Monday, February 8, 2010

Mythbusters - The Gods of Evaluation

I always watch Mythbusters with a sense of jealousy. They have always done an amazing job in seeing if ideas hold truths. I will always bow to Jamie, Adam, Kari, Tory and Grant. I look to see their work every weekend. This weekend the Discovery Channel showed episode 47 of Mythbusters. The Helium filled footballs, probably because of the Super Bowl. But I have never seen this episode.

Adam got a bunch of regulation footballs and a throwing machine. He filled half of the balls with helium at 15psi. He tested one of the balls to busting pressure at ~90psi. They expected the Helium filled balls to travel further than regulation balls. That was the myth.

The material of the balloon is far more dense then the change in the density of the air filling it. The material of the balloon is far more dense than the air surrounding the balloon. The shape and weight of the ball are the primary factors in the consistency in their results. Adam said this at the end of the show.

The most important thing Adam said was at the beginning of the show. A helium filled ball weighs less than an empty football!!!

The major density contributer in the football's flight characteristics is the material and shape of the ball. Not the gas filling it. This was shown by the experiment.

Questions

What would happen if both balls were filled to 50, 60, 70 psi of Helium? Would they float?
What would happen if the ball material was changed to mylar or some other lightweight material? Of course this would change the launch characteristics.
What would happen if the balls were filled with Hydrogen?
Would the ball burst at 90psi of Helium?
What would happen if a Hydrogen and Oxygen gas mixture were used and then tested against H20?
My final question is would a mylar balloon filled with 1 kg of helium hit the ground at the same time as a 1 kg steel ball?
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