When you think of the activities that tourists usually do in Israel — exploring historic ruins, visiting religious sites, enjoying water sports or nightlife — bowling doesn’t exactly come to mind. But if you had access to a 14-lb. bowling ball when traveling through the Holy Land, wouldn’t you try to see if it floats in the Dead Sea?
That’s just what I did on a recent trip to Israel. Armed with a bright pink 14-lb. bowling ball (pink for good contrast against earth tones), I experimented at different bodies of water around the country until I arrived at the Dead Sea — a popular attraction for its unique geological characteristics. Not only is it the lowest point on earth (over 1,380 ft below sea level), but it’s also one of the saltiest, with the salinity of the water at about 31% — that’s about 8 times saltier than ocean water. And because of this high concentration of natural salt, the density of Dead Sea water is almost 24% higher than regular water, which means that many things that don’t normally float actually become buoyant — but does that include a 14-lb. bowling ball? Find out:
If you do the math, you could calculate the density of a 14-lb. bowling ball, compare it to that of Dead Sea water, and figure out the answer from there, but there’s nothing better than getting an answer through actual experimentation. (Plus, it’s a lot more fun.)
On a side note: I acquired this bowling ball in Israel, but brought it back with me to the U.S. Without even opening my bag, the security guy at Ben Gurion International Airport looked at my x-ray scan and asked, “So, what you have in there, a watermelon?”