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Chapter 3

Forces & Pressure

Compiled by
Cikgu Desikan
Chapter 3
Forces & Pressure
Dear students,
What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.
~ Ralph Marston

Learning Objectives :

1. Understanding pressure
2. Understanding pressure in liquids
3. Understanding gas pressure and atmospheric pressure
4. Applying Pascal s principle
5. Applying Archimedes principle

6. Understanding Bernoullis principle

Analysis of Past Year Questions
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
P1 7 8 7 8 5 7 9 9
A 1 1 1 - - - 1 1
P2 B 1 - 1 1 - 1 - -
C - - - - 1 - 1 -
A - - 1 - 1 1 -
B - 1 - - - - 1 1
Chapter 3
Forces & Pressure
Dear students,
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly
because you tread on my dreams.
Concept Map
Forces and Pressure


Solid Liquids Gases

Pressure Pressure Gas Atmospheric

Pressure Pressure

Pascals Archimedes Bernoullis

Principle Principle Principle

Applications of forces and pressure

3.1 Pressure

Pressure = ______________

Normal force per

unit area SI unit :
Nm-2 = Pascal = Pa

Amax P
Amin P

A sharp knife has a very
small surface area on its
The studs on a football
cutting edge so that high
boot have only a small
pressure can be exerted
area of contact with the
to cut the vegetables.
ground. The pressure
under the studs is high
Applications Involving enough for them to sink
High Pressure into the ground, which
gives extra grip.

Nails, needles and pins have

very sharp ends with very small
surface areas. When a force is
applied to the head of a nail, the
pressure will drive its sharp end
into a piece of wood easily.
Application involving
Low Pressure
Reducing the pressure
by increasing the area

Skis have a large area to A tractor moving on soft

reduce the pressure on ground has wide tires to
the snow so that they do reduce the pressure on the
not sink in too far. ground so that they will not
A wide shoulder pad of a heavy
sink into the ground.
bag will reduce the pressure
exerted on the shoulder of the
person carrying the bag.

Exercise 3.1
1. A block of metal of dimensions 0.5 m x 0.6 m x 1.0 m has a
mass of 300 kg. Calculate

a) the maximum pressure acting on the ground

1.0 m

0.6 m
0.5 m

b) the minimum pressure acting on the ground.

2. A student pressing a thumbtack into a piece of wood
with a force of 20 N. The surface area of the head of thumb
the thumbtack is 1 cm2 and the cross-sectional area
of the tip of the thumbtack is 0.01 cm2.
a) the pressure exerted by the students thumb on Head of
the head of the thumbtack thumbtack
b) the pressure of the tip of the thumbtack on the
c) What conclusion can be drawn from your
answers to (a) and (b)?
Tip of thumbtack

3.2 Pressure in Liquids
A liquid in a container exerts Characteristics of Pressure in a liquid.
pressure because of its weight.
For example, if you try to put your The pressure at any point in a liquid, at a particular
finger over the end of a tap when it depth, acts equally in all directions.
is turned on, you can feel the The pressure in a liquid does not depend on the area
pressure of the water in the pipe. of its surface.
The pressure in a liquid acts equally in all directions
and does not depend on the shape of the container.

Relate pressure in a liquid with

The pressure in a liquid is directly

The pressure in a proportional to the density of the liquid.
liquid is directly
proportional to the
depth. Holes at the
Water The pressure in a same height
liquid increases with
depth. Oil Water

Derive the formula for the pressure in a liquid.

The container on the left has a base area, A. It is

filled to a depth,h with a liquid of density, .

Volume of liquid, V = Ah
Density, Mass of liquid, m = V = Ah
Depth, Weight of liquid, W = mg = Ahg
Force on base, F = Ahg

Pressure, P = F = Ahg = hg

Base Area, A Pressure in liquid,

Exercise 3.2
1. If the density of sea water is 1150 kgm-3, calculate the pressure below 40m of sea water due to
the water alone.

