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Physics/Ballpoint pens and physics


Does the ballpoint pen match current theories of physics, or does it defy pressure, conservation of mass, etc.?

I have received responses from forums that suggest that the pen makes a thin line and thus doesn’t use much ink.

Maybe this is just crazy.

Maybe the ball point of the pen makes more ink by spinning ink?

The pen I was using does appear to eventually run out of ink, but it seemed to take way too long to run it out.

Hello Adam,

I do not believe any laws of physics are broken. I agree with the responses from forums that you described.

You could estimate the volume of ink laid down on paper in writing a line of text. That would involve finding the total length of the line segments in the line of text and multiplying by the cross section area of the line. And then multiply by the number of lines of text you can write with one ballpoint pen. You then could calculate the volume of ink in a new ballpoint pen. Compare.

I hope this helps,


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Steve Johnson


I would be delighted to help with questions up through the first year of college Physics. Particularly Electricity, Electronics and Newtonian Mechanics (motion, acceleration etc.). I decline questions on relativity and Atomic Physics. I also could discuss the Space Shuttle and space flight in general.


I have a BS in Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering. I am retired now. My professional career was in Electrical Engineering with considerable time spent working with accelerometers, gyroscopes and flight dynamics (Physics related topics) while working on the Space Shuttle. I gave formal classroom lessons to technical co-workers periodically over a several year period.

BS Physics, North Dakota State University
MS Electrical Engineering, North Dakota State University

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