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Q & A: floating and sinking in different fluids

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
How can something float in one fluid but not in another fluid?
- John Wayde
Ohio
A:
An object will float in a fluid if its average density is less than that of the fluid. An ice cube will float in water but will sink in ethanol; ice is only a tiny bit less dense than water, and the ethanol is less dense still. Oil too is less dense than water and some things which float in water will sink in oil.

Dissolving lots of salt in water will make it more dense, allowing more different kinds of things to float in it which would otherwise sink.

Tom

(published on 10/22/2007)

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