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Problem Solutions

1. A standard basketball (mass = 624 grams; 24.3 cm in diameter) is held fully under water.
Calculate the buoyant force and weight. When released, does the ball sink to the bottom or float
to the surface? If it floats, what percentage of it is sticking out of the water? If it sinks, what is
the normal force, FN with which it sits on the bottom of the pool?
The weight of the ball is

To calculate the buoyancy, we need the volume of displaced water, which is the volume of the
ball because it is being held completely submerged.

The buoyant force is equal to the weight of that volume of water.

That's a lot stronger than the 6.1N downward pull of gravity, so the ball will rise to the surface
when released. The density of the ball is

which is 8.3% the density of water. The ball will therefore be floating with 8.3% of its volume
below the level of the surface, and 91.7% sticking out of the water.

2. Six objects (A-F) are in a liquid, as shown. None of them are moving. Arrange them in order of
density, from lowest to highest.

SOLUTION: The more of an object's volume is above the water surface, the less dense it is.
Object B must therefore be the least dense, followed by D, A, and F. Object E is next, because it is
neutrally buoyant and equal in density to the liquid. Object C is negatively buoyant because it is
more dense than the fluid. Full answer to the question: B, D, A, F, E, C.
3. Water ice has a density of 0.91 g/cm³, so it will float in liquid water. Imagine you have a cube
of ice, 10 cm on a side. (a) What is the cube's weight? (b) What volume of liquid water must be
displaced in order to support the floating cube? (c) How much of the cube is under the surface
of the water?
(a) The cube's weight is

(b) The buoyant force must equal the cube's weight. Take the equation for buoyant force, solve
it for Vdf, and plug in the numbers.

(c) The volume of the cube itself is 0.001m³, so the percentage under the surface is...
This detailed calculation confirms our rule-of-thumb that the ratio of an object submerged is
the same as the ratio of its density to that of the fluid in which it is immersed. This also confirms
the old adage that when you see an iceberg floating in the ocean, it really is "just the tip of the

4. You have a block of a mystery material, 12 cm long, 11 cm wide and 3.5 cm thick. Its mass is
1155 grams.
(a) What is its density? 2.5 g/cm³ or 2500 kg/m³
(b) Will it float in a tank of water, or sink? It's more dense than the water, so it's gonna sink!
(c) If it floats, what percentage of the object will be sticking out above the water? If it sinks,
what will be the normal force it presses against the bottom of the tank? When the block sits on
the bottom of the tank, there are 3 forces acting on it: gravity (a.k.a. weight, downwards),
buoyancy (upwards) and the normal force (upwards). The block is in equilibrium (FNET=0) so
the magnitude of upwards forces must equal the downwards force of gravity. In other words,
Fg= FB+ FN
The weight, Fg= m g = 1.155 kg * 9.8 N/kg = 11.3 N
The buoyant force, FB= density of fluid * volume * g = 4.5 N
Therefore, the normal force FN= 6.8 N
(d) Repeat parts b and c, only instead of water, the tank is full of mercury. The object is less
dense than mercury (13.6 g/cm³), so the object will float in mercury. The ratio of their
densities, is 2.5/13.6 = 0.18. So 18% of the object is below the surface of the mercury, meaning
that 82% must be sticking up above the surface.

A floating object displaces 0.6 m3 of water. Calculate the buoyant force on the object and the weight of the object.

8. According to Archimedes' principle the buoyant force is equal to the weight of the displaced fluid. We know the
volume of fluid displaced, so we can calculate the mass of the displaced fluid by the second method used to solve
Problem 5.
3 3
m = (1000 kg / m ) (0.6 m )
m = 600 kg
The weight is calculated as the product of mass times the acceleration due to gravity as
wt = m g
wt = (600 kg) (9.8 m / s )
wt = 5880 N
The buoyant force is equal to the weight of the displaced fluid, so the buoyant force is 5880 N. Because the problem
stated that the object was floating, the buoyant force must be equal to the weight of the object. Therefore the
weight of the object is also 5880 N.
A pipe of cross sectional area 80 cm2 has a constriction where the area is reduced to 20 cm2. If the velocity of the
fluid in the larger area is 0.3 m / s what is the velocity of the fluid in the constricted region?
Problem Example 1
An object weighs 36 g in air and has a volume of 8.0 cm3. What will be its apparent weight when immersed in

When immersed in water, the object is buoyed up by the mass of the water it displaces, which of course is the mass
of 8 cm3 of water. Taking the density of water as unity, the upward (buoyancy) force is just 8 g.

The apparent weight will be (36 g) – (8 g) = 28 g.

Problem Example 2
A balloon having a volume of 5.000 L is placed on a sensitive balance which registers a weight of 2.833 g. What is
the "true weight" of the balloon if the density of the air is 1.294 g L–1?
The mass of air displaced by the balloon exerts a buoyancy force of
(5.000 L) / (1.294 g L –1) = 3.860 g. Thus the true weight of the balloon is this much greater than the apparant
(2.833 + 3.860) g = 6.69 g.
Problem Example 3
A piece of metal weighs 9.25 g in air, 8.20 g in water, and 8.36 g when immersed in gasoline.
a) What is the density of the metal?
b) What is the density of the gasoline?

When immersed in water, the metal object displaces (9.25 – 8.20) g = 1.05 g of water whose volume is (1.05 g) /
(1.00 g cm–3) = 1.05 cm3. The density of the metal is thus (9.25 g) / (1.05 cm3) = 8.81 g cm–3.

The metal object displaces (9.25 - 8.36) g = 0.89 g of gasoline, whose density must therefore be (0.89 g) /
(1.05 cm3) = 0.85 g cm–3.

Top of Form

Bottom of Form
Example 1
The key to many buoyancy problems is to treat the buoyant force like all the other forces we've dealt with so far.
What's the first step? Draw a free-body diagram.
A basketball floats in a bathtub of water. The ball has a mass of 0.5 kg and a diameter of 22 cm.
(a) What is the buoyant force?
(b) What is the volume of water displaced by the ball?
(c) What is the average density of the basketball?
(a) To find the buoyant force, simply draw a free-body diagram. The force of gravity is balanced by the buoyant
ΣF = ma
Fb - mg = 0
Fb = mg = 4.9 N
(b) By Archimedes' principle, the buoyant force is equal to the weight of fluid displaced.
Fb = ρVdispg
Vdisp= Fb/ρg = 4.9/(1000*9.8) = 5 x 10-4 m3
(c) To find the density of the ball, we need to determine its volume. The volume of a sphere is:
V = (4/3)πr3
With r = 0.11 m, we get:
volume of basketball = V = 5.58 x 10-3 m3
The density is mass divided by volume:
ρ = m/V = 0.5 / 5.58 x 10-3 = 90 kg/m3
Another way to find density is to use the volume of displaced fluid. For a floating object, the weight of the object
equals the buoyant force, which equals the weight of the displaced fluid.
mg = Fb = ρfluid Vdisp g
m = ρobject V, so:
ρobject V = ρfluid Vdisp
Factors of g cancelled. Re-arranging this gives, for a floating object:
ρobject / ρfluid = Vdisp/V