Mechanical Pump 1 Pa; Vapor Diffusion / Jet 10
Sublimation Pumps 10
Capillary Action / Capillarity the rise of a liquid in a
fine tube or narrow spaces. Caused by cohesive/adhesive
forces. Height determined by Gravity. Examples 1/ Towel
or hair dipped in water 2/ The wick of an oil lamp 3/ Paint
brush 4/ Transport of water from a plant root to its leaves

Capillary tubes Pascal’s Vases ; P is constant
Pascal’s Vases demonstrate fluid pressure depends only on height;
is independent of volume of fluid above it or shape of the vessel.
Thus a barometer works with any tube diameter or shape

Pascal's Law Pressure at any depth is the same
Integrating dP/dy = – ρ g yields
P1 – P2 = ρ g [ y2 - y1 ]
Pressure increases with depth ! ! [ See picture below ]
Liquid Pressure (P) = Weight Density (ρ g) x Depth (h)
Air pressure at sea level is 1 kg / cm
= 1000 kg/m

100 kg pressure on your hand both top and bottom
Mercury barometer is 0.76 m high = 760 mm high
Water barometer is 10.33 m high ; 13.6x higher than Hg
10 meters of water produce an overpressure of 1 atm
Pascal's Barrel Experiment; He attached a narrow tube
10 m long to a barrel of H2O, then filled it with water.
It caused the barrel to explode. Why ? The weight [force]
concentrated in a small area large pressure
Snorkel depth of 1 m possible given hydrostatic pressure
To inhale, you must expand your chest & overcome H2O
pressure. Can not inhale (suck in) even at depth of only
1 meter need for pressurized air tank
Letting air out underwater is easy. H2O pressure helps.
Siphon is like making a hole in the water container. The atm
pressure + reduced pressure [Venturi effect] due to flow in
the loop causes pressure differential to keep fluid flowing
Bernoulli Equation; 1/2 m v
+ m g h + PV = Constant
Lose P term of Bernoulli's equation since both ends of
tube are at 1 atm. Constant = 0 for static case
Solving for v speed of emptying liquid v = Sqrt [ 2 g h ]
PE converts to KE; Max height of siphon arc < 10m
Heavy chain-pulley analogy + tensile strength is flawed
Straw sucking height limit calculation
Sucking up thru a straw from a height ...limit h = 10.1m

If the pressure P [=F/A] , area A, the work done to raise the
column to h is W = F dot s = PAh/2 The potential energy
of the column is ρAhg (h/2) [c of m is in the middle].
When the column rises its highest, there is no motion, so all
the energy is potential. That means we can equate the
previous two expressions and get h = P/ρ g
h = 1.01 e5 N/m
/ 1000 kg/m
10 m/s
= 1.01 e1 N m / kg m / s
= 10.1 m
Applications; Auto braking system, Siphon, Hydraulic Jack/Press
Hydraulic Jack / Press Pressure vs Depth

Note that if the vessel at right is dropped and thus is in free fall, the
Equivalence Principle adds an upward pseudo gravity equal to the
downward inertial gravity so there is no longer a differential
pressure. All 3 streams will stop flowing out. The water will fall as
one solid body. No Gravity No Pressure differential with depth

Buoyant Force & Bernoulli’s Equation
Archimedes Principle 3rd century BC
Buoyant Force = weight of displaced fluid   
Buoyancy arises due to Gravity causing fluid pressure
[ liquid or gas ] to increase with depth and because
pressure is exerted in all directions (Pascal’s Principle).
Thus there is a net unbalanced upward force on any
submerged object called the Buoyant Force.
** The Buoyant Force is the same at all depths **

Archimedes King’s Crown Density Problem

Famous problem finding density of the King’s crown to
see if it really is gold [ ρ = 19.3 g/cm
] or not.
Weight crown in water = w of crown – W of displaced fluid
W of displaced fluid = w of crown – W crown in water
g = ρ
g – [ known by measurement]
= volume of displaced water [ measured ] ρ

