 # Pressure

Pressure is defined as force per unit area. It is usually more convenient to use pressure rather than force to describe the influences upon fluid behavior. The standard unit for pressure is the Pascal, which is a Newton per square meter.

For an object sitting on a surface, the force pressing on the surface is the weight of the object, but in different orientations it might have a different area in contact with the surface and therefore exert a different pressure.

There are many physical situations where pressure is the most important variable. If you are peeling an apple, then pressure is the key variable: if the knife is sharp, then the area of contact is small and you can peel with less force exerted on the blade. If you must get an injection, then pressure is the most important variable in getting the needle through your skin: it is better to have a sharp needle than a dull one since the smaller area of contact implies that less force is required to push the needle through the skin.

When you deal with the pressure of a liquid at rest, the medium is treated as a continuous distribution of matter. But when you deal with a gas pressure, it must be approached as an average pressure from molecular collisions with the walls.

Pressure in a fluid can be seen to be a measure of energy per unit volume by means of the definition of work. This energy is related to other forms of fluid energy by the Bernoulli equation. Fig : Relationship between absolute, gauge and vacuum pressures.

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Pressure is the ratio of force to the area over which that force is distributed. In other words, pressure is force per unit area, applied in a direction perpendicular to the surface of an object.

Gauge pressure is the pressure relative to the local atmospheric or ambient pressure. While pressure may be measured in any unit of force divided by any unit of area, the International System of Units (SI) unit of pressure is called the pascal (Pa) after the seventeenth-century philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal. A pressure of 1 Pa is small; it equals approximately the pressure exerted by a dollar bill resting flat on a table. Everyday pressures are often stated in kilopascals (1 kPa = 1000 Pa).

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