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Bernoullis principle

This article is about Bernoullis principle and Bernoullis

equation in uid dynamics. For Bernoullis theorem in
probability, see law of large numbers. For an unrelated
topic in ordinary dierential equations, see Bernoulli differential equation.
In uid dynamics, Bernoullis principle states that an

its dynamic pressure and kinetic energy occurs with a

simultaneous decrease in (the sum of) its static pressure,
potential energy and internal energy. If the uid is owing out of a reservoir, the sum of all forms of energy is the
same on all streamlines because in a reservoir the energy
per unit volume (the sum of pressure and gravitational
potential g h) is the same everywhere.[4]
Bernoullis principle can also be derived directly from
Newtons 2nd law. If a small volume of uid is owing
horizontally from a region of high pressure to a region of
low pressure, then there is more pressure behind than in
front. This gives a net force on the volume, accelerating
it along the streamline.[5][6][7]
Fluid particles are subject only to pressure and their own
weight. If a uid is owing horizontally and along a section of a streamline, where the speed increases it can only
be because the uid on that section has moved from a region of higher pressure to a region of lower pressure; and
if its speed decreases, it can only be because it has moved
from a region of lower pressure to a region of higher pressure. Consequently, within a uid owing horizontally,
the highest speed occurs where the pressure is lowest, and
the lowest speed occurs where the pressure is highest.[8]

A ow of water into a venturi meter. The kinetic energy increases

at the expense of the uid pressure, as shown by the dierence in
height of the two columns of water.

1 Incompressible ow equation

In most ows of liquids, and of gases at low Mach number, the density of a uid parcel can be considered to
be constant, regardless of pressure variations in the ow.
Therefore, the uid can be considered to be incompressible and these ows are called incompressible ows.
Bernoulli performed his experiments on liquids, so his
Bernoullis principle can be applied to various types of equation in its original form is valid only for incompressuid ow, resulting in various forms of Bernoullis equa- ible ow. A common form of Bernoullis equation, valid
tion; there are dierent forms of Bernoullis equation for at any arbitrary point along a streamline, is:
dierent types of ow. The simple form of Bernoullis
equation is valid for incompressible ows (e.g. most
liquid ows and gases moving at low Mach number).
More advanced forms may be applied to compressible
ows at higher Mach numbers (see the derivations of the where:
Bernoulli equation).
v is the uid ow speed at a point on a streamBernoullis principle can be derived from the principle of
conservation of energy. This states that, in a steady ow,
g is the acceleration due to gravity,
the sum of all forms of energy in a uid along a streamline
is the same at all points on that streamline. This rez is the elevation of the point above a referquires that the sum of kinetic energy, potential energy
ence plane, with the positive z-direction pointand internal energy remains constant.[2] Thus an increase
ing upward so in the direction opposite to the
in the speed of the uid implying an increase in both
gravitational acceleration,
increase in the speed of a uid occurs simultaneously
with a decrease in pressure or a decrease in the uid's
potential energy.[1][2] The principle is named after Daniel
Bernoulli who published it in his book Hydrodynamica in


p is the pressure at the chosen point, and

The above equations suggest there is a ow speed at which

pressure is zero, and at even higher speeds the pressure is
is the density of the uid at all points in the
negative. Most often, gases and liquids are not capable
of negative absolute pressure, or even zero pressure, so
clearly Bernoullis equation ceases to be valid before zero
The constant on the right-hand side of the equation depressure is reached. In liquids when the pressure bepends only on the streamline chosen, whereas v , z and
comes too low cavitation occurs. The above equations
p depend on the particular point on that streamline.
use a linear relationship between ow speed squared and
The following assumptions must be met for this Bernoulli pressure. At higher ow speeds in gases, or for sound
equation to apply:[9]
waves in liquid, the changes in mass density become signicant so that the assumption of constant density is in the ow must be steady, i.e. the uid velocity at a valid.
point cannot change with time,
the ow must be incompressible even though pres- 1.1 Simplied form
sure varies, the density must remain constant along
a streamline;
In many applications of Bernoullis equation, the change
in the g z term along the streamline is so small compared
friction by viscous forces has to be negligible.
with the other terms that it can be ignored. For example,
in the case of aircraft in ight, the change in height z along
For conservative force elds (not limited to the gravita- a streamline is so small the g z term can be omitted. This
tional eld), Bernoullis equation can be generalized as:[9] allows the above equation to be presented in the following
simplied form:
+ + = constant

