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Why does a steel (iron alloy) ship float on water, when the density of iron (7.86 g/cm^3) is greater than the density of water?
- Robin (age 18)
Austin, TX USA
Great question! The reason that a steel boat can float is because
the boat isn't made entirely of steel. If you were to put a solid steel
boat in the water, it would definitely sink, but the air inside the
boat makes its total density much lower. Of course, if there were not
enough air, and the boat sat too low in the water, some of the water
could seep in over the top, taking the place of some of the air and
making the total density higher. This is why boats will sink if they
are tipped to the side.
(republished on 07/31/06)
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