Have you ever wondered why raindrops seem to fall straight down from the clouds while snowflakes tend to slowly make their way to the ground? We know that raindrops and snowflakes are formed when water molecules condense at colder temperatures. It is the difference in density between these which causes the raindrops to be heavier whereas the larger-looking snowflakes are incredibly lighter in comparison.
This difference in weight is explained by the concept of density.
If you wish to learn about density, then this 5-minute article will explain to you all about its importance and help you learn a simple way to calculate the density of an object too.
What is Density?
Density is defined as mass per unit volume. In simple terms, density refers to the concentration of molecules within the object. An object with higher density means it will have less empty space between its component molecules.
Although it is true that density of an object determines its weight, the weight of the same object changes (such as when weighed on earth and on the moon). As the gravitational force acting on the object changes, the weight of the object changes in direct proportion to it. However, the density of the object will not change, irrespective of the normal gravitational force acting on it.
Density can be understood even better if you have ever made a snowball for a snowball fight in winter. Taking a few handfuls of snow, you pack it together till it fits your palm. Then you begin to put more pressure, rolling it gradually around in your palm, till it becomes round. It becomes smaller and seemingly heavier too.
While making a snowball from the snow around, what you are trying is pushing the snowflakes closer to each other, thereby removing as much empty space from between them as possible.
The amount of snow which you had picked up initially from the ground remains the same despite being compacted into a smaller ball. Only the density of the total snow increases.
Importance of Density
Density, by definition, means the number of units within a targeted space. Density can help to measure the weight of any object (solid, liquid and even gaseous) and determine the amount of electric charge within a volume unit as well as defining the number of people living within a specified location.
For practical purposes, density is mainly used to identify two factors:
- Buoyancy of an object
- Mass of an object
Buoyancy – The buoyancy of an object determines whether it will float on water or sink down. In simple terms, objects with a density lower than that of water will float, and vice versa.
Mass – Mass means the actual amount of material within an object. Density and mass are linked closely.
3 Easy steps to Calculate Density of an Object
It is extremely easy to calculate the density of an object if you simply know its mass and volume.
Let’s say you want to calculate the density of a piece of metal. Simply follow these three easy steps:
- Calculate mass – Weighing the piece of metal on a weighing scale will show you its mass in grams.
- Calculate volume – Simply measure the height, length and width of the piece of metal. Multiplying the three measurements will give you the volume.
- Calculate density – Use the formula: ρ = m/V (where ‘ρ’ = Density of the object, ‘m’ = Mass of the object and ‘V’ = Volume of the object)