The Mystery of the Dead Sea

As some of you may already know, when one goes for a swim in the Dead Sea (in Jordan); he or she floats on top of the water.

Why is this, you ask? Well, it all comes down to an elaborate explanation involving density and buoyant force.

deadseamap

A map of the Dead Sea, Jordan.

First, we’ll start with the name: Dead Sea. It’s actually a misnomer, because the Dead Sea is a lake, not a sea.

Lake- inland, shallower than seas, sometimes smaller than seas, could be fresh water

Sea- always salt water, saline bodies of water that can’t access the ocean

Other Hypersaline Seas/Lakes:                      Other Sea/Lake Misnomers:

-Lake Assal                                                      -Aral Sea

-Don Juan Pond                                                -Caspian Sea

-Great Salt Lake

-Mono Lake

strange salt formations

Strange salt formations from various parts of the Dead Sea.

Did you know that there is no marine life (plants or fish) in the Dead Sea? The high mineral and salt content make it impossible for anything to live (hence the name: Dead Sea), and makes it very hard for the water to freeze.

wonder of nature

Dead Sea: A Wonder of Nature

Did you know that in the Bible, it is said that the Dead Sea will one day come alive and fill with marine life? From a scientific perspective, that’s impossible.

Now let’s get down to the real question. Why do people float in the Dead Sea?

dead-sea

A man reading a newspaper in the Dead Sea.

Well to start off, people float in all bodies of water with a high percentage of salinity. Thus, its hypersalinity allows the human body to float easily. This is because the density (mass/volume) of a human is less than that of the Dead Sea, but not of pure water. The density of water is 1 g/mL, and the density of salt water is even higher. The unbelievable part is that the density of the Dead Sea is 10 times that of regular salt water!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

People having fun, floating in the Dead Sea.

I’ll leave you with this question, and try to answer it in the next entry: Why do dead bodies float, and live bodies sink?

Oh and by the way, I’ll try to post about once a week.

-Matt

PS. Leave some ideas in the comments and I’ll probably use them!

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