I don’t watch much television. One of the few shows that I do watch is MythBusters, sadly now in its last season. I watched three old shows tonight, including one of my all-time favorites, making a lead balloon.
Taking on the adage "to go down like a lead balloon", Jamie and Adam set out to prove that it is possible to make a lead balloon fly. But it’s not easy.
After prototyping a couple of designs with aluminum foil, they move on to lead foil. Lead foil is very hard to obtain and it’s much weaker than aluminum foil. Jamie likens it to working with wet toilet paper, as it’s so easy to tear. They prove at small scale that it’s possible to make a burrito-shaped lead balloon, but it’s too heavy to fly, as the ratio of the volume of helium to the mass of the balloon walls is too low. Unhappy with the burrito shape, Adam comes up with an ingenious origami-inspired design for a collapsible cube, which unfolds like a flower. They carefully construct a 10’x10’x10’ cube from lead foil in a large hangar, fill it with a mixture of helium and air, and it flies!
Pointless but ingenious. Myth busted!