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LIQUIDS

As water flows along a river, it constantly changes its shape to fit the space available. This is because water is a liquid, and liquids flow and do not have a fixed shape. Instead, they take on the shape of whatever container they are in. If you pour a liquid from a glass onto a plate, the volume of liquid (the space it takes up) stays the same, but its shape changes.

POWER OF FLOW

A fast-flowing liquid, such as the water rushing over this waterfall, has a lot of energy. The power of flowing water can be used to turn wheels to drive machinery and even create electricity. Fast-moving liquids, such as tidal waves, can also cause a lot of damage.

LIQUID PARTICLES

The forces between liquid particles are weaker than the forces between solid particles. This means that liquid particles are further apart and can move about more easily. Since the particles can move, the liquid can flow and take the shape of its container.

SURFACE TENSION

Some insects, such as pond-skaters, are able to walk on water without sinking. This is because the forces of attraction between the water particles pull the particles at the surface together. This creates a tension, called surface tension, that makes the water surface behave as if an invisible, stretchy skin covers it.

COHESION

Mercury is a liquid metal that is poisonous. When mercury is dropped onto a surface, it rolls off in little balls. This is because the forces between the mercury particles are very strong, so the particles clump together. This force between particles of the same type is called cohesion. Water particles do not have such strong cohesion, so they wet surfaces.

VISCOSITY

A measure of how fast or slowly a liquid can flow is its viscosity. Crude oil, for example, is a liquid that does not flow very easily. It is said to have high viscosity. Heating crude oil lowers its viscosity and enables it to flow more freely through pipes. Other liquids, such as water, flow easily without being heated. Water has low viscosity.

VOLUME

Although they look very different, these two containers contain the same volume of liquid. The volume of a liquid is the amount of space it takes up. Although liquids change their shape when moved from one container to another, their volume always stays the same. For this reason, liquids are usually measured by their volume, in litres or gallons.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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