Nugget of Knowledge: Archimedes’ principle

A child's balloon can go up to 6 miles high

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – There would seem to be no limit to how high a helium balloon can go.

There are two things that will stop a balloon flight: the strength of the balloon material and Archimedes’s principle.

As a balloon rises, the pressure of the air around it keeps dropping while the helium inside keeps expanding.

Toy balloons burst at around six miles or so, while professional meteorological balloons reach heights of 18 to 20 miles.

Archimedes’s Principle sets the limit. Balloons will stop rising once the density of the helium inside matches the density of the air around it. Then, it will burst or leak.

So there’s no chance of balloons entering the vacuum of space.

In 2002, a helium balloon from the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Japan climbed to 33 miles, halfway to the official edge of space.

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