Giant Water Barometer

Temporary installation at Flux Factory as part of the Science Fair exhibition
Two Weekends: June 5-6/12-13, 12-6 PM, 2010

by SP Weather Station in collaboration with Daniel Robie
The first barometer wasn’t invented to measure air pressure. In the 17th century, columns of water were used to disprove the church’s position that a true vacuum was impossible. What people found (eventually) is that water can only be raised about 33 feet from the ground with any suction pump. Galileo’s protege Evangelista Torricelli realized that such a column could be used to measure changes in the air. He also realized that a much denser fluid, such as mercury, registers those changes on a much smaller (more scientifically convenient) scale.

Who needs convenience? At Flux Factory for the first two weekends in June, SPWS and Dan Robie, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, York College, CUNY, are measuring pressure with a tube of water the height of Flux Factory, in homage to the barometer’s history.

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