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February 24, 2020

Floating a 110-pound iron anvil on liquid mercury

I found this fascinating.

I guess I'm not alone: it's been viewed over 1.1 million times since it was posted in 2018.

February 24, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


Anything lighter than an equal volume of mercury will float.
We used it during the '70s in manometers at a steam turbine test facility, and every once in awhile the vacuum we were measuring would change to pressure blowing the mercury out on the floor. The rules for cleaning it up were explicit as to a dedicated high tech vacuum cleaner certain containers, rags and protection. I had to laugh thinking about the 7th grade science teacher in the '50s passing around a dish of mercury so everyone could coat a coin to take home in their pocket.

Posted by: xoxoxoBruce | Feb 24, 2020 10:51:28 PM

The Mt. Wilson Observatory's 100 inch telescope floats on a mercury bearing (https://www.mtwilson.edu/building-the-100-inch-telescope/), and the rotating Fresnel lens assemblies of lighthouses often sat on a shaft that similarly floated in mercury to reduce friction.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 24, 2020 8:07:21 PM

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