Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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How high's the sky?

The density of water is just about 1000 kg/m3. The density of air is just about 1000 times less -- 1 kg/m3 (actually 1.3 kg/m3 at sea level.) From your knowledge of the air pressure at ground level, estimate the height of the atmosphere. As a simplifying assumption, take the atmosphere to be of uniform density up to some height after which the density rapidly falls to zero. (In reality, the density of the atmosphere decreases smoothly as we go up so it extends somewhat higher than you will estimate.)

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Page last modified October 9, 2002: M06