p + q = p0

where is the force potential at the point considered on

where p0 is called 'total pressure', and q is 'dynamic
the streamline. E.g. for the Earths gravity = gz.
pressure'.[13] Many authors refer to the pressure p as
By multiplying with the uid density , equation (A) can static pressure to distinguish it from total pressure p0 and
be rewritten as:
dynamic pressure q. In Aerodynamics, L.J. Clancy writes:
To distinguish it from the total and dynamic pressures,
the actual pressure of the uid, which is associated not
with its motion but with its state, is often referred to as


the static pressure, but where the term pressure alone is
used it refers to this static pressure.[14]

q + g h = p0 + g z = constant

static pressure + dynamic pressure = total pressure[14]

q =

The simplied form of Bernoullis equation can be summarized in the following memorable word equation:


v 2 is dynamic pressure,

h = z +
is the piezometric head or
hydraulic head (the sum of the elevation z and
the pressure head)[10][11] and
p0 = p + q is the total pressure (the sum
of the static pressure p and dynamic pressure

Every point in a steadily owing uid, regardless of the

uid speed at that point, has its own unique static pressure
p and dynamic pressure q. Their sum p + q is dened to
be the total pressure p0 . The signicance of Bernoullis
principle can now be summarized as total pressure is constant along a streamline.

If the uid ow is irrotational, the total pressure on every

streamline is the same and Bernoullis principle can be
summarized as total pressure is constant everywhere in the
It is reasonable to assume that irrotational
The constant in the Bernoulli equation can be normalised. uid ow.
situation where a large body of uid is
A common approach is in terms of total head or energy
body. Examples are aircraft in ight,
head H:
and ships moving in open bodies of water. However, it
is important to remember that Bernoullis principle does
not apply in the boundary layer or in uid ow through
= h+
H = z +
long pipes.

If the uid ow at some point along a stream line is
brought to rest, this point is called a stagnation point, and
at this point the total pressure is equal to the stagnation


Applicability of incompressible ow
equation to ow of gases

Bernoullis equation is sometimes valid for the ow of

gases: provided that there is no transfer of kinetic or
potential energy from the gas ow to the compression
or expansion of the gas. If both the gas pressure and
volume change simultaneously, then work will be done
on or by the gas. In this case, Bernoullis equation in
its incompressible ow form cannot be assumed to be
valid. However, if the gas process is entirely isobaric,
or isochoric, then no work is done on or by the gas, (so
the simple energy balance is not upset). According to the
gas law, an isobaric or isochoric process is ordinarily the
only way to ensure constant density in a gas. Also the gas
density will be proportional to the ratio of pressure and
absolute temperature, however this ratio will vary upon
compression or expansion, no matter what non-zero quantity of heat is added or removed. The only exception is
if the net heat transfer is zero, as in a complete thermodynamic cycle, or in an individual isentropic (frictionless
adiabatic) process, and even then this reversible process
must be reversed, to restore the gas to the original pressure and specic volume, and thus density. Only then is
the original, unmodied Bernoulli equation applicable. In
this case the equation can be used if the ow speed of the
gas is suciently below the speed of sound, such that the
variation in density of the gas (due to this eect) along
each streamline can be ignored. Adiabatic ow at less
than Mach 0.3 is generally considered to be slow enough.


Unsteady potential ow

The Bernoulli equation for unsteady potential ow is used

in the theory of ocean surface waves and acoustics.

domain. This is also true for the special case of a steady

irrotational ow, in which case f is a constant.[16]
Further f(t) can be made equal to zero by incorporating
it into the velocity potential using the transformation
1 2
= t0 f ( ) d, resulting in
+ v +
t 2
+ gz = 0.

Note that the relation of the potential to the ow velocity

is unaected by this transformation: = .
The Bernoulli equation for unsteady potential ow also
appears to play a central role in Lukes variational principle, a variational description of free-surface ows using
the Lagrangian (not to be confused with Lagrangian coordinates).

2 Compressible ow equation
Bernoulli developed his principle from his observations
on liquids, and his equation is applicable only to incompressible uids, and compressible uids up to approximately Mach number 0.3.[17] It is possible to use the fundamental principles of physics to develop similar equations applicable to compressible uids. There are numerous equations, each tailored for a particular application,
but all are analogous to Bernoullis equation and all rely on
nothing more than the fundamental principles of physics
such as Newtons laws of motion or the rst law of thermodynamics.

