# PHYS 1405 Conceptual Physics I Laboratory # 8 Density and Buoyancy. Investigation: How can we identify a substance by figuring out its density?

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1 PHYS 1405 Conceptual Physics I Laboratory # 8 Density and Buoyancy Investigation: How can we identify a substance by figuring out its density? What to measure: Volume, mass. Measuring devices: Calipers, Triple-beam Balances Calculations: Volume, Density, Buoyant Force INTRODUCTION In this experiment we shall investigate density. Density is a measure of how tightly packed material is in an object. The density of an object depends on two things: the mass of the object (how much material there is in an object) and its volume (how much space it takes up). If we increase the mass of an object without increasing its volume, the density rises. If we increase the volume of an object without changing its mass, density goes down. We can express this relationship with an equation: Density = M / V Note that the units of density will be kg / m 3 (mass/volume). We often measure volume in liters or milliliters (ml). One milliliter is the volume of a cube 1 cm (0.01 m) on a side, so 1 ml = 1 cm 3 = m 3. Another way to put that is 1 m 3 = 1,000,000 ml The standard for density is pure water, which is defined to have a density of 1000 kg / m 3. We shall check the accuracy of this definition in the first part of this experiment.

3 If an object has a regular shape, we can easily compute its volume. Then we can measure the mass, and figure out the density. For this part of the experiment, you will use the objects set out before you, labeled A through F. For each cylinder, use the calipers to determine the diameter of the cylinder and the height. Half of that diameter is the radius of the cylinder, and the volume can be calculated using the formula: V = (h)( R 2 ) The other objects are rectangular in shape, and therefore their volumes are equal to V = length x width x height Measure the mass of each object, then calculate the density of each object. Remember to convert every distance you measure into meters! The volume numbers that you get will be very small, since a cubic meter is very big, so use as many decimal places as possible. Based on the information in your book and this lab, predict what the object is made of. Create a data table with the following columns: volume, mass, density, material prediction. Take care to make sure you use the right units for all calculations! Object Volume (m 3 ) Mass Density (kg / m 3 ) Material Prediction WARNING: If you don t get a density figure between about 50 kg / m 3 and about 25,000 kg / m 3, you have mis-measured or miscalculated! Part 3: Archimedes Principle and the Buoyant Force So, how do you find the density of something without a regular shape? This question was answered by the ancient Greek philosopher Archimedes, who discovered that when an object is submerged in a container of water, the water level will rise by an amount equal to the object s volume. We say that the submerged object will displace an amount of water equal to its volume.

4 If you immerse an object in water suspended by a string, three forces are acting on the object. As always, gravity pulls the object down (negative) with a force equal to m obj g. The string pulls up (positive) with a force T. Finally, the water pushes up (positive) on the object, with a buoyant force F B. If the object is suspended in the water, it is in equilibrium, and the forces are in balance: F = T - W obj + F B = 0 Therfore F B = W obj - T How do we measure the tension in the string? If we tie the string to the bottom of the pan of a balance, it will pull the pan down, just as if we had set an object on the pan. This will register as a weight, on the scale. We can read off the balance the mass that would cause this weight. If the weight is out of water, the tension in the string is equal to the true weight of the object: If F B = 0, then T = W obj = m obj g Question 3: If you submerge an object in water while it is suspended from a scale, will the mass reading on the scale be less than, greater than, or equal to, the reading out of water? Justify your answer in terms of forces, and test your prediction with one of the square weights. When an object is suspended in water from a scale, the reading on the scale will be different from the reading out of water. We can call this a false weight, corresponding to a false mass reading on the scale. Remember that this false mass is the same as the tension in the string: T = W false = m false g So when the object is in water, we can say F B = W obj T = m true g - m false g

5 This formula allows us to measure the size of the Buoyant Force acting on the submerged object, simply by measuring its mass in and out of water. We can do this for the objects we measured the densities of earlier. Fill a beaker mostly full of water. Suspend one of the rectangular objects by the bottom of the triple-beam balance. Record the true mass of the object. Then carefully submerge the object in the water. Make sure it is totally immersed, and not touching the bottom of the beaker. Determine and record the false mass (mass while submerged in water) of the object. Use these mass figures to find the size of the buoyant force each object feels. We call this the measured buoyant force. Record the true mass, the false mass, and the measured buoyant force for each object in a data table. Object True Mass False Mass Measured Buoyant Question 4: Look at the size of the buoyant forces you found. Are some of them close to each other? What do these objects also have in common? In class, we had another formula for the buoyant force in water: F B = (Density water )V disp g. The volume of water displaced, V disp, is equal to the volume of the object, if the object is totally submerged. You calculated the volume of each object in the Part 2, so now you can get a calculated value for the buoyant force for each object. Assume a value of 1000 kg / m 3 for the density of water and a value of 9.8 m / s 2 for g, and calculate a value for the buoyant force felt by each object. Add a column to the data table you started above for this calculated buoyant force. Calculate the percentage difference between the measured and calculated buoyant force values for each object using the formula Percentage Difference = measured calculated calculated 100%

6 Object True Mass False Mass Measured Buoyant Calculated Buoyant % Difference Come and show me your numbers if you are getting percentage difference values greater than about 15%. Record these percentage differences in the fifth and last column of your data table. Question 5: Based on the percentage differences, do you think that dunking is a good way to measure buoyant force? Part 4: The Density of Irregular Objects Archimedes was given the task of determining if a crown was made of gold or not, without harming the crown. Archimedes knew that if he could determine the mass and volume of the crown, he could calculate the density of the crown, and tell if it was made of gold or not. But how to determine the volume of the irregularly-shaped crown? Archimedes just measured the water that spilled out of a container when the crown was placed into it, but we can be a little more accurate. We know how to measure the buoyant force felt by an object based on its mass in and out of water: F B = Weight out of water Weight in water = m true g - m false g We also know that the buoyant force felt by an object suspended in water depends on the object s volume: F B = (Density water ) V disp g. Turning this equation around, we get V disp = F B / (Density water g) Once we know volume, the density of the object can be found using the formula: Density = m true / V

7 You will have three rocks and two rings to work with. For each object, determine the true mass, and the false mass in water. Calculate the buoyant force each one feels. Use that buoyant force to find the volume of each object. Don t worry if it s a small number! Finally, calculate the density of each rock and ring. Create a data table with the following data: Object True mass False mass Buoyant Volume (m 3 ) Density (kg / m 3 ) Answer the following questions: Question 6: What is the average density of rock? Question 7: Which of the two rings contains more gold? Is either one made of pure gold? Defend your answer.

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