Ok...first off, I am NOT a navy vessel engineer. I used to know some stuffs about structures...but I have not done such work in so long I believe I have forgotten over 99.99% of things. Why couldn’t you ask me about filling pot holes! Heh. Transportation engineer here.
Anway...let me see what I can let you know...
1) Good books and/or resources. Uhhh....strike one for me. Not sure...though I suspect a good browse on the internet will get you tons of stuffs.
2) With regards to how did they know how to make those big ol ships float...and what kinds of materials would work. On this I have some basic knowledge.
First off, an object will “float”, if it is lighter than the medium that it is in. In this case, your medium is water. (For our purposes, whenever I mention water, it could really be any medium....water, oil, air, beanie babies.) The object, whether it is an aircraft carrier, a cruise ship, a sampan, or a piece of wood, has the ability to float.
Huh? But an aircraft carrier is made of metal...and its way heavier than water. How does that work?
The principal at work here is the Archimedes Principal of Buoyancy. This basically says that if the buoyant force is greater than the mass of the object, then the object will float.
Now...I’m a bit rusty here...but I believe that buoyancy...or the buoyant force, is a result of the displacement that occurs when the object is placed in the water. Another way of saying that...the volume of water that is moved aside when the object is placed in the water. The more volume that is displaced, the greater the buoyant force.
So....example time. Let’s take a solid piece of steel plate. Say a 12” long x 12” wide x 1” thick piece.
If you put this flat on the water suface....glug, glug, glug...down that baby goes. No brainer there right?
The reason it sinks is because the mass of the piece of steel far exceeds the buoyant force of the water. The steel plate displaces only 144 cubic inches of water.
However, let’s take that same piece of steel....make is super thin....and make it into a 1440” long x 100” wide x 0.001” thick. When we place that on the water suface.....uhh...again, glug, glug, glug. The displacement is still the same at 144 cubic inches, so it will sink.
Now...let’s fold the thin sheet of metal into a bowl or hull shape. If we place the curved side on the water, it may actually float. This is because the displacement of water is greater. The displacement now consists of the steel itself...PLUS the volume of area within the bowl shape. So in other words, the volume of displacement is larger....which will give a larger buoyant force. However, the mass of the metal remains the same. So you get floating.
Take an empty can of soda and cut the tin so it is flat. Place it on the water...sink-a-roo. However, take that same can, and instead of cutting it and making it flat, just plug the opening. It will float. If you leave the soda in, it will sink. Why? Because although you increased the volume of displacement by leaving it in a can shape...you have also added mass.
Ok...super long-winded response...not sure it helps or confuses. But there you go.
3) As a further addition to my long-windedness...there are many other aspects of design that are in consideration when designing certain naval vessels I am sure. I mean, these things can sometimes be floating cities! Besides the mechanics of physics, I am sure they have to take things like propulsion, electrical, static & dynamic loading, waste removal, and a bazillion other things into consideration!
Hmmm....again, I am soooo not a sea engineer....so take what I say with a grain of salt.
You may say I'm a dreamer...but I'm not the only one...
~ John Lennon ~
Life's like a movie, write your own ending...
~ Kermit the Frog ~
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