Pascal's barrel

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An illustration of Pascal's barrel experiment from The forces of nature by Amédée Guillemin (1872).

Pascal's barrel is the name of a hydrostatics experiment allegedly performed by Blaise Pascal in 1646.[1] In the experiment, Pascal inserted a 10-m long (32.8 ft) vertical tube into a barrel filled with water.[2] When water was poured into the vertical tube, Pascal found that the increase in hydrostatic pressure caused the barrel to burst.[1]

The experiment is mentioned nowhere in Pascal's preserved works and it may be apocryphal, attributed to him by 19th-century French authors, among whom the experiment is known as crève-tonneau (approx.: "barrel-buster");[3] nevertheless the experiment remains associated with Pascal in many elementary physics textbooks.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Merriman, Mansfield (1903). Treatise on hydraulics (8 ed.). J. Wiley. p. 22. 
  2. ^ Wine East. 22-23. L & H Photo Journalism. 1994. p. 23. 
  3. ^ perhaps first in an educational context; the attribution is found under this name in A. Merlette, L'encyclopédie des écoles, journal de l'enseignement primaire et professionnel (1863) p. 284: l'expérience du crève-tonneau réalisée pour la première fois par le célèbre Biaise Pascal. Ernest Menu de Saint-Mesmin, Problèmes de mathématiques et de physique: donnés dans les Facultés des science et notamment à la Sorbonne, avec les solutions raisonnées, L. Hachette (1862), p. 380.
  4. ^ see e.g. E. Canon-Tapia in: Thor Thordarson (ed.) Studies in Volcanology, 2009, ISBN 9781862392809, p. 273.