I'm looking at the question Would an object at the bottom of the sea still experience buoyancy? and the answers/voting/general response is boggling my mind.

The question is asking about what would happen to the buoyancy force of a submerged object if it had no fluid beneath it, and therefore no hydrostatic pressure.

The first problem is that this is quite a hypothetical situation; and not much of an engineering question. I voted to close for that reason; but it doesn't seem to be gaining much traction.

The second problem is the answers and voting patterns. All the answers with positive score reach the same conclusion; but none of them justify that solution in an appropriate way. Buoyancy is not just due to a difference in density. It's due to the net hydrostatic pressure acting on the object because of that density.

There seem to be several questions in the Physics Stack Exchange that ask about this same question. 1 2 3 They all reach the exact opposite conclusion, i.e. if the objects face is experiencing no hydrostatic force, the object will not have a buoyant force upwards.

The third alarming thing was an approved edit to the question itself, which struck out the OPs own comment, because "Buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure are two separate effects". I've yet to see a single reference that says anything other than buoyancy is caused by the pressure the fluid exerts on the object, AKA hydrostatic pressure. (so I'm trying to revert the edit)

I know this seems ranty; but I feel like I need some calm heads to take a look at this question (because clearly I'm now too invested). To me the community consensus as of now seems to reject science or the premise of the question.

  • $\begingroup$ I'll let someone else address the broader questions you're asking. However, I approved your edit that corrects the incorrect edit applied to the question. And I'll note that the question is at 3 close votes currently. $\endgroup$
    – user16
    Feb 6, 2018 at 13:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GlenH7 I wanted to bring a bit of attention to it; because I believe my vote expires soon, and the question fell off the radar a bit; but IMO was left in a really bad state. $\endgroup$
    – JMac
    Feb 6, 2018 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


Leaving aside the question of "what's going on" and how folks are interacting with each other and with each other's answers... "the theoretical edge case of a perfect cylinder or cube with perfectly flat and polished surfaces on a perfectly flat polished bottom" is off topic. I've cast the 4th vote to place the question on hold.

I want to caution folks to resist the urge to "help" OP turn this off-topic question into an on-topic question to be re-opened. The line between theoretical and applied is sometimes indistinct but spherical cows are not one of these grey areas. We have a strong policy on Stack Exchange of not editing questions in ways that invalidate answers that were based on reasonable interpretations of the original question. It's my position that this Q&A, as interesting as it may be, should be put to rest.

If, by some chance, OP has a practical problem underlying this question, OP is welcome to draft a real problem statement and submit it separately, so that it can be considered on its own merits.

Now, to comment on the issue of whether good science is being respected here. The question, despite having been very successful at engaging a number of site regulars, only has a couple hundred views in total. With regard to votes on Stack Exchange, caveat lector—let the reader beware! For the best answers to "bubble" to the top requires the input of many voters over time. Questions that are difficult or controversial, under-specified, or which don't attract a lot of attention from a broader audience, can float around in interim states for quite a while before becoming a solid, useful resource. Interacting with other comment and answer authors, and then bringing it up on Meta after a week of that, are all reasonable ways to support that process.


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