2.1 Compressible ow in uid dynamics

For a compressible uid, with a barotropic equation of
state, and under the action of conservative forces,
p p
+ p1 (dp)
+ = constant
along a streamline)



For an irrotational ow, the ow velocity can be described

as the gradient of a velocity potential . In that case, where:
and for a constant density , the momentum equations of
the Euler equations can be integrated to:[16]
p is the pressure
is the density
1 2 p
+ 2 v + + gz = f (t),

which is a Bernoulli equation valid also for unsteadyor

time dependentows. Here /t denotes the partial
derivative of the velocity potential with respect to time
t, and v = || is the ow speed. The function f(t) depends
only on time and not on position in the uid. As a result,
the Bernoulli equation at some moment t does not only
apply along a certain streamline, but in the whole uid

v is the ow speed
is the potential associated with the conservative force eld, often the gravitational potential
In engineering situations, elevations are generally small
compared to the size of the Earth, and the time scales of
uid ow are small enough to consider the equation of
state as adiabatic. In this case, the above equation becomes


+ gz + 1
= constant
along a streamline)

where, in addition to the terms listed above:

is the ratio of the specic heats of the uid
g is the acceleration due to gravity
z is the elevation of the point above a reference
In many applications of compressible ow, changes in elevation are negligible compared to the other terms, so the
term gz can be omitted. A very useful form of the equation is then:



When shock waves are present, in a reference frame in

which the shock is stationary and the ow is steady, many
of the parameters in the Bernoulli equation suer abrupt
changes in passing through the shock. The Bernoulli parameter itself, however, remains unaected. An exception to this rule is radiative shocks, which violate the assumptions leading to the Bernoulli equation, namely the
lack of additional sinks or sources of energy.

3 Derivations of Bernoulli equation

4 Applications

p0 is the total pressure
0 is the total density


Compressible ow in thermodynamics

The most general form of the equation, suitable for use in

thermodynamics in case of (quasi) steady ow, is:[2][20]

+ + w = constant. [21]

Here w is the enthalpy per unit mass, which is also often

written as h (not to be confused with head or height). Condensation visible over the upper surface of an Airbus A340

wing caused by the fall in temperature accompanying the fall in

Note that w = + p where is the thermodynamic energy pressure, both due to acceleration of the air.
per unit mass, also known as the specic internal energy.
So, for constant internal energy the equation reduces to In modern everyday life there are many observations
that can be successfully explained by application of
the incompressible-ow form.
Bernoullis principle, even though no real uid is entirely
The constant on the right hand side is often called the
inviscid[25] and a small viscosity often has a large eect
Bernoulli constant and denoted b. For steady inviscid
on the ow.
adiabatic ow with no additional sources or sinks of energy, b is constant along any given streamline. More gen Bernoullis principle can be used to calculate the lift
erally, when b may vary along streamlines, it still proves
force on an airfoil, if the behaviour of the uid ow
a useful parameter, related to the head of the uid (see
in the vicinity of the foil is known. For example,
if the air owing past the top surface of an aircraft
When the change in can be ignored, a very useful form
wing is moving faster than the air owing past the
of this equation is:
bottom surface, then Bernoullis principle implies
that the pressure on the surfaces of the wing will be
lower above than below. This pressure dierence
results in an upwards lifting force.[26][27] Whenever
+ w = w0
the distribution of speed past the top and bottom surwhere w0 is total enthalpy. For a calorically perfect gas
faces of a wing is known, the lift forces can be calsuch as an ideal gas, the enthalpy is directly proportional
culated (to a good approximation) using Bernoullis
to the temperature, and this leads to the concept of the
equations[28] established by Bernoulli over a century before the rst man-made wings were used for
total (or stagnation) temperature.

the purpose of ight. Bernoullis principle does not
explain why the air ows faster past the top of the
wing and slower past the underside. See the article
on aerodynamic lift for more info.
The carburetor used in many reciprocating engines
contains a venturi to create a region of low pressure to draw fuel into the carburetor and mix it
thoroughly with the incoming air. The low pressure in the throat of a venturi can be explained by
Bernoullis principle; in the narrow throat, the air is
moving at its fastest speed and therefore it is at its
lowest pressure.

