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Abstract

An experiment was designed and conducted to confirm Archimedes’ theory which states that an object will float in water providing its mass is equal to or less than the volume of water it displaces. The second objective of the experiment was to produce a value for water density.

It was expected that when additional mass was added to a floating vessel, it would displace more fluid and the increasing submerged volume of water could be measured, and a value for water density could be calculated using the equation .

The density of pure water was assumed to measure 1000 kg/m³ at 4°C however it was also assumed that the tap water used in the experiment would produce slightly different results.

The experiment was conducted using everyday household objects. Error was calculated for all values necessary to calculate the density of fresh water.

A final value for the density of the water used was calculated as 1003.86±264.43kg/m³. Although the value of density is similar to the assumed value for freshwater, the margin for error is large and contributory factors for this are discussed.

Introduction

Archimedes was a Greek physicist and mathematician who lived between 287BC and 212BC. He is accredited with advances in physics, engineering and mechanics and some of his theories are still in use today.

One of his theories, commonly referred to as the Archimedes’ Principle states that an object immersed in fluid displaces a volume of water equal to its own mass. It can also be stated that an object’s buoyancy force is equal to the weight of displaced fluid.

Using common household objects, an experiment was conducted to test Archimedes’ principle and confirm the accepted value for fresh water of 1000kg/m³. An equation was provided to support this experiment; where is equal to the total mass added to a vessel and therefore also equal to the mass of the fluid displaced. If correct, the derived value for water density should be close

References: Acott, C., 1999. Rubicon Research Repository. [Online] Available at: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/xmlui/bitstream/handle/123456789/5990/SPUMS_V29N1_10.pdf?sequence=1 [Accessed 14 December 2011]. CSG Network, 2004. [Online] Available at: http://www.csgnetwork.com/waterinformation.html [Accessed 14 December 2011].