2. The figure shows a cylinder containing liquid mercury. What is the

pressure caused by the liquid mercury at the point P?
[ Density of liquid mercury is 1.36 x 104 kgm-3 ]

Mercury 0.8m

Dam holds water Submarine is built
at high altitude. with thick wall.
The wall of the Explain.
dam has to be
thicker at the base.

Applications of
pressure in liquids

Water is stored in water A patient receiving intravenous drips

tank at higher level. Why? of a certain fluid from a bottle. In
order for the fluid to flow into the
vein, the bottle must be placed at a
height above the injection site. Why?

3.3 Gas Pressure And Atmospheric Pressure
Gas pressure
the force per unit area exerted by the gas molecules as they collide with the walls of their

Atmospheric pressure
1. Atmospheric pressure is the pressure caused
2. Atmospheric pressure acts equally in all directions.
3. Atmospheric pressure varies with the height of the object above sea level. It decreases with the
altitude or the height above sea level. At higher altitudes, the density and the temperature of the
air are lower. As a result, the frequency of collisions of the molecules is lower. Hence,
atmospheric pressure is lower.

Activities to show existence of atmospheric pressure

1. Fill the glass to the top with water and wet rim slightly.
2. Lie the cardboard on the top of the glass.
3. Hold the card firmly in place and turn the glass over.
4. Take away your hand.

What will happen ?

Atmospheric pressure
A metal can containing water is Heated until the water in it
vaporizes. Allow the steam to exit from the mouth of the can.
The can is then capped and cooled down with tap water. As
the result , the can is crushed and crumpled. Water

Explain why ? Metal can

Air removed 1. When we suck through a straw, the air pressure in the
straw is lowered.
2. Then the pressure of the atmosphere acting on the
pressure surface of the drink in the glass pushes the juice up the
straw and into our mouth.


Measuring atmospheric pressure by using Simple Fortin Barometer
1. The simple barometer Fortin is along glass tube that has been filled with mercury and the
inverted into a dish of mercury.
2. The mercury column rises or falls according to the pressure of air on the mercury in the dish.
3. The space above the mercury column is a vacuum so it exerts no pressure on the top of the
mercury column.
4. If the vertical height of the mercury is h cm ,therefore the atmospheric pressure reading is h
cm mercury .

Long glass tube Vacuum

Mercury 76 cm


How does the height ,h of the Fortin barometer vary?

The height, h will remains unchanged when
The height, h will increases
1. when the barometer is slowly submerged in water.

The height, h will decreases when


Measuring gas pressure by using Bourdon Gauge

1. When the gas supply is connected to a Bourdon gauge, the pressure in the curved metallic
tube will try to straighten it.
2. Hence the pointer will rotate.
3. The magnitude of the gas pressure can be read off the scale of the gauge.

Measuring gas pressure by using manometer

Atmospheric Atmospheric Atmospheric

Pressure Pressure Pressure


Gas Gas Gas

Example 1
The figure shows a manometer containing
mercury is connected to a gas supply.
Calculate the pressure of the gas supply in the
(i) cm Hg 15 cm
(ii) Pa
[ Density of mercury = 1.36 x 104 kg m-3 and
Atmospheric pressure = 76 cm Hg ] Gas

3.4 Pascals Principle
Pascals Principle
When pressure is applied to an enclosed fluid, the ________________ will be
throughout the whole enclosed fluid.

Verify the Pascals Principle Glass sphere

When the piston is pushed into the glass sphere the
jet of water is shot out from the holes in the glass
sphere with the same speed.
This is because the pressure acting on the water is Water
transferred uniformly throughout the water.
Jet of water
Hydraulic system

F1 1. A small input force, F1 is applied to the small

F2 piston resulting in a large output force, F2.
Input Output 2. Based on the Pascals Principle, the
Piston A1 A2 Piston pressure is transmitted uniformly in all
d2 directions, P1 = P2 =F1/A1 = F2/A2.