Many explanations for the generation of lift (on airfoils,

propeller blades, etc.) can be found; some of these explanations can be misleading, and some are false.[31] This
has been a source of heated discussion over the years.
In particular, there has been debate about whether lift is
best explained by Bernoullis principle or Newtons laws
of motion. Modern writings agree that both Bernoullis
principle and Newtons laws are relevant and either can
be used to correctly describe lift.[32][33][34]

Several of these explanations use the Bernoulli principle

to connect the ow kinematics to the ow-induced pressures. In cases of incorrect (or partially correct) explanations relying on the Bernoulli principle, the errors generally occur in the assumptions on the ow kinematics and
An injector on a steam locomotive (or static boiler). how these are produced. It is not the Bernoulli princiis questioned because this principle is well
The pitot tube and static port on an aircraft are used ple itself that
to determine the airspeed of the aircraft. These
two devices are connected to the airspeed indicator,
which determines the dynamic pressure of the airow past the aircraft. Dynamic pressure is the dif- 6 Misapplications of Bernoullis
ference between stagnation pressure and static presprinciple in common classroom
sure. Bernoullis principle is used to calibrate the
airspeed indicator so that it displays the indicated
airspeed appropriate to the dynamic pressure.[29]
The ow speed of a uid can be measured using a device such as a Venturi meter or an orice
plate, which can be placed into a pipeline to reduce
the diameter of the ow. For a horizontal device,
the continuity equation shows that for an incompressible uid, the reduction in diameter will cause
an increase in the uid ow speed. Subsequently
Bernoullis principle then shows that there must be
a decrease in the pressure in the reduced diameter
region. This phenomenon is known as the Venturi
The maximum possible drain rate for a tank with
a hole or tap at the base can be calculated directly
from Bernoullis equation, and is found to be proportional to the square root of the height of the uid in
the tank. This is Torricellis law, showing that Torricellis law is compatible with Bernoullis principle.
Viscosity lowers this drain rate. This is reected in
the discharge coecient, which is a function of the
Reynolds number and the shape of the orice.[30]

There are several common classroom demonstrations that

are sometimes incorrectly explained using Bernoullis
principle.[39] One involves holding a piece of paper horizontally so that it droops downward and then blowing
over the top of it. As the demonstrator blows over the paper, the paper rises. It is then asserted that this is because
faster moving air has lower pressure.[40][41][42]
One problem with this explanation can be seen by blowing along the bottom of the paper: were the deection due
simply to faster moving air one would expect the paper to
deect downward, but the paper deects upward regardless of whether the faster moving air is on the top or the
bottom.[43] Another problem is that when the air leaves
the demonstrators mouth it has the same pressure as the
surrounding air;[44] the air does not have lower pressure
just because it is moving; in the demonstration, the static
pressure of the air leaving the demonstrators mouth is
equal to the pressure of the surrounding air.[45][46] A third
problem is that it is false to make a connection between
the ow on the two sides of the paper using Bernoullis
equation since the air above and below are dierent ow
elds and Bernoullis principle only applies within a ow

The Bernoulli grip relies on this principle to create

a non-contact adhesive force between a surface and
As the wording of the principle can change its implicathe gripper.
tions, stating the principle correctly is important.[51] What
Bernoullis principle actually says is that within a ow
of constant energy, when uid ows through a region
5 Misunderstandings about the of lower pressure it speeds up and vice versa.[52] Thus,
Bernoullis principle concerns itself with changes in speed
generation of lift
and changes in pressure within a ow eld. It cannot be
used to compare dierent ow elds.
Main article: Lift (force)
A correct explanation of why the paper rises would ob-

serve that the plume follows the curve of the paper and
that a curved streamline will develop a pressure gradient perpendicular to the direction of ow, with the
lower pressure on the inside of the curve.[53][54][55][56]
Bernoullis principle predicts that the decrease in pressure is associated with an increase in speed, i.e. that as
the air passes over the paper it speeds up and moves faster
than it was moving when it left the demonstrators mouth.
But this is not apparent from the demonstration.[57][58][59]
Other common classroom demonstrations, such as blowing between two suspended spheres, inating a large bag,
or suspending a ball in an airstream are sometimes explained in a similarly misleading manner by saying faster
moving air has lower pressure.[60][61][62][63][64][65][66]

