[ASC-media] Floating an Aircraft Carrier...

Nick Hoffman nhoffman at unimelb.edu.au
Mon Nov 17 08:30:55 EST 2003

While this is a graphic metaphor, it is completely wrong.

Although the aircraft carrier mentioned may DISPLACE 93,000 tonnes of
water, it only takes a few litres of water to FLOAT it - if you have a
jelly mould of the right shape! 

Once you have established a film of water all round the hull, it is
floating. Anything beyond that is giving you manoeuvring room. One could
not usefully sail an aircraft carrier in a mass of water equal to its
own displacement, just as it would be ludicrous to try to use a rowing
boat in a bathtub!

Whilst this may seem nit-picky, it is an example of the misunderstanding
and misuse of physics and mathematics in press releases, IMHO...

[A professor of science communication?]

      - Nick
Nick Hoffman        Geophysics Expert

       3D-GEO Research Lab
     School of Earth Sciences
     University of Melbourne
    Parkville, Australia 3010
   Phone:   +61 3 8344 3735
   Fax:       +61 3 8344 7761
   Mobile:   0438 397 366

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"The average Australian uses 100,000 tonnes of water in a lifetime -
slightly more than it takes to float the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise
93, 000 tonnes " said Professor Julian Cribb, a science communication

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