3. When incompressible fluid is moved through a hydraulic system, the volume through which
the input system moved must be the same as the volume through which the output system,
Hence, ______________
4. Hydraulic systems acts as a force multiplier. They multiply the input force by a certain factor
to gain a larger output force.
5. The magnitude of the force at the large piston depends on
1. ____________________________________________________
2. ____________________________________________________

Incompressible Must not contain any air bubbles.

fluid Existence of air bubbles will
reduce the efficiency of the system
Hydraulic as part of the applied force will be
Fluid used up to compress the air
Non corrosive

High boiling point

Important Formulas ***

Exercise 3.4
1. The figure shows a basic hydraulic system has 20N
small and large pistons with cross-sectional area
of 0.005 m2 and 0.1 m2 respectively. A force of Load
Small Large
20 N is applied to the small piston. Determine
Piston Piston
a) The pressure transmitted in the hydraulic
b) The mass of the load.
c) If the small piston is pushed down at a depth
a 0.04 m, what is the distance moved by the
large piston.

2. The figure shows a hydraulic system with two F
pistons A and B, connected to a tube that contains 10N
oil. The area of pistons A and B is 5 cm2 and 50
cm2 respectively, and a force of 10 N is exerted on
piston A. A B
Calculate the pressure that is exerted by piston A
on the oil.
a) What is the pressure that is exerted by the oil on Oil
piston B? Explain your answer.
b) Calculate force F, if the friction of the piston can
be ignored.

Application of Pascals Principle

Hydraulic Jack
Pivot Load

pressure Big
Small Piston

Valve Q Hydraulic
Valve P

Release Valve
1. When the small piston is lifted, hydraulic oil rushes in from the reservoir through the open valve
P. In the meantime, valve Q is closed. The cylinder connected to the small piston is filled with
hydraulic oil.
2. When the small piston is pressed downwards, the pressure produced is transferred onto the
hydraulic oil to the big piston. At the same time, valve P closes and valve Q opens.
3. A huge force is created depending on the area of the big piston. The, the lift on the big piston
exerted is locked in position.
4. With another lift from the small piston, the big piston is lifted higher and higher until the desired
height is reached.
5. When release valve opened, hydraulic oil from big cylinder returns to reservoir and the load
comes down. 22
Hydraulic Brake

1. A small force acting at the pedal can transmit a large force to all wheels simultaneously to
stop the car.
2. It is because the pressure will be transferred through the pedal brake liquid to cars tyre .

Essay Question
1. Explain the necessary modifications so
that the chair in figure 1 is safe and
suitable for the use of adults, based on
following aspects :
i. size of the pistons
ii. material to house the liquid Big piston
iii. size of the seat Small
iv. type of liquid for the jack piston
Figure 1

Modification Explanation
3.5 Archimedes Principle
Buoyant force
An ________________________resulting from an object being ____________or ___________
immersed in a fluid.

Relate buoyant force with the actual weight and apparent weight
1. Buoyant force makes thing seem to be lighter.
2. The weight of an object in air is its actual weight
3. The weight measured when the object is
immersed in a fluid is its apparent weight. 25 N
4. The apparent weight loss of the object is due to
15 N
buoyant force.
5. When in water, the object experiences two
a) The actual weight which acts downwards
b) The buoyant force which acts upwards.
6. The buoyant force is equal to the apparent loss
in weight. Water
7. Buoyant force = actual weight apparent weight displaced
25 15 = 10 N
8. The object displaces a volume of water. The Original
bigger the volume of the object immersed, the water
bigger the volume of the liquid displaced. level
9. Volume of liquid displaced = volume of the
submerged part of the object.
Relate buoyant force to the weight of the liquid displaced.
1. Pour water slowly into a eureka can until it flows out from the spout.
2. Weight an empty beaker and place it under the spout of the eureka can
3. Suspend a ball of plasticine at the hook of a spring balance by a string and weigh it in air.
4. Lower the plasticine into the eureka can until the plasticine is completely immersed in water.
Record the reading of the spring balance.
5. When there is no more water flowing out from the spout, weigh the beaker and water.

