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Mercury is suitable as a barometric fluid because it…

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Mercury is suitable as a barometric fluid because it

A. expands uniformly

B. is several times denser than water

C. is opaque

D. is a good conductor of heat




Mercury is preferred to water as a barometric liquid because it is about 13.6 times denser than water.

A water barometer will need to be quite bigger and taller than a mercury barometer in order to reasonably measure atmospheric pressure, so, for the sake of portability, a more denser liquid like mercury is preferred.

Now for the right answer to the above question:

  1. Option A is incorrect. expansion of mercury is not needed to measure atmospheric pressure, so, its expansivity is not the reason for its preference as a barometric fluid.
  2. Option B is correct. the high density of mercury makes it possible to build a small portable and sensitive barometer.
  3. C is incorrect. although the opacity of mercury allows easier observation and reading, the main reason for its preference lies in its greater density.
  4. D is not the correct answer. We are not trying to measure temperature here, and so, heat conductivity is irrelevant.


You may please note these/this:

  • Expansivity and heat conductivity of mercury only comes into play when we intend to measure temperature and not pressure, so, options A and D are diversionary.
  • The higher density of mercury gave it an edge over water because it enabled the construction of portable barometer that can easily be moved around.

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/ culled from 2016 JAMB-UTME physics past question 33 /

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