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Iron and plumbum (lead) on a balance in air and water

  1. Dec 28, 2012 #1
    On the flat bottom of an aquarium is an old fashioned balance. On one scale of the balance is a piece of plumbum, on the other side is a piece of iron. The scales are exactly in balance.
    Now we let the aquarium fill slowly with water, until the entire balance is under water. What happens now:
    A The scale with plumbum drops
    B The scale with iron drops
    C The scales remain in balance
     
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  3. Dec 28, 2012 #2

    tiny-tim

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    welcome to pf!

    hi martijn-arts! welcome to pf! :smile:

    (btw, the ancient romans called it "plumbum", but we call it "lead" :wink:)

    tell us what you think (and why), and then we'll comment! :smile:
     
  4. Dec 28, 2012 #3
    Re: Iron and plumbum on a balance in air and water

    Thanks!

    I think lead because of the difference in kg/dm^3 of lead and iron and that of water.
    Lead => 11.3 kg/dm^3
    Iron => 7.86 kg/dm^3

    This is both in air. Water is 0.998 kg/dm^3

    Am I on the right track?
     
  5. Dec 28, 2012 #4
    Re: Iron and plumbum on a balance in air and water

    By the way, this should be the perfect question for you, looking at your profile picture :)
     
  6. Dec 28, 2012 #5

    tiny-tim

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    hi martijn-arts! :smile:
    yes, i used to have one of those in my little bowl …

    it's one of the reasons i eventually studied fishics! :wink:
    yes, it's certainly the density that makes the difference

    maybe you're right and maybe you're wrong …

    what is your laws-of-physics reason for saying that the greater density should push the scale down more? :smile:
     
  7. Dec 28, 2012 #6
    Re: Iron and plumbum on a balance in air and water

    That's where I got stuck and my knowledge was too old (it's been 10 years)
     
  8. Dec 28, 2012 #7

    tiny-tim

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    aha! :biggrin:

    ok, apply the principles of buoyancy

    what are the forces on the lead (if it isn't moving), and so what is the force the lead exerts on the scale? :smile:
     
  9. Dec 28, 2012 #8
    Re: Iron and plumbum on a balance in air and water

    To be honest: I do not really understand buoyancy because of my knowledge of English.

    Would you please be so kind to give the right answer with the reason
     
  10. Dec 28, 2012 #9

    tiny-tim

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    sorry, martijn-arts, on this forum we don't just give the answer

    look up "bouyancy" (or "bouyant force") in wikipedia or the pf library

    the important thing is that there is an extra force on the lead (the bouyant force), which acts through the centre of gravity of the displaced water
     
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