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University Physics Volume 1

Conceptual Questions

University Physics Volume 1Conceptual Questions

Conceptual Questions

14.1 Fluids, Density, and Pressure


Which of the following substances are fluids at room temperature and atmospheric pressure: air, mercury, water, glass?


Why are gases easier to compress than liquids and solids?


Explain how the density of air varies with altitude.


The image shows a glass of ice water filled to the brim. Will the water overflow when the ice melts? Explain your answer.

A photo of a glass of ice water filled to the brim.

How is pressure related to the sharpness of a knife and its ability to cut?


Why is a force exerted by a static fluid on a surface always perpendicular to the surface?


Imagine that in a remote location near the North Pole, a chunk of ice floats in a lake. Next to the lake, a glacier with the same volume as the floating ice sits on land. If both chunks of ice should melt due to rising global temperatures, and the melted ice all goes into the lake, which one would cause the level of the lake to rise the most? Explain.


In ballet, dancing en pointe (on the tips of the toes) is much harder on the toes than normal dancing or walking. Explain why, in terms of pressure.


Atmospheric pressure exerts a large force (equal to the weight of the atmosphere above your body—about 10 tons) on the top of your body when you are lying on the beach sunbathing. Why are you able to get up?


Why does atmospheric pressure decrease more rapidly than linearly with altitude?


The image shows how sandbags placed around a leak outside a river levee can effectively stop the flow of water under the levee. Explain how the small amount of water inside the column of sandbags is able to balance the much larger body of water behind the levee.

A schematic drawing of sandbags placed around a leak outside of a river levee. The height of the stack of sandbags is identical to the height of the levee and exceeds the maximum level of water in the flooding river.

Is there a net force on a dam due to atmospheric pressure? Explain your answer.


Does atmospheric pressure add to the gas pressure in a rigid tank? In a toy balloon? When, in general, does atmospheric pressure not affect the total pressure in a fluid?


You can break a strong wine bottle by pounding a cork into it with your fist, but the cork must press directly against the liquid filling the bottle—there can be no air between the cork and liquid. Explain why the bottle breaks only if there is no air between the cork and liquid.

14.2 Measuring Pressure


Explain why the fluid reaches equal levels on either side of a manometer if both sides are open to the atmosphere, even if the tubes are of different diameters.

14.3 Pascal's Principle and Hydraulics


Suppose the master cylinder in a hydraulic system is at a greater height than the cylinder it is controlling. Explain how this will affect the force produced at the cylinder that is being controlled.

14.4 Archimedes’ Principle and Buoyancy


More force is required to pull the plug in a full bathtub than when it is empty. Does this contradict Archimedes’ principle? Explain your answer.


Do fluids exert buoyant forces in a “weightless” environment, such as in the space shuttle? Explain your answer.


Will the same ship float higher in salt water than in freshwater? Explain your answer.


Marbles dropped into a partially filled bathtub sink to the bottom. Part of their weight is supported by buoyant force, yet the downward force on the bottom of the tub increases by exactly the weight of the marbles. Explain why.

14.5 Fluid Dynamics


Many figures in the text show streamlines. Explain why fluid velocity is greatest where streamlines are closest together. (Hint: Consider the relationship between fluid velocity and the cross-sectional area through which the fluid flows.)

14.6 Bernoulli’s Equation


You can squirt water from a garden hose a considerably greater distance by partially covering the opening with your thumb. Explain how this works.


Water is shot nearly vertically upward in a decorative fountain and the stream is observed to broaden as it rises. Conversely, a stream of water falling straight down from a faucet narrows. Explain why.


Look back to Figure 14.29. Answer the following two questions. Why is popo less than atmospheric? Why is popo greater than pipi?


A tube with a narrow segment designed to enhance entrainment is called a Venturi, such as shown below. Venturis are very commonly used in carburetors and aspirators. How does this structure bolster entrainment?

Figure is a drawing of a tube with a narrow segment labeled as a venture construction. Additional small connection is made at the constriction and allows entrained fluid to enter fluid flow.

Some chimney pipes have a T-shape, with a crosspiece on top that helps draw up gases whenever there is even a slight breeze. Explain how this works in terms of Bernoulli’s principle.


Is there a limit to the height to which an entrainment device can raise a fluid? Explain your answer.


Why is it preferable for airplanes to take off into the wind rather than with the wind?


Roofs are sometimes pushed off vertically during a tropical cyclone, and buildings sometimes explode outward when hit by a tornado. Use Bernoulli’s principle to explain these phenomena.


It is dangerous to stand close to railroad tracks when a rapidly moving commuter train passes. Explain why atmospheric pressure would push you toward the moving train.


Water pressure inside a hose nozzle can be less than atmospheric pressure due to the Bernoulli effect. Explain in terms of energy how the water can emerge from the nozzle against the opposing atmospheric pressure.


David rolled down the window on his car while driving on the freeway. An empty plastic bag on the floor promptly flew out the window. Explain why.


Based on Bernoulli’s equation, what are three forms of energy in a fluid? (Note that these forms are conservative, unlike heat transfer and other dissipative forms not included in Bernoulli’s equation.)


The old rubber boot shown below has two leaks. To what maximum height can the water squirt from Leak 1? How does the velocity of water emerging from Leak 2 differ from that of Leak 1? Explain your responses in terms of energy.

Figure is a drawing of a boot with two leaks located at the same height. Leak 1 points up while leak two points horizontally.

Water pressure inside a hose nozzle can be less than atmospheric pressure due to the Bernoulli effect. Explain in terms of energy how the water can emerge from the nozzle against the opposing atmospheric pressure.

14.7 Viscosity and Turbulence


Explain why the viscosity of a liquid decreases with temperature, that is, how might an increase in temperature reduce the effects of cohesive forces in a liquid? Also explain why the viscosity of a gas increases with temperature, that is, how does increased gas temperature create more collisions between atoms and molecules?


When paddling a canoe upstream, it is wisest to travel as near to the shore as possible. When canoeing downstream, it is generally better to stay near the middle. Explain why.


Plumbing usually includes air-filled tubes near water faucets (see the following figure). Explain why they are needed and how they work.

Figure is the schematic drawing of few small water lines leading to the individual houses that merge into the main water line.

Doppler ultrasound can be used to measure the speed of blood in the body. If there is a partial constriction of an artery, where would you expect blood speed to be greatest: at or after the constriction? What are the two distinct causes of higher resistance in the constriction?


Sink drains often have a device such as that shown below to help speed the flow of water. How does this work?

Figure is the schematic drawing of device that aligns the water into streams. Device has a circular shape and is separated into four segments.
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