A paper clip will not 'float' on water in the same sense that a cork will. If you
a cork below the surface, it will rise to the surface. A paper clip will not.
If you carefully place the paper clip on the surface of calm water, however, you can keep
from sinking because of surface tension. In a liquid, molecules are attracted by
neighboring ones in all directions, except for those at the boundary. The unequal
attraction of neighboring molecules at the surface forms a kind of 'skin'. This surface
tension is responsible for minimizing the surface area of a free-falling drop of water
If you look closely at an object suspended by surface tension, whether it is a paper
insect, leaf, etc. you will notice a slight depression in the surface supporting the
As long as the pressure exerted by an object is low enough, surface tension can support
Low pressure requires a large area in contact with the water relative to weight.
Answered by: Paul Walorski, B.A. Physics, Part-time Physics Instructor
'Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannnot communicate and teach it.'