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16th December 2015

Recap: What do these words mean?

a push or a pull
Surface Area:
a 2-D space over a surface
a force acting over a given surface area
P = F/A

Units for Pressure, Force and Area

measured in Newtons (N)
measured in square metres (m2)
measured in Newtons per square metre (N/m2)
this is called a Pascal (Pa)

What is Pressure?
Pressure = Force Area
Recall that force is weight of an object
acting over a surface area and this causes
pressure. Hence;
Pressure = Weight Area

Units of Pressure
Pressure is measured in Pascals (Pa).
We sometimes see pressure being
measured in N/m2 or N/cm2
1 Pa is the same as 1N/m2

What is Pressure?
Any object that possesses weight, whether at
rest or not, exerts a pressure upon the surface
with which it is in contact.
The magnitude of the pressure exerted by an
object on a given surface is equal to its weight
acting in the direction perpendicular to that
surface, divided by the total surface area of
contact between the object and the surface.

Force of object acts perpendicular to

the surface area of contact

Sensible shoes?
The force (weight) of our body
pushing down will exert a
The surface area of our shoes in
contact with the ground will
affect the pressure.
These stiletto shoes will
concentrate the force over a
small area.
These shoes will give a larger
pressure and would not be
suitable for walking on soft
ground like sand.

Surface area

More sensible shoes?

These boots have a large surface area.
The weight of a person is spread out
over the larger surface area.

The pressure exerted by the person is

smaller than if they were wearing
stiletto shoes.
A small pressure means you will less
likely sink into soft ground.

Examples of where a large area is

needed to reduce pressure.
Caterpillar tracks on diggers and on tanks
Tyres on a tractor
Skis and snowboards

Examples of where a small area is

needed to increase the pressure

Kitchen knives
Drawing pins

How to Measure Pressure

Elastic Transducers
Bourdon Gauge
Electrical Pressure Transducers

With both legs of a U-tube
manometer open to the
atmosphere or subjected to the
same pressure, the liquid
maintains the same level in
each leg, establishing a zero

With a greater pressure
applied to the left side of a Utube manometer, the liquid
lowers in the left leg and
rises in the right leg.
The liquid moves until the
weight of the liquid, as
indicated by h, exactly
balances the pressure applied
at P2.

Measuring Pressure Bourdon Gauge

A Bourdon gauge uses a coiled tube, which, as it expands due to
pressure increase causes a rotation of an arm connected to the tube.

In 1849 the Bourdon tube pressure gauge was patented

in France by Eugene Bourdon.

What is Atmospheric Pressure?

Atmospheric pressure is the pressure exerted
by the weight of air in the atmosphere of Earth.
Gravity pulls the air molecules toward the
earth, giving them weight.
The weight of the air molecules all around us
over a given surface area is called the air
pressure or atmospheric pressure.

The air is made up of molecules.

Illustration of Atmospheric Pressure

Atmospheric Pressure is:
Weight of Air / Surface Area

Force = Weight of Air

= Mass x Gravity
Surface area that
weight of air is
acting on

Atmospheric Pressure

Gas pressure
depends on both
density and

Adding air
increases the
pressure in a

Heating the air

also increases
the pressure.

Air pressure is
equal in all
Pressure = force per unit area

Because air is a fluid, force applied in one direction is distributed

equally in all directions.

Thus the downward pull of gravity on air molecules produces air

pressure in all directions.

Torricellis barometer
used a glass column
suspended in a bowl of
mercury. The pressure
of the air molecules
pushed the mercury up
into the glass tube.

The weight of the mercury in

the tube was equal to the
weight of the air pressing
down on the mercury in the

As atmospheric

The mercury in
the tube rises.

Drinking Straws
a) When a straw is put into a
glass of orange soda, the
pressure inside and outside
the straw is the same, so
the liquid levels inside and
outside the straw are the
b) When a person sucks on
the straw, the pressure
inside the straw is lowered.
The greater pressure on the
surface of the liquid
outside the straw pushes
the liquid up the straw.

Suction Cups
The cardboard does not fall
and the water remains in the
glass even though its not
supported by anything.
The force caused by the
atmospheric pressure acts on
the surface of the cardboard is
greater than the weight of the
water in the glass.

Liquid Pressure
Liquids are made up of particles

The particles can move in all directions

The pressure exerted by a liquid acts in all directions
Liquids with a high density will exert a higher pressure
As you go deeper, the pressure increases
This is due to the weight of all the water above pushing

Water Pressure and Body Pressure

Water pressure
acts in all
directions on this
The fishs body
pushes back with
an equal and
opposite pressure

Submarine and Pressure

Air is vented out by opening the

top of the plastic tubing, to allow
water to flood the submarine.

Air is blown into the plastic

tubing, to push water out of the
submarine, so it can float

How Submarine Works


Lower valves

Valves are used to

control flow of water
into or out of the
exterior of the
By allowing the
ballast tank to fill up
with water, the lower
valves will be open, as
more water fills up,
the submarine will
start to submerge.
The upper valves are
also open to vent air

How Submarine Works

Valves are used to
control flow of air
into or out of the
exterior of the

To surface the
submarine, the upper
valves must open to
allow air into the
ballast tank to push
the water down pass
the lower valves.

Practice Questions