See also
Terminology in uid dynamics
NavierStokes equations for the ow of a viscous
Euler equations for the ow of an inviscid uid
Hydraulics applied uid mechanics for liquids
Torricellis Law - a special case of Bernoullis principle
Daniel Bernoulli
Coand eect


[6] Acceleration of air is caused by pressure gradients. Air

is accelerated in direction of the velocity if the pressure
goes down. Thus the decrease of pressure is the cause of
a higher velocity. Weltner, Klaus; Ingelman-Sundberg,
Martin, Misinterpretations of Bernoullis Law, archived
from the original on April 29, 2009
[7] " The idea is that as the parcel moves along, following
a streamline, as it moves into an area of higher pressure
there will be higher pressure ahead (higher than the pressure behind) and this will exert a force on the parcel, slowing it down. Conversely if the parcel is moving into a
region of lower pressure, there will be an higher pressure behind it (higher than the pressure ahead), speeding it up. As always, any unbalanced force will cause a
change in momentum (and velocity), as required by Newtons laws of motion. See How It Flies John S. Denker
[8] Resnick, R. and Halliday, D. (1960), section 18-4,
Physics, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
[9] Batchelor, G.K. (1967), 5.1, p. 265.
[10] Mulley, Raymond (2004). Flow of Industrial Fluids: Theory and Equations. CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-2767-9.,
410 pages. See pp. 4344.
[11] Chanson, Hubert (2004). Hydraulics of Open Channel
Flow: An Introduction. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN
0-7506-5978-5., 650 pages. See p. 22.
[12] Oertel, Herbert; Prandtl, Ludwig; Bhle, M.; Mayes,
Katherine (2004). Prandtls Essentials of Fluid Mechanics. Springer. pp. 7071. ISBN 0-387-40437-6.
[13] Bernoullis Equation. NASA Glenn Research Center.
Retrieved 2009-03-04.
[14] Clancy, L.J., Aerodynamics, Section 3.5.


[15] Clancy, L.J. Aerodynamics, Equation 3.12

[16] Batchelor, G.K. (1967), p. 383

[1] Clancy, L.J., Aerodynamics, Chapter 3.

[2] Batchelor, G.K. (1967), Section 3.5, pp. 15664.
[3] Hydrodynamica. Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
[4] Streeter, V.L., Fluid Mechanics, Example 3.5, McGraw
Hill Inc. (1966), New York.
[5] If the particle is in a region of varying pressure (a nonvanishing pressure gradient in the x-direction) and if the
particle has a nite size l, then the front of the particle
will be seeing a dierent pressure from the rear. More
precisely, if the pressure drops in the x-direction (dp/dx
< 0) the pressure at the rear is higher than at the front
and the particle experiences a (positive) net force. According to Newtons second law, this force causes an acceleration and the particles velocity increases as it moves
along the streamline... Bernoullis equation describes this
mathematically (see the complete derivation in the appendix)."Babinsky, Holger (November 2003), How do
wings work?" (PDF), Physics Education

[17] White, Frank M. Fluid Mechanics, 6e. McGraw-Hill International Edition. p. 602.
[18] Clarke C. and Carswell B., Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics
[19] Clancy, L.J., Aerodynamics, Section 3.11
[20] Landau & Lifshitz (1987, 5)
[21] Van Wylen, G.J., and Sonntag, R.E., (1965), Fundamentals of Classical Thermodynamics, Section 5.9, John Wiley and Sons Inc., New York
[22] Feynman, R.P.; Leighton, R.B.; Sands, M. (1963). The
Feynman Lectures on Physics. ISBN 0-201-02116-1., Vol.
2, 403, pp. 406 409.
[23] Tipler, Paul (1991). Physics for Scientists and Engineers:
Mechanics (3rd extended ed.). W. H. Freeman. ISBN 087901-432-6., p. 138.
[24] Feynman, R.P.; Leighton, R.B.; Sands, M. (1963). The
Feynman Lectures on Physics. ISBN 0-201-02116-1., Vol.
1, 143, p. 144.

