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ERIC Number: EJ941347
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 4
ISSN: ISSN-0031-9120
The Secret Siphon
Hughes, Stephen W.
Physics Education, v46 n3 p298-302 May 2011
Although the siphon has been in use since ancient times, the exact mechanism of operation is still under discussion. For example, most dictionaries assert that atmospheric pressure is essential to the operation of a siphon rather than gravity. Although there is general agreement that gravity is the motivating force in a siphon, there is disagreement on how liquid enters a siphon--is it atmospheric push or tensile pull? This article describes a classroom experiment that can serve as the basis for discussing how a siphon works. The experiment involves the construction of a siphon in which the water level in the upper reservoir is held constant during the operation of the siphon. Since the atmosphere is not doing any work on the water in the upper reservoir, only gravity is at work. The special situation of a bubble-in-a-siphon is also discussed in which both atmospheric pressure and gravity are at work. (Contains 4 figures.)
Institute of Physics Publishing. The Public Ledger Building Suite 929, 150 South Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 215-627-0880; Fax: 215-627-0879; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A