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Ever wonder how Magnificent Iron Cruise Ships Float?
Have you ever been on a cruise ship and wondered "How do these iron
cruise ships float?"? I'm sure that most of us have been washing dishes and
had a metal pie plate or pan float in the water. The answer is surprising
simple. The principle of how this works dates back to Archimedes, about 200
B.C. Because nobody really believed him, boats and ships were made of wood
until a couple of centuries ago. So……..how does an iron ship float?
The quick response is floatation or the buoyant force. If you were to place
a block of wood in a bucket of water, it will float with very few exceptions
and the water level in the bucket will rise. The reason? The block sinks
into the water slightly. The weight of the block is less than the weight of
the water that was moved out of the way (causing the water level to rise). A
block of steel would sink to the bottom again raising the water level. In
this case the water that has been displaced weighs less that the steel
block. Now come the interesting part of how iron ships float.
If you take that same small block of steel and flatten it to a very thin
sheet and form it into a hollow box, magically it floats! Why? We spoke
earlier of the weight of the water verses the weight of the steel. It's
really more accurate to say that the density of the steel is greater than
that of water. If that is indeed the case, then how does an iron ship float?
Density is calculated by dividing the weight divided by the volume of an
object. The reason that a metal pie plate floats is because the total weight
of the plate itself AND the air that fills it divided by its total volume is
less dense than the water below it. It's the same principle that makes a
helium balloon float in the air. The density of the balloon and the helium
combines is less that the density of the air. So how does the magnificent
iron cruise ship that you're strolling the decks of float?
The total weight of all of the components of the cruise ship - the iron
hull, engines, furniture, food, walls, floors, AND people - divided by the
total volume is actually less than the density of the water. University
students in the United States actually design CONCRETE boats (actually
canoes) and race them against each other.
How then would a ship sink? Take the infamous Titanic for example. Her
mammoth size might lead one to believe that she would sink. But, because her
density as described above was less that the water she elegantly left port
in England. Her demise was caused not by an engineering blunder, but by a
hole ripped in her side by an iceberg. For over two hours, water poured into
the hull of the ship displacing the air (one of the least dense of the
materials making up the over-all density of the ship). When sufficient air
was removed from the volume of the ship and replaced with the water, the
over-all density of the ship became greater than the ocean water. Now, had
the engineering of the ship been such that the compartments where the hole
had been ripped in the side of the ship could have been contained and water
could not have passed beyond those compartments, Titanic may still be
I hope that some light has been shone on the question of how iron ships
float. The magnificent and majestic cruise ships today are safer, bigger,
and more entertaining that ever. One needs not ponder the question of
whether or how these monsters float. Just get on board and ENJOY!
Browse through some of the other informative cruise pages. You may even find
a discount cruise or two to your liking. Then book the cruise of your dreams
aboard a fabulous cruise ship on-line and get excited!.
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