[25] Physics Today, May 1010, The Nearly Perfect Fermi

Gas, by John E. Thomas, p 34.
[26] Clancy, L.J., Aerodynamics, Section 5.5 (When a stream
of air ows past an airfoil, there are local changes in ow
speed round the airfoil, and consequently changes in static
pressure, in accordance with Bernoullis Theorem. The
distribution of pressure determines the lift, pitching moment and form drag of the airfoil, and the position of its
centre of pressure.)
[27] Resnick, R. and Halliday, D. (1960), Physics, Section 18
5, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York ("Streamlines are
closer together above the wing than they are below so
that Bernoullis principle predicts the observed upward dynamic lift.)
[28] Eastlake, Charles N. (March 2002). An Aerodynamicists View of Lift, Bernoulli, and Newton (PDF). The
Physics Teacher 40. The resultant force is determined by
integrating the surface-pressure distribution over the surface area of the airfoil.
[29] Clancy, L.J., Aerodynamics, Section 3.8
[30] Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual Ninth Edition
[31] Glenn Research Center (2006-03-15). Incorrect Lift
Theory. NASA. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
[32] Chanson, H. (2009). Applied Hydrodynamics: An Introduction to Ideal and Real Fluid Flows. CRC Press, Taylor
& Francis Group, Leiden, The Netherlands, 478 pages.
ISBN 978-0-415-49271-3.
[33] Newton vs Bernoulli.
[34] Ison, David. Bernoulli Or Newton: Whos Right About
Lift? Retrieved on 2009-11-26
[35] Phillips, O.M. (1977). The dynamics of the upper ocean
(2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-52129801-6. Section 2.4.
[36] Batchelor, G.K. (1967). Sections 3.5 and 5.1
[37] Lamb, H. (1994) 1729
[38] Weltner, Klaus; Ingelman-Sundberg, Martin. Physics
of Flight reviewed. The conventional explanation of
aerodynamical lift based on Bernoullis law and velocity
dierences mixes up cause and eect. The faster ow at
the upper side of the wing is the consequence of low pressure and not its cause.
[39] Bernoullis law and experiments attributed to it are
fascinating. Unfortunately some of these experiments
are explained erroneously... Weltner, Klaus; IngelmanSundberg, Martin. Misinterpretations of Bernoullis
Law. Department of Physics, University Frankfurt.
Archived from the original on June 21, 2012. Retrieved
June 25, 2012.
[40] This occurs because of Bernoullis principle fastmoving air has lower pressure than non-moving air.

[41] " Faster-moving uid, lower pressure. ... When the

demonstrator holds the paper in front of his mouth and
blows across the top, he is creating an area of fastermoving air. University of Minnesota School of Physics
and Astronomy
[42] Bernoullis Principle states that faster moving air has
lower pressure... You can demonstrate Bernoullis Principle by blowing over a piece of paper held horizontally
across your lips. Educational Packet (PDF). Tall Ships
Festival Channel Islands Harbor. Archived from the
original (PDF) on December 3, 2013. Retrieved June 25,
[43] If the lift in gure A were caused by Bernoulli principle, then the paper in gure B should droop further when
air is blown beneath it. However, as shown, it raises when
the upward pressure gradient in downward-curving ow
adds to atmospheric pressure at the paper lower surface.
Craig, Gale M. Physical Principles of Winged Flight.
Retrieved March 31, 2016.
[44] In fact, the pressure in the air blown out of the lungs
is equal to that of the surrounding air... Babinsky
[45] "...air does not have a reduced lateral pressure (or static
pressure...) simply because it is caused to move, the static
pressure of free air does not decrease as the speed of
the air increases, it misunderstanding Bernoullis principle to suggest that this is what it tells us, and the behavior of the curved paper is explained by other reasoning
than Bernoullis principle. Peter Eastwell Bernoulli? Perhaps, but What About Viscosity? The Science Education
Review, 6(1) 2007 http://www.scienceeducationreview.
[46] Make a strip of writing paper about 5 cm X 25 cm.
Hold it in front of your lips so that it hangs out and
down making a convex upward surface. When you blow
across the top of the paper, it rises. Many books attribute this to the lowering of the air pressure on top solely
to the Bernoulli eect. Now use your ngers to form
the paper into a curve that it is slightly concave upward
along its whole length and again blow along the top of
this strip. The paper now bends oftencited experiment, which is usually taken as demonstrating the common explanation of lift, does not do so... Jef
Raskin Coanda Eect: Understanding Why Wings Work
[47] Blowing over a piece of paper does not demonstrate
Bernoullis equation. While it is true that a curved paper lifts when ow is applied on one side, this is not
because air is moving at dierent speeds on the two
sides... It is false to make a connection between the ow
on the two sides of the paper using Bernoullis equation."
Holger Babinsky How Do Wings Work Physics Education 38(6)
[48] An explanation based on Bernoullis principle is not
applicable to this situation, because this principle has

