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Example question on pressure of liquids

  1. Mar 16, 2012 #1
    This question seemed a bit abstract to me, maybe some of you could come up with an answer with explanation?

    When designing a dam should one consider the horizontal extent of the water behind the dam or the vertical depth of the water? Justify your answer.

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2012 #2
    Hi Jayadds,

    Do you mean the length of the dam wall?
  4. Mar 16, 2012 #3
    Yes, I mean the length of the dam wall as well as the thickness.
  5. Mar 16, 2012 #4
    I'm not an expert in this field but according to my limited knowledge, the length of the wall does matter because the total force on the wall is proportional to area and the area is proportional to the wall length as well as to the water depth ( thickness). But a more detailed explanation is about stress and strain of the wall under the forces. Long dams are build oval-shaped or in other curved surfaces to resist the forces.
  6. Mar 16, 2012 #5


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    hi jayadds! :smile:
    i think that means, how far away the water extends from the dam :wink:
  7. Mar 16, 2012 #6
    Depth determines pressure, not volume. This means that whether you're at the bottom of the ocean or at the bottom of a narrow well, as long as the water depth is the same, the pressure and force on you will also be the same.
  8. Mar 16, 2012 #7


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    And to answer the original question with another, just think about it a bit. What affects the pressure, how deep you are or how much water you have around you?
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