Since the place of the Balloon boy saga is about 60 mile north the our offices in Englewood, Colorado, we’ve obtained a number of phone calls and also e-mails around the scientific research of helium… specifically the lifting strength of this inert gas. We determined to display our partners at KUSA and 9News.com what the would take to lift a 10 lb sack that potatoes.

You are watching: How much helium does it take to lift a person

According come news reports, the Jiffy-Pop-shaped balloon that captivated the world on Thursday as it floated across the state measured around 20 feet throughout and 6 feet tall, however it was basic to see that the balloon wasn’t fully inflated also at the time of elevator off.

What is the lifting strength of helium? because that the benefits of time and a much more detailed explanation, here’s a an easy data table that will give you an idea of what that would require to lift a person using a helium balloon. We’re assuming standard temperatures and pressures and also no significant overpressure. Please keep in mind that we’re making use of “cubic feet” and also “pounds” to enhance the English systems that anyone is utilizing in the news.

For recommendation purposes, friend should understand that a big tank that helium – the sort you find at a grocery store or party shop, holds roughly 250 cubic feet the helium. Based on the calculations below, you can see the 250 cubic feet will lift approximately 17 pounds. In our video test for KUSA 9News, we uncovered that 250 cubic feet lifted around 8 pounds of potatoes, add to the string and also the load of the 45 big balloons (2.3 pounds). All in total, we lifted simply over 10 pounds.

Balloon Volume Lifting PowerDiameter (ft) Cubic Ft Pounds

Why didn’t us lift the calculated load of 17 pounds? together you deserve to imagine, we’re working with many assumptions. The firm supplying the helium told united state that the bigger cylinder hold about 250 cubic feet. Every red balloon held roughly 5 cubic feet that helium, and we to be able to inflate just 45 balloons (that’s 225 cubic feet the gas). To top whatever off, we shed 5 of ours balloons during the test (a couple of pops and 3 into the sky). These are the results based upon an impromptu science experiment through a solitary tank that helium.

Since most of usage don’t have a giant, Mylar, paris muffin balloon the likes that the Heene family, we wanted to usage something a little more common (big red balloons) to gain an idea of the scientific research behind the lifting strength of helium.

For additional information about the lifting power of typical gases, visit the university of Hawaii’s website. If you’re wondering much more about the science of helium, the chemistry department provided this information…

Helium is mined, or much more exactly drilled for. In the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles are natural gas wells the contain up to 4% or more Helium. This natural resource is really rare. The gas field must it is in encased in radioactive rock or no helium is produced. The alpha particle decay in the surrounding radioactive rock over millions and also millions of years creates the helium. An alpha particle is just a helium nucleus. As soon as it slow down and also regains its two electrons, it becomes a helium molecule. Hence the radioactive rock provides helium, one molecule in ~ a time, come accumulate in the very same pocket as the herbal gas.

In the 1930’s Germany asked the USA numerous times for helium because that its Zepplins. The us was came to that helium had other military uses and horded it as a strategy material. Because that this reason, the Hindenburg was still lofted through hydrogen on its last disastrous flight, instead of being converted to helium as Germany had actually been make the efforts to do for years.

See more: How Many Lines Of Symmetry Does A Star Have ? Star Polygons

Helium is a herbal byproduct the the liquefaction of the organic gas for pipeline shipment from these special gas fields. Helium liquefies in ~ a much reduced temperature than natural gas, nearby to absolute zero (4 degrees Kelvin). The volume left over after liquefaction is mainly helium prepared to it is in stripped off and sold come the US federal government Bureau that Mines. Few people seem pertained to that this is a non-renewable and also expendable organic resource, tied to very few gas wells in the world.