STEM Starters: The World of Pressure

Diagram 1. Pressure in relation to airflow.

Diagram 1. Pressure in relation to airflow.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (Nov. 8, 2013) — Most of us are more than accustomed to pressure, both in the scientific and human sense of the word. Many, however, do not equate the significance of pressure with everyday observations.

We all know about pressure’s relationship to weather patterns, bottle rockets, and air travel. Examples of pressure are not limited to these gaseous examples however. As you may remember from school, pressure is obtained by dividing a force by an applied area.

Example: The pressure you exert on the floor doubles as you switch from standing on two feet to one. It is much safer to peel an apple with a sharp knife rather than a dull knife because the sharp knife has a relatively smaller cutting surface area, thus increases the pressure applied to the apple per unit force. Being able to cut the apple with less force means a lower probability that one will slip with the knife.

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