David O. Adetitun

Science students would be familiar with the “Archimedes’ principle” today. That principle can be modified into the “law of floatation” or “law of buoyancy”. How did the principle and law come about? Was it deliberate or accidental?

Archimedes lived in one of the most influential cities of the ancient world called Syracuse. Archimedes together with other scientists and researchers of his time were charged with proving that a new crown made for Hieron, the king of Syracuse, was not pure gold without doing any damage to the crown? Another version said he was to find out the principle or explanation that will support the floating of the “Syracusia”, a massive ship that was to be constructed and presented as a gift to Egypt.

Archimedes was sitting in a bath house one day wondering how a heavy object can float. He was inspired that an object proportionally immersed in a fluid will displace an amount of water equal to its own weight. He forgot that he was naked in the bathroom and ran to the street en route to the Kings palace shouting “Eureka!”, “Eureka!” (“I have it!” in Greek).

This logic is critical in the construction of ships. Heavy steel materials are placed at the base of the sheep which can displace a large volume of water. To the effect that whatever the other items used in constructing the ship it will not sink still but float.

Applications of Archimedes’ principle

When a glass is filled to capacity with water and ice cubes are then introduced to it, what happens? In kike manner as the water over flowed the edge when Archimedes entered his bathtub, the water in the glass will spill over when ice cubes are added to it. If the water that spilled out were weighed, it would equal the upthrust on the object. From the upthrust or upward force, the volume or average density of the object can be determined. 

Archimedes determined that the crown he was investigating at the time was impure gold because of the volume of the water displaced. This was arrived at because the volume was different due the various densities of the metals. Additionally, this principle is utilized in a large variety of scientific research subjects including medical, engineering, entomology, engineering, and geology. Copious articles exist on the use of Archimedes’ principle in bone volumes/densities, submarines, water-walking bugs and geology.

Archimedes’ principle summary: upward force= weight of liquid displaced

MNEUMONIC= Up wold (wold = weight of liquid displaced)

Bottom line: You can make a discovery at any time and in any place.

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