MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Why do people/items get sucked beneath the water with a sinking ship?

Date: Tue Feb 29 13:27:23 2000
Posted By: Dennis K. Van Gemert, Engineer/Scientist, Expendable Launch Systems
Area of science: Physics
ID: 946517901.Ph

When a ship, or any other object sinks, it creates a vacuum environment behind it. This is due to the fluid being pushed aside by the object; therefore, the pressure behind the object is less than the surrounding pressure. As fluid (water) rushes in to fill the void, people and items in that area are pulled-in with it. The area affected by this occurrence is proportional to the water displaced and the rate of decent of the sinking object. Whether or not a person can escape from the suction, depends on the strength of the individual relative to the strength of the suction. You will be sucked down until the pressure is equalized. You would probably be disoriented and confused as to where the surface is located if the object sinking is quite large. Drowning is probable.


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