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The Kid Should See This

How to break a ruler with atmospheric pressure

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Can you break a wooden school ruler with the help of a single, smooth sheet of newspaper? The newspaper is so light and thin that the task seems impossible, and yet the ruler breaks in this classic demonstration by Texas A&M physics professor Dr. Tatiana Erukhimova. How?

“We don’t usually notice the earth’s atmosphere pressing down on us, because we’ve lived with it our entire lives,” explains Education.com. “However, this cool science experiment can help us appreciate just how powerful air pressure is.” Erukhimova provides details in the video:

“There is about 15 pounds of force per square inch. The area of this paper, it is about 500 square inches. This is about 7,000 pounds or about 3,000 kilograms. Remember, some air is underneath but there is still a lot of weight.

When I hit the ruler, I cannot suddenly put all this air in motion. It has inertia. So… The ruler breaks!”

breaking a ruler with a newspaper sheet
Related reading: A Texas A&M Professor Is Sharing Her Love Of Physics With Millions On TikTok.

Watch more science demonstrations on TKSST, including:
• Angular momentum demo with a Hoberman Sphere
• A home made string shooter & slow moving waves in rope
What happens to balloon animals in liquid nitrogen?
• Erosion demonstration: Comparing grass, dead leaves, and soil
Speed up geologic time with a DIY squeeze box
Newton’s Laws of Motion demonstrated with wooden blocks

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