Weight of plasticine in air = x N (actual weight) balance
Weight of plasticine in water = y N (apparent weight)
Weight of the empty beaker = z N
Weight of the beaker and displaced water = w N Eureka
Buoyant force = Actual weight Apparent weight
= N
Weight of displaced water = N.
The result shows that the value of ( )=( )

Buoyant force = =

Archimedes Principle
When an object is immersed in a fluid (a liquid or a gas) ,the ___________________( upthrust
force) on the object is _____________to the ______________of fluid displaced by the object.

Buoyant Force

Weight of fluid displaced

From Archimedess Principle :

Buoyant Force = Weight of fluid displaced

Therefore, FB =

Where FB = Buoyant Force or Upthrust

= Density of fluid
V = Volume of fluid displaced or the volume of the object that immersed in the fluid

Exercise 3.5.1
1. An object is hung from a spring.
a) What is the buoyant force on the object in water?
b) What is the weight of water displaced by the object? 65 N
c) Determine the volume of water displaced by the object.
[density of water=1000kgm-3] 30 N
d) What is the volume of the object?

2. A stone weights 2.5 N. When it is fully submerged in a liquid, its apparent weight is 2.2 N.
Calculate the density of liquid if its volume displaced by the stone is 25 cm 3 .

Buoyant Force and Flotation
Buoyant Force

State of
object as as
Condition Buoyant force Buoyant force Buoyant force
= Weight of > Weight of < Weight Weight
object object of object

Law of floatation A floating object

Based on Figure (a), (b) ,(c) and (d) write the equations in words to relate the forces acting on the
objects when the objects float and stationary.
a) Buoyant Force b) c) d)

Wmetal sphere

FB= Wmetal sphere

Exercise 3.5.2
1. An object of mass 5 kg floats on the surface water. What is the upthrust experienced by the

2. The figure shows a glass tube of mass 0.012 kg with uniform

Glass tube
diameter and cross-sectional area 4 x 10 - 4 m2 , and it is filled
with sand so that it is made vertical in a beaker containing
[ Density of water is 1000 kg m-3 ]. Determine
(a) The upthrust Water
(b) The mass of sand in the glass tube. 0.08 m Sand

Applications of Archimedes Principle

Buoyant Force
= Weight of
submarine Buoyant Force
Empty tank
= Weight of

Tank partially filled Buoyant Force

with water < Weight of
a) Float on sea surface

b) Float in sea surface Tank fully-filled

with water

c) Sinking

How does a submarine sink?

A submarine has a large balast tank, which is used to control its position and depth from the
surface of the sea. When the ballast tanks are filled with water, the buoyant force is smaller than
the weight of the submarine. The submarine sinks.

How does a submarine rises?

When the ballast tanks are filled with air (removed all water) , the buoyant force is larger than
the weight of the submarine. The submarine rises. 31
Hydrometer Density of acid in car
accumulator measured
using hydrometer
floats lower floats higher

Low density High density

liquid liquid


Lead shots Car

Hydrometer acid

A hydrometer is an instrument used to measure the relative

density of liquids such as milk or acid in accumulators.
It consists of a tube with a bulb at one end. Lead shots are
placed in the bulb to weigh it down and enable the hydrometer
floats vertically in the liquid.
In a liquid of lesser density, a larger volume of liquid must be
displaced for the buoyant force to equal the weight. So the
more the hydrometer is submerged.
The hydrometer floats higher in a liquid of higher density.

Plimsoll line

These marks prevent overloading

2012 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

The density of sea water varies with location.

