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Cartesian diver

noun
1.
a glass vessel partially filled with water and covered with an airtight membrane, containing a hollow object that is open at the bottom and contains just enough air to allow it to float. Pressing on the membrane compresses the air in the vessel and forces water into the object, causing it to sink; releasing the membrane causes it to rise.
Also called Cartesian devil, bottle imp.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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