Iceberg in water; ρ[ice] = 0.92 g/cm
ρ[w] = 1 g/cm

Floating w of object = w of displaced water
g] V
g = [M
g] V
= V [ice under water] = V
/ ρ

/ V
= ρ
/ ρ
= 0.92 / 1
so … 92% of an iceberg is underwater
Vertical Cylinder [ A x l ] in water; h = length under water
To float ρ[object ] < ρ [fluid] & h < l
Fb = weight of displaced fluid = A h ρ
If floating Fb = Mg + Air Pressure
A h ρ[fluid] g = A l ρ[object] g + Air P
independent of the shape or volume
Problem; rock in a boat thrown overboard
Water line goes down in pool. Why ??
Answer; smaller volume of water is displaced.
Stability of ships; Center of mass [CM] of ship must be
as low as possible & under CM of the displaced fluid
CM of Fb is at CM of displaced water
CM for mg Force is at CM of the ship;
not same point & not vertically aligned torque
will rotate until the 2 CM’s line up vertically no torque
one causes ship to capsize, the other a balancing restoring force
Standing up in a boat raises CM instability

Balloons Air is a fluid with Buoyancy forces too, like water
Think of a water tank holding an ice cube & rock halfway
down and let go. The ice rises and the rock sinks.
Same with He balloon & apple in air. One rises one falls
Hot Air Balloon
M[total] g = Mass M of gas + M[rest of the materials]
Fb = weight of displaced air = V ρ[air] g
To rise ; Fb > Mg ρ is density
V ρ[air] g > V ρ[gas] g + M[rest]
density of air > density of gas
a necessary but not sufficient condition
This is why hot air balloons are so large; Need big V
Since air ρ decreases with height, a He balloon rises
only to the height where ρ [air] = ρ [He]
Apple & He balloon on strings in outer space
**acceleration in any direction simulates gravity**
** It really creates a pseudo force due to inertia **
1/ In an accelerated box no gravity or air the apple &
balloon move together in the same direction, opposite
acceleration vector , due to inertia.
2/ Same accelerated box , but with Air added
Air sees the “gravity” and wants to move with it
Balloon moves due to differential air [fluid] pressure
Apple moves with the gravity vector [sinks in the fluid]
He balloon moves opposite to the gravity vector [rises]
due to buoyancy made possible by the acceleration
air + acceleration differential pressure buoyancy
no air [fluid] everything falls on Earth, floats in space
3/ Back on Earth, in a car with gravity & air
Hanging apple & Air balloon will go in opposite
directions if you hit the brakes or the gas
Bernoulli's Equation Conservation of Energy
1/2 m v
+ m g h + P V = Constant
**Note this concept is highly counter intuitive** ……
HIGH pressure area is where velocity is LOW, not high
Where speed is HIGH / increases, pressure is LOW / drops
Trade speed for height or pressure in a tube of fluid
1/ Blow up on a funnel with a ping pong ball inside and you
can NOT get it up or out due to the speed causing
a low pressure in the narrow region between wall and
ball. Turn it upside down and you can keep it in the
funnel against gravity; hard to believe until seen
2/ Vacuum hose blow pingpong ball vertically will be very
stable horizontally due to the Bernoulli Effect
as long as LP region is below center of mass. Will
remain so even if the air is at an angle not vertical.
3/ Turn glass of liquid upside down with cardboard on
top and the liquid will not fall down due to the
vacuum in the glass vs the outside air pressure
pushing up underneath the cardboard.
Venturi Effect is the reduction in fluid pressure that results
when a fluid flows through a constricted section of pipe.
As with a funnel the velocity of the fluid increases as the
cross sectional area decreases, with the static pressure
correspondingly decreasing. A fluid's velocity must increase
as it passes through a constriction to satisfy the Principle of
Continuity while its pressure must decrease to satisfy the
Principle of Conservation of Mechanical Energy.