You have made your prediction and now it is time to see what happens when I release the
In three, two, one.
The balance tips towards the right, towards the hanging, heavier ball.
But why does this happen?
Well, the best way I can think of to explain this is that both balls displace the same
amount of water.
So they both experience the same upward buoyant force which is equal to the weight of the
water they displace.
That is just Archimedes Principle.
But by Newton’s Third Law, that means there must be equal and opposite forces down on
the water in both beakers.
So you would think that both beakers would get heavier by this same amount.
Now for the hanging ball the beaker does get heavier by this amount, because the buoyant
force is now supporting some of the weight that used to be supported by this tension
in the string.
But it is now reduced and so beaker actually has more weight.
But for the ping pong ball, the downward force on the water is almost entirely counteracted
by the upward force of the tension in that string on the bottom of the beaker.
And, therefore, the weight of this beaker only increases by the weight of the ping pong
ball itself, whereas for the hanging ball the weight increases by the weight of water
So obviously this beaker is going to end up being heavier.
Now I want to propose an additional experiment.
What if instead of tethering the ping pong ball to the base of this beaker, I just got
a free ping pong ball and submerged it with my finger, just barely under the surface of
In that case, what do you think would happen when the scale was allowed to rotate?
Would it tilt down A) towards the hanging acrylic ball or B)
down towards the ping pong ball, which is now just barely submerged under the water
or C) would the balance remain perfectly balanced?So I want you to make your selection, make your
prediction by leaving a comment starting with either A, B or C and then giving me your explanation.
And I will tally up the votes and let you know the answer next time.