nothing to say about the interaction of air masses having dierent speeds... Also, while Bernoullis principle allows us to compare uid speeds and pressures
along a single streamline and... along two dierent
streamlines that originate under identical uid conditions, using Bernoullis principle to compare the air
above and below the curved paper in Figure 1 is nonsensical; in this case, there arent any streamlines at all
below the paper!" Peter Eastwell Bernoulli? Perhaps,
but What About Viscosity? The Science Education Review 6(1) 2007
[49] The well-known demonstration of the phenomenon of lift
by means of lifting a page cantilevered in ones hand by
blowing horizontally along it is probably more a demonstration of the forces inherent in the Coanda eect than a
demonstration of Bernoullis law; for, here, an air jet issues from the mouth and attaches to a curved (and, in this
case pliable) surface. The upper edge is a complicated
vortex-laden mixing layer and the distant ow is quiescent, so that Bernoullis law is hardly applicable. David
Auerbach Why Aircreft Fly European Journal of Physics
Vol 21 p 295
[50] Millions of children in science classes are being asked to
blow over curved pieces of paper and observe that the paper lifts... They are then asked to believe that Bernoullis
theorem is responsible... Unfortunately, the dynamic lift not properly explained by Bernoullis theorem. Norman F. Smith Bernoulli and Newton in Fluid
Mechanics The Physics Teacher Nov 1972
[51] Bernoullis principle is very easy to understand provided
the principle is correctly stated. However, we must be
careful, because seemingly-small changes in the wording can lead to completely wrong conclusions. See How
It Flies John S. Denker
[52] A complete statement of Bernoullis Theorem is as follows: In a ow where no energy is being added or taken
away, the sum of its various energies is a constant: consequently where the velocity increasees the pressure decreases and vice versa."" Norman F Smith Bernoulli, Newton and Dynamic Lift Part I School Science and Mathematics Vol 73 Issue 3
[53] "...if a streamline is curved, there must be a pressure
gradient across the streamline, with the pressure increasing in the direction away from the centre of curvature.
[54] The curved paper turns the stream of air downward,
and this action produces the lift reaction that lifts the paper. Norman F. Smith Bernoulli, Newton, and Dynamic
Lift Part II School Science and Mathematics vol 73 Issue 4 pg 333
[55] The curved surface of the tongue creates unequal air
pressure and a lifting action. ... Lift is caused by air moving over a curved surface. AERONAUTICS An Educators


Guide with Activities in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education by NASA pg 26
[56] Viscosity causes the breath to follow the curved surface, Newtons rst law says there a force on the air and
Newtons third law says there is an equal and opposite
force on the paper. Momentum transfer lifts the strip.
The reduction in pressure acting on the top surface of
the piece of paper causes the paper to rise. The Newtonian Description of Lift of a Wing David F. Anderson & Scott Eberhardt pg 12
[57] '"Demonstrations of Bernoullis principle are often given
as demonstrations of the physics of lift. They are truly
demonstrations of lift, but certainly not of Bernoullis
principle.' David F Anderson & Scott Eberhardt Understanding Flight pg 229
[58] As an example, take the misleading experiment most
often used to demonstrate Bernoullis principle. Hold a
piece of paper so that it curves over your nger, then blow
across the top. The paper will rise. However most people
do not realize that the paper would not rise if it were at,
even though you are blowing air across the top of it at a
furious rate. Bernoullis principle does not apply directly
in this case. This is because the air on the two sides of the
paper did not start out from the same source. The air on
the bottom is ambient air from the room, but the air on the
top came from your mouth where you actually increased
its speed without decreasing its pressure by forcing it out
of your mouth. As a result the air on both sides of the
at paper actually has the same pressure, even though the
air on the top is moving faster. The reason that a curved
piece of paper does rise is that the air from your mouth
speeds up even more as it follows the curve of the paper,
which in turn lowers the pressure according to Bernoulli.
From The Aeronautics File By Max Feil http://webcache.{}pedro/ncientificos/artigos/
[59] Some people blow over a sheet of paper to demonstrate
that the accelerated air over the sheet results in a lower
pressure. They are wrong with their explanation. The
sheet of paper goes up because it deects the air, by the
Coanda eect, and that deection is the cause of the force
lifting the sheet. To prove they are wrong I use the following experiment: If the sheet of paper is pre bend the
other way by rst rolling it, and if you blow over it than,
it goes down. This is because the air is deected the other
way. Airspeed is still higher above the sheet, so that is not
causing the lower pressure. Pim Geurts.
[60] Finally, lets go back to the initial example of a ball
levitating in a jet of air. The naive explanation for the
stability of the ball in the air stream, 'because pressure
in the jet is lower than pressure in the surrounding atmosphere,' is clearly incorrect. The static pressure in
the free air jet is the same as the pressure in the surrounding atmosphere... Martin Kamela Thinking About

