Why Do Some Bowling Balls Float

It’s pretty common to see inflated balls floating on seas and other bodies of water. However, can the same be true for bowling balls? Do bowling balls even float at all? And if they do, why?

Some bowling balls float because of density. A 10-pound ball has less material than a 12-pound ball whereas a 12-pound ball has the same density as water which consists of 1 gram per cubic centimeter. Therefore, the 12-pound ball will float. It’s also safe to conclude that any bowling ball under 12 pounds will float on water.

All things that are heavy sink. But did you know that some only float momentarily? Why do you think a coin sink and the whole aircraft floats? The same goes with a bowling ball – some of them will float while others will sink. The weight of the object is a determining factor of whether it will sink or float in the water.

Bowling balls that are under regulation have the same size. Hence, size is not the reason why some bowling balls float while others sink.

Applying the Archimedes Principle, anything that you put on the water will displace its weight. As such, a 10-pound ball will displace its 10 pounds weight in water. However, a bowling ball will take up more volume compared to 10 pounds of water. As a result, the bowling ball will float.

Can a 14lbs. Bowling Ball Float in the Dead Sea?

The Dead Sea is a unique body of water in the Middle East where everything will float. It is located within the borders of Jordan and Israel. It is 10% saltier than the rest of the world’s oceans. Its salty water makes the sea so dense that floating is just so easy.

However, can a 14lbs. bowling ball float in the Dead Sea? Well, the answer is yes! The explanation is that the density of the ball only requires to be lesser than the Dead Sea’s density. This means that the reason why a bowling ball floats in bodies of water is due to density. The weight of the ball will not determine if it would float, but its density.

So anything in big weight and thrown in the water will float. For instance, why do you think a battleship floats in the water despite being big? It’s because being big means lesser in density.

As such, it is not impossible that you and the bowling ball will float in the Dead Sea. It only means that you have lesser density than the water.

How Long Does a Bowling Ball Remain Floating in Water?

Suppose you are in a ship and you throw a 7kg (15.5lbs) bowling ball into the ocean. How long do you think will it reach the bottom? Well, weight is important in determining whether a bowling ball will float or not. Most bowling balls float because they displace the same volume in seawater.

However, bowling balls weighing 12.13lbs and beyond will simply sink. As such, a 7kg bowling bowl will surely sink in the water.

But how fast will it get to the bottom? Bowling balls falling in the seawater are straightforward. To determine their falling speed, you have to identify their buoyancy and drag equation.

The terminal velocity of a 7kg bowling ball is 1.3 meters per second. Put simply, it will take 2 hours and 20 minutes for the bowling ball to completely reach the depth of the ocean.

But what if the bowling ball weighs only 7 pounds? In such a case, it will never get to the bottom. The ball will only be drifted sideways by the current of the seawater. If the ship is going directly to the Marianas Trench, the ball would first drift to the west of the Philippine seas, then north of the China sea, and then to Japan.

Finally, it could be drifted to the Pacific Ocean. Moreover, there is also a possibility that it could be swept to the shore.

Buoyant Force of a Bowling Ball

When a heavy and solid bowling ball is dropped into the water, water will push it up with the same force that it displaces. Meanwhile, if the amount of water is lesser than the weight of the bowling ball, the latter would likely sink.

However, when you drop a volleyball into the water, it will most likely float. The volleyball displaces very little water. As such, the buoyant force keeps it afloat.

Moreover, if you would try to push a floating bowling ball, the push back that you would experience is called the buoyant force. The more that a bowling ball displaces the amount of liquid equal to its weight, the more it would float. This is buoyancy at work. The buoyant force will push the object upward to float.

Buoyancy is measured by weight. It is the upward force that an object needs so it can stay afloat. It’s the reason why we feel lighter in the bathtub or in a swimming pool. Since our bodies are filled with water, it simply means our density is closer to the density of water.

The Density Behind a Floating Bowling Bowl

If you fall off from a boat, it’s very unlikely that you would think of the Archimedes’ principle. The Archimedes’ principle can help you understand what happens when your body is submerged. When an object is soaked underwater, it displaces or moves water according to its weight. This principle has concluded that waters will push the object upward with its force that is equal to what it displaces in the water.

Density measures how heavy the object is compared to its size. The amount it displaces will determine the density of the object. A bowling ball and a volleyball may have similar volumes. However, they don’t have the same weight.

A bowling ball weighs more than a volleyball and is very much denser. From this, we can conclude that the denser an object is, the more it would float in the water. This explains why some bowling balls float on the water.