MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Why do people get drown in water?

Date: Thu Oct 1 13:37:44 1998
Posted By: Mark Friedman, Undergrad, Biology
Area of science: Physics
ID: 906536378.Ph

Great question! You are right that the key principle involved here is 
buoyancy.  Anytime we submerge an object under water, it displaces a 
certain amount of the water.  For example, if we place a bowling ball in a 
swimming pool, the ball pushes aside an amount of water equal to its 
volume.  Newton’s Law tells us that the water subsequently “pushes back” 
with a force equal to the weight of the displaced water.  This force is 
what we call the buoyant force, and equals the weight of the displaced 
water.  Therefore, whether or not an object sinks depends entirely on 
whether the object’s weight is greater than its buoyant force. 


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