How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 103

What is the buoyant force?
When you displace a volume of air and replace that volume with something else, the air around the volume still pushes on it as before. If that volume had remained air, then it would have just floated there, suspended by a force from the surrounding air. Now that the volume has been replaced by something else, it still experiences the same suspending force. That suspending force is the buoyant force. It's actually created by a slight imbalance in the pressures around the volume. The pressure at the bottom of the volume is slightly higher than on top, so the air exerts a net upward on the volume. This pressure imbalance is in turn created by gravity and the fact that the air near the ground must support the air above it against the force of gravity.

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