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#1
Old 11-11-2007, 12:04 AM
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How many balloons would it take to lift a person?

It's such the cliché in movies and t.v.. Someone with a huge bunch of balloons hands them to someone smaller than themselves, who is carried off by them. I know a typical latex balloon can lift a very miniscule amount of weight, but I assume that it could happen, given enough of them. So how many is that? Thousands? Millions?
#2
Old 11-11-2007, 12:09 AM
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Then answer, as always, is 42.

Lawnchair Larry.
#3
Old 11-11-2007, 12:10 AM
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Mythbusters did an episode on this, trying to lift a child off the ground with ordinary helium balloons. To get a 44-lb. child off the ground, it took 3500 balloons.

Oh, and here's a slide show from a subsequent stunt by the Mythbusters guys, where they used some 6000-7000 baloons to lift Paul Newman off the ground.

Last edited by Spoke; 11-11-2007 at 12:15 AM.
#4
Old 11-11-2007, 12:29 AM
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This reminds me of a Japanese show that used to have Myth Busters-like segments. In one of them, they tried to answer the question: how many standard fire extinguishers would you need to lift a person off the ground? They found that with 200, you could lift a platform with a man sitting on it about 2 cm in the air.
#5
Old 11-11-2007, 02:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Contrapuntal
Then answer, as always, is 42.

Lawnchair Larry.

And Kent Couch did it again this past July over Oregon.
#6
Old 11-11-2007, 03:34 PM
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Somebody set the original MythBusters experiment to music. ("99 Luftballoons," of course.)
#7
Old 11-11-2007, 04:22 PM
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Here's a web page with some formulas you can use based on the size of the balloons and the weight of the person:
http://howstuffworks.com/question185.htm

Whatever formulas Mythbusters used (might have been the above) ended up being wrong. They ended up using about twice as many balloons as predicted, IIRC. You could try estimating the size of the balloons the Mythbusters gang was using and figure the weight of the Mythbusters child (44 lb) into the equations, which will tell you if your formulas are in the right ballpark.

In case you haven't followed the links, "enough of them" ended up being far more than a typical balloon carrying clown could muscle around. The premise in the OP is technically possible, but not really practical.
#8
Old 11-11-2007, 04:56 PM
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Related thread:
How much can a modern dirigible lift?
#9
Old 11-11-2007, 09:59 PM
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Thanks for all the great info, guys. I love the lawnchair pilots!
#10
Old 11-11-2007, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XaMcQ
Thanks for all the great info, guys. I love the lawnchair pilots!
You might enjoy this movie. It's a lot of fun.
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