Bernoulli The Physics Teacher Vol. 45, September 2007

Clancy, L.J. (1975). Aerodynamics. Pitman Publishing, London. ISBN 0-273-01120-0.

[61] Aysmmetrical ow (not Bernoullis theorem) also explains lift on the ping-pong ball or beach ball that oats so
mysteriously in the tilted vacuum cleaner exhaust... Norman F. Smith, Bernoulli and Newton in Fluid Mechanics
The Physics Teacher Nov 1972 p 455

Lamb, H. (1993). Hydrodynamics (6th ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-45868-9.
Originally published in 1879; the 6th extended edition appeared rst in 1932.

[62] Bernoullis theorem is often obscured by demonstrations

involving non-Bernoulli forces. For example, a ball may
be supported on an upward jet of air or water, because any
uid (the air and water) has viscosity, which retards the
slippage of one part of the uid moving past another part
of the uid. Bauman, Robert P. The Bernoulli Conundrum (PDF). Professor of Physics Emeritus, University
of Alabama at Birmingham. Archived from the original
(PDF) on February 25, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
[63] In a demonstration sometimes wrongly described as
showing lift due to pressure reduction in moving air or
pressure reduction due to ow path restriction, a ball or
balloon is suspended by a jet of air. Craig, Gale M.
Physical Principles of Winged Flight. Retrieved March
31, 2016.
[64] A second example is the connement of a ping-pong ball
in the vertical exhaust from a hair dryer. We are told that
this is a demonstration of Bernoullis principle. But, we
now know that the exhaust does not have a lower value of
ps. Again, it is momentum transfer that keeps the ball in
the airow. When the ball gets near the edge of the exhaust there is an asymmetric ow around the ball, which
pushes it away from the edge of the ow. The same is
true when one blows between two ping-pong balls hanging on strings. Anderson & Eberhardt The Newtonian
Description of Lift on a Wing
[65] This demonstration is often incorrectly explained using
the Bernoulli principle. According to the INCORRECT
explanation, the air ow is faster in the region between the
sheets, thus creating a lower pressure compared with the
quiet air on the outside of the sheets. Thin Metal Sheets
Coanda Eect. University of Maryland Physics
Lecture-Demonstartion Facility. Archived from the original on June 23, 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2012.
[66] Although the Bernoulli eect is often used to explain this
demonstration, and one manufacturer sells the material for
this demonstration as Bernoulli bags, it cannot be explained by the Bernoulli eect, but rather by the process
of entrainment. Answer #256. University of Maryland
Physics Lecture-Demonstartion Facility. Archived from
the original on December 13, 2014. Retrieved December
9, 2014.

Further reading
Batchelor, G.K. (1967). An Introduction to Fluid
Dynamics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521-66396-2.

Landau, L.D.; Lifshitz, E.M. (1987). Fluid Mechanics. Course of Theoretical Physics (2nd ed.). Pergamon Press. ISBN 0-7506-2767-0.
Chanson, H. (2009). Applied Hydrodynamics: An
Introduction to Ideal and Real Fluid Flows. CRC
Press, Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 978-0-41549271-3.

10 External links
Bernoulli equation calculator
Denver University Bernoullis equation and pressure measurement
Millersville University Applications of Eulers
NASA Beginners guide to aerodynamics
Misinterpretations of Bernoullis equation Weltner
and Ingelman-Sundberg





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