Steph's Friend

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Paper Clip Floating On Water

Can a paper clip float on water? I've read from a book that it can. So today, I went to try it out. The stuff needed for this simple experiment is simple. All you need are:

1. A simple paper clip.
2. A plastic container to store water.
3. A pair of forceps to help you place the paper clip (optional).
4. Some tissue paper for drying the clip (optional).


My first attempt of placing the paper clip on the water surface failed. It sank.


Then I thought of another method of placing the paper clip on the water surface. Why not use your hands? You place the clip on your finger like this, and gently lower it down on the water surface.


Voila! It floats!


The excitement! I decided to extend my experiment a little further by "opening" up the clip. I wanted to see if the "enclosed area" of the clip affects it's ability to float. "Enclosed area" is defined as the surface area enclosed within the frame of the clip.


Yup, it works. How about opening it up a little more?


It still works. But is there a limit for the "enclosed area" before the clip sinks?


Your guess is as good as mine.

So from this experiment, I can say that the tendency of the clip to float is inversely proportional to the size of the clips "enclosed area".

Care to explain why the clip floats?

Aw, fine, here's the answer.

It floats because of surface tension where the water molecules have intermolecular bonds holding them together like a sheet of paper. That's why you see a depression around the object that floats on it. The depression is due to the weight of the object on the "skin". In fact, it's because of surface tension that stick insects are able to glide across water surfaces.

Am I wrong? Hopefully not :)


Technorati   Digg!   Del.icio.us   Reddit   Furl   Google   Yahoo

7 Comments:

Blogger deadmanblogging said...

I'm gonna say it has something to do with the oil on your hands too. ;)

11:12 AM, May 04, 2006  
Blogger Steph said...

Oil does create a thin film above the water surface because of it's insolubility in water. Since the surface tension of oil is less than water, I guess this won't be of much help in helping the clip to float.

Interesting observation :)

1:05 PM, May 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why does a paper clip float please answer as soon as possible

9:40 AM, September 12, 2006  
Blogger Steph said...

Well, the answer is in the post itself:

It floats because of surface tension where the water molecules have intermolecular bonds holding them together like a sheet of paper. That's why you see a depression around the object that floats on it. The depression is due to the weight of the object on the "skin".

Hope this answers your question Anonymous :)

5:43 PM, September 12, 2006  
Anonymous kevin H said...

you can also use paper and let the paper sink, but the paper clip won't.! By the way i will like to use this as a exparament at my school will you let me? plz:)

9:03 AM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, this is a very interesting experiment. I am curious to find out whether tissue paper alter surface tension. why and how?:)

9:09 PM, April 22, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, can you answer this asap!

If pushed too hard, the paper clip once again sinks. What has happened to the surface tension now?

4:29 PM, October 11, 2010  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home