Plimsoll line marked on the body of the ship acts as a guide to ensure that a ship is loaded
within safe limits.
A ship will be submerged deeper in fresh water because the density of fresh water is less than
the sea water.
For this reason, a ship must displace more water to obtain sufficient buoyant force to support its
weight. Moreover, a ship can float lower in the cold season as cold water has a higher density.


Sea water River water

A boat will submerged deeper in the river. Why?

The buoyant forces in the sea and in the river are the same. This is because the buoyant force
is equal to the weight of the boat which is unchanged.
The density of fresh water is lower than sea water. The buoyant force of a floating boat is equal
to the weight of water displaced.
The lower the density of the water, the larger the volume of water displaced.
A boat must displace more river water to obtain sufficient buoyant force to support its weight.


Sea water Sea water

If extra weight is put into the boat, why will the boat float lower in the water?

Explain why a boat made of steel will float in water, but a block of steel will sink.
A block of steel will displaced a small volume of water only. So the buoyant force acting on it is
smaller than its weight. Therefore it sinks.
A ship floats on the surface of the sea because the volume of water displaced by the ship is
large. The weight of water displaced is large so the buoyant force acting on the ship is also
greater. Weight of ship equal Buoyant force. Therefore it floats.
Although a ship is constructed of metal, which has a larger density than water, its shape is
hollow so that the overall density of the ship is smaller than the sea water.
As a result, the buoyant force acting on the ship is large enough to support its weight.

Hot Air Balloon

A hot-air balloon displaces a large volume of air. The

buoyant force due to the surrounding air is equal the weight
of the air displaced.
When buoyant force is smaller, than the weight of the total
weight of the balloon, the balloon will rise.
When the total weight of the balloon is equal to the buoyant
force, it remains floating in the air.

3.6 Bernoullis Principle
Bernoullis principle

The pressure of a moving liquid ___________________________________________________


Activities to show Bernoullis Principle

1 1. When the air is blown up in the surface of a piece

of paper, its observed that the paper moves up.
Final position
2. This happened because the air moved at a very
high velocity.
3. According to Bernoullis Principle, the pressure of
Blowing Air
the moving air decreases as the speed of the air
Paper increases.
4. The higher atmospheric pressure which acts at
the bottom of the paper pushes up the paper.
Origin position

2 1. When the air is blown harder through the
String straw , the two ping-pong balls will move
closely to each other.
Ping-pong 2. The air moved at a very high velocity
between the balls.
3. According to Bernoullis Principle, the
Straw pressure of the moving air decreases as the
speed of the air increases.
4. The higher atmospheric pressure caused
Blowing Air the ping-pong balls closer to each other.

3 Blowing Air
1. When the air blows harder, the ball is not
falling down. It is because the air moved at
a very high velocity between the balls and
the wall of the filter tunnel.
2. According to Bernoullis Principle, the
Ping-pong pressure of the moving air decreases as the
ball speed of the air increases.
3. The bottom of the ball has the higher
atmospheric pressure which can hold the
ball from falling down.

Mark the water level in the vertical tubes P,Q and R in the following figures.

a) d)

P Q R Air

Q e)





*** Pressure of moving fluid at point R (end) always less than pressure at point P (initial). 38
When two speed bots move faster and closely
A person who stands near a railway feels to each other, an accident may be occurred.
like falling into it when suddenly a train Why ?
moves with a high speed passes him. It is Water moves at a very high velocity between the
because the velocity of the air in front of boats. The pressure of the moving water
him increases. The pressure of the moving decreases as its speed increases (according to
air decreases as the speed of the air Bernoullis Principle). The higher water pressure
increases (according to Bernoullis on either side of the boats caused its closer to
Principle). The higher atmospheric each other. High Pressure
pressure behind pushes him forward. F

