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Archimedes Principle

A body immersed wholly or partially in fluid (Liquid or

gas) experiences an up thrust force (buoyant force)
equal to the weight of the fluid displaced
Suppose a liquid cylinder of volume (VL) in a resting liquid of density
……… The cylinder is subjected by 2 forces
i. The horizontal forces in all directions cancel each other.
ii. The vertical forces:
a) Its weight WL = mg = ρLgVL ………… (1
b) Up thrust force on the cylinder which results from difference in
pressure on both bases of the cylinder
P (upper surface) = Pa + ρgh1
P (lower surface) = Pa + ρgh2
rP = ρgh
∴ Fb = rP X A = ρgh X A
∴ Fb = ρLgVimmersed ………………………………………… (2)
From 1 & 2
Fb = the weight of liquid displaced.

Buoyancy arises from the fact that fluid pressure increases with depth
and from the fact that the increased pressure is exerted in all directions
so that there is an unbalanced upward force on the bottom of a
submerged object.
Since the "water ball" at left is exactly supported by the difference in
pressure and the solid object at right experiences exactly the same
pressure environment, it follows that the buoyant force on the solid object
is equal to the weight of the water displaced.
Equal Volumes Feel Equal Buoyant Forces
Suppose you had equal sized balls of cork, aluminum and lead, with
respective specific gravities of 0.2, 2.7, and 11.3. If the volume of each
is 10 cubic centimeters then their masses are 2, 27, and 113 gm.

Each would displace 10 grams of water, yielding apparent masses of -8

(the cork would accelerate upward), 17 and 103 grams respectively.
The behavior of the three balls would certainly be different upon release
from rest in the water. The cork would bob up, the aluminum would
sink, and the lead would sink more rapidly. But the buoyant force on
each is the same because of identical pressure environments and equal
water displacement. The difference in behavior comes from the
comparison of that buoyant force with the weight of the object.
• Floating object:
The floating object is in equilibrium (acceleration a = 0), so the
total force acting must be zero. Gravity still acts on the object, so
there must be an equal force upwards, exerted on the floating
object by the water.
• Submerged object:
When an object is underwater, we know that it doesn't feel as
heavy. A force exerted on it by the water reduces its apparent
weight. If an object is completely submerged, the displaced volume
of water is equal to the volume of the object. The buoyancy force
will reduce the apparent weight of the object.
Floating object
FB = ρfluid
Vdisplaced g

Submerged object

FB = ρfluid Vobject g
“The magnitude of the buoyancy force is equal to the
weight of the displaced fluid”

Relative density of an object = mass of object...……
Mass of same
volume of water
The concept of relative density comes by comparing the
density of an object to the density of water.
It is calculated by weighing the object in air and then
placing it in water. The amount of water that has been
displaced when the object was placed in it is then
This comparison when calculated, gives the relative
density of the object.
The relative density of liquid measures:
Mass of liquid
mass of equal volume of water
Apparent loss in weight of object in liquid
Apparent loss in weight of object in water
An object immersed in meth [methanol] will experience
less up thrust on it than if it was immersed in water. It is
due to the fact that meths is less dense than water so the
meth’s displaced by the object weighs less than the same
volumes of water yet the volume displaced by it is
greater than the volume displaced by water. This is again,
due to the reason that meths is less dense than water
therefore less heavier, so more volume of it will make for
e.g., a 2N weight than the volume of 2N of water.
Hence, to displace this larger volume of meths the object
floats lower in meth than in water.
By comparing the density of an object with that of the
fluid it is to be immersed in, it can be found whether it
will float or sink in that fluid. The object will only float if
its density is same or less than that of the fluid.
For e.g.:
• Wood, petrol and ice will float in water
• Hot water will float up in cold water
• Hydrogen gas will float upwards in air
• Hot air will float upwards in cold air
• Steel will float in liquid mercury but sink in water
• Archimedes' principle applies to all objects immersed
in liquid regardless of whether they are floating or
• The Law of flotation, however, only applies to floating

Both the Law and the Principle are concerned with weight
of objects and fluids. However, when solving problems,
one is often dealing with volumes. The connection
between the weight of a substance and its volume is:
Mass = volume x density
Weight = mass x g
|Weight = volume x density x g|
A floating object displaces its own weight of the fluid in
which it floats.
Consider a container full of water:
The volume of water is V = A×h, so the mass of water is m = ρV = ρA h,
and the weight of the water is mg = ρg A h downwards. The weight of
the water is the force exerted by the water on the bottom of the
container. This force is spread out over the whole surface area of the
We call the force divided by the area the pressure:

p F

The SI unit of pressure is the Pascal (Pa), which is a Newton per square
meter (N/m2).