Boyle’s Law and Real Life Examples

October 30, 2013

Boyle's law and real life examples

What is Boyle’s Law?

Boyle’s law states that the pressure exerted by a gas is inversely proportional to its volume at a constant temperature in a closed system.  This means that as the pressure increases, the volume decreases and vice versa.

If we want to represent this mathematically, we can say

P = K/V

PV = K

Here, P is the pressure, V is the volume, and K is a constant.

Robert Boyle (1627 to 1691)

The Boyle’s law is named after Robert Boyle who is regarded as one of the founders of modern chemistry.  Boyle was greatly influenced by his colleague at Oxford University, Robert Hooke, who formulated Hooke’s law for elasticity in springs.  He likened gas particles to “springs of air.”  He then conducted his famous mercury U-Tube experiment to arrive at the findings for formulating Boyle’s law.

Real Life Examples of Boyle’s Law

Let us now look at some real life examples of Boyle’s law.

What will happen if you apply pressure on a fully blown balloon?  You can see Boyle’s law in action.  With the increase in pressure, the volume will also decrease accordingly.  The balloon will burst at a “breaking point.”

The Boyle’s law is also in action while we are breathing.  If one does the “pranayama,” breathing exercise, in yoga, one will realize that when the volume of the air in the lungs slowly decreases as one breathes out; the increasing pressure pushes the air out during exhalation and vice versa.

You will also experience Boyle’s law if you fly in an airplane.  If you have flown in an airplane, what happens during take-off and landing?  Your ears will pop.  This is because as there is an increase in altitude, there will be a change in air pressure from high to low pressure.  This causes a variation of air pressure inside and outside the eardrums.  In the ears, the air in the air space of the ears will increase in volume which causes the ears to pop due to the eardrums feeling the strain.  This is the reason passengers are given a boiled sweet to suck on and are encouraged to swallow hard.  The air that has expanded out can then escape through the throat opening.

photo credit: caribb via photopin cc

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