Applications of
Bernoullis Principle Fast moving
F Low Pressure
High Pressure

Jet of air When the piston is pushed, air is forced out

Piston through the jet of air at a high speed. The
pressure of the moving air decreases as the
speed of the air increases (according to
Atmospheric Narrow Bernoullis Principle). The higher atmospheric
pressure metalic pressure in the insect poison container will push
tube the insect poison liquid up through the narrow
Insect poison liquid metallic tube. The high speed jet of air will cause
the poison liquid to be sprayed out. 39
Decreased pressure
Faster airflow


Slower airflow
Increased pressure
1. The figure shows the streamlines round a thin wing at an angle of attack to the air stream.
2. When a wing in the form of an aerofoil moves in air, the flow of air over the top travels faster
and creates a region of low pressure.
3. The flow of air below the wing is slower resulting in a region of higher pressure.
4. The difference between the pressures at the top and underside of the wing causes a net
upward force, called lift, which helps the plane to take-off.

5. In addition to its use in airplanes, aerofoil is also used in racing cars. In this case, the
downward force helps to stabilize the car at high speeds.

Other applications :

1. A strong wind blowing at a pressure of 300 kPa on a mans umbrella. If the surface area
of the umbrella is 16000 cm2, calculate the force experienced by umbrella.

2. Explain why a small aquatic bird can walk across lily pads without sinking into water.

3. Given that the density of mercury is . If the pressure due to a column of mercury is 76 cm, what
is the length of water column at the same pressure? [Density of water = 1 gcm-3 ]

4. The acceleration due to gravity of the Moon is 1/6 of the Earth. A liquid container has a liquid
pressure of 150 kPa at its base is brought to the Moons surface. Calculate the liquid pressure.

5. A test tube contains two layer of liquids. The densities of

oil and water are 750 kgm-3 and 1000 kgm-3 respectively.
[ g = 10 ms-2]
a) Calculate the pressure exerted on water by the oil
layer. 3.0 cm Oil
b) Find the total pressure exerted on the bottom of the
container. 4.5 cm Water

6. Figure shows a manometer filled with mercury
is supplied with a gas. The atmospheric Gas C Glass
pressure is 76 cmHg. supply tube

Calculate the pressure of gas supply in pascal.

[Density of mercury is 1.36 x 104 kgm-3 , A B 20 cm
g = 10 ms-2]
8 cm

Mercury D

7. Figure shows a car of 15 000 N is placed on

top of the larger piston of an hydraulic jack. 0.5 m
a) Calculate the minimum force required by 0.3 m
the smaller piston to lift the car. A B
b) Determine the transmitted pressure

8. An object of density 50 gcm-3 and mass 500 g is immersed in a liquid of density 1.8 gcm-3
(a) the volume of the liquid displaced.
(b) the mass of the liquid displaced.
(c) the buoyant force experienced by the object.

9. Water flows through a horizontal

tube as shown in figure.
a) Mark the water levels at X, Y
and Z on the figure.

b) Compare the velocity of water

flowing from X, Y to Z. X Y Z
Water flows

c) Explain your answer in (b).

10. Figure 1(a) shows a load suspended by a
spring balance in air whereas Figure 1(b) 40 N
shows the same load immersed in water.
100 N

a) the apparent weight of the load.
b) the apparent loss in weight of the load.
c) the mass of water displaced.


(a) (b)


Diagram 11.1

Diagram 11.1 shows a barge used to transport goods from fresh water port to the ship
anchored away from the seaside.

Using suitable physics concepts, explain the required modification needed in designing a
barge that can carry more and heavier goods, move faster and safe in fresh and salt water.

You can emphasize on the following aspects in your modification;

i. material used
ii. plimsoll line
iii. shape and size of the barge
[10 marks]

Modification Explanation

Aryabhata gave the world the digit 0 (Zero) for

which he became immortal. He was an intellectual
prodigy who could formulate the method of
calculating the motion of planets and predict the
time of. occurrence of eclipses.
(476-550 A.D.)