Our chaplain Grace Palmer shares her scientific learning with us….
Archimedes’ discovered the principle of floatation and this was something that fascinated me, back in the day, when I was totally in love with science. The law of floatation states that a floating body displaces its own weight of the fluid in which it floats. This means if a log of 200 kg floats in water, it displaces 200 kg of water. Ships, canoes, ferry boats move on the upper part of the water bodies which is floating but sinks due to an accident or when they are over loaded. Therefore floatation can be defined as the tendency of an object to rise up to the upper levels of the fluid or to stay on the surface of the fluid. The opposite of floatation is sinking and can be defined as the tendency of an object to go to the lower levels of the fluid.
Here in YMCA Burton, God has kept us afloat even in times like these. The pandemic has hit hard. We read and see news everyday which can frighten or make us anxious of the perilous times we live in. Many have asked and pondered what has become of us? The truth of the matter is we are still here. YMCA is still going on as if nothing has changed. How can this be?
The principle of floatation can be applied here. If the density of the object is less than that of the liquid then that object will stay afloat. We have stayed afloat. This has been brought about by the support, courage, enthusiasm, prayers, commitment and resilience of any and everyone connected to the YMCA. We have seen and heard stories of sacrifice, love, help and tenderness from so many, first hand.
But above all God in his mercy has been good and gracious to us. The psalmist speaks of Gods goodness and favour in Psalms 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Does this mean we are the best…no. It means the goodness and favour of God is greater, higher and bigger which exceeds everything we do.
During this pandemic many are afloat and thriving, some are surviving and some are sinking. Where do you put yourself in? The Bible speaks of a friend who sticks closer than a brother. That friend is Christ. Are you in need of a friend who could keep you afloat? My friend is Christ who keeps me afloat.
One of the applications of the law of floatation applies to hot air balloons. Hot air balloons consist of three parts, the balloon, the burner and the basket. The burner uses propane gas to heat up air in the balloon and as the air in the balloon gets hot, it expands. The density becomes lower than the surrounding air so it rises.
To rise and float our density must be lower. To be less dense, one has to be less compact and tight. This is the reason the hot gas in the balloon rises because the particles are further apart and because they aren’t as compact as in a solid or liquid, it is less dense, therefore allowing it to rise.
The easiest way to float is to stretch out our arms and legs in a star-shape and lie on the surface of the water. We do this because we are providing more surface area for the water to push against. By spreading ourselves out, the water keeps us afloat. In a metaphorical sense, when we “broaden our horizons” and relax, the things that could potentially sink us, are the very things that lift us up and keep us afloat.
Many things in life can bring us down. Perhaps it is time to look at things that makes us heavier and stops us from rising and floating. We too can spread ourselves out and help where we can and in return we will receive hands and feet, love and support, friends and neighbours, comfort and strength, to help us through these times….which will help us stay afloat and rise higher and higher each day.
It is possible – Archimedes proved it in his principle of floatation.