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Why does a paper boat sink?

Boating enthusiasts are often familiar with the concept of paper boats. Paper boats are simple, fun and easy to make, and many of us have experimented with them as kids. However, one question that often arises is why do paper boats sink despite being made out of lightweight paper?

To answer this question, we need to understand a bit about buoyancy. Buoyancy is the force that makes objects float on water. The buoyancy force opposes the weight of the object and is directly proportional to the weight of water displaced by the object. If an object’s weight is greater than the weight of the water it displaces, it will sink.

Going back to the paper boat, we can see that the buoyancy force acting on it is essentially the weight of the water displaced by the boat. The weight of the paper boat, on the other hand, is negligible in comparison. Therefore, the buoyancy force acting on the paper boat is not enough to counter its weight, causing it to sink.

Another crucial factor to consider is the material used to create the paper boat. While paper is lightweight and buoyant, it is not waterproof. When a paper boat is folded, it creates small creases and folds along its surface, which can create small gaps and holes where water can seep in. This means that as the paper boat sits in the water, it absorbs water, which adds weight to the boat, and diminishes the buoyancy force. This can cause the paper boat to sink further into the water until it eventually sinks entirely.

Therefore, the reason why a paper boat sinks is because despite being buoyant, it is not waterproof, and it is not able to displace enough water to support its weight.

The science behind the sinking of paper boats can be explained by basic principles of buoyancy and the material used to create the boat. Although it is a fun activity to make and sail, ultimately, paper boats are not ideally suited for boating due to their non-waterproof material.

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