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Balloon in a car (Posted on 2004-12-16) Difficulty: 1 of 5
You work for a balloon delivery service and you are delivering a single, helium-filled balloon in your car. To prevent the balloon from bouncing around on the ceiling while you are driving you have tied a string with a weight on it to the balloon. The weight is resting on the floor and the balloon is floating just below the ceiling.

When you accelerate, does the balloon stay where it is, move backward, or move forward? What does it do when you make a turn?

Assume all the windows are closed and the vents are turned off so there is no air flow inside the car to affect the balloon.

  Submitted by Sing4TheDay    
Rating: 3.6667 (3 votes)
Solution: (Hide)
As the car accelerates forward, inertia forces the air inside the car backward compressing the air behind the balloon and pushing it forward. This is because the air is heavier than the helium-filled balloon, and thus acts as all heavy things do in a car that's accelerating: move backwards. Similarly, when rounding a curve, the balloon moves into the curve..

(from Mathematical Carnival by Martin Gardner)

Comments: ( You must be logged in to post comments.)
  Subject Author Date
A practical applicationSteven Lord2020-12-09 20:31:31
re(3): SOLUTION IS WRONGSing4TheDay2008-12-23 14:35:40
Some Thoughtsre(2): SOLUTION IS WRONGJayDeeKay2007-05-09 18:54:24
re: SOLUTION IS WRONGAnsh2006-10-07 14:53:01
SOLUTION IS WRONGJud2005-08-11 13:26:52
re: No SubjectHugo2005-07-29 18:20:17
No SubjectJason Taylor2005-07-29 17:46:26
Re: 'Relativity' solutionFrançois2005-01-06 18:04:00
Solutionworthlessvije2004-12-29 14:58:29
scubaLarry2004-12-17 14:34:19
re: hmm....Sam2004-12-17 08:56:11
Solutionhmm....John2004-12-17 05:48:28
re(2): Solution (spoilers)Sing4TheDay2004-12-16 17:03:16
re: Same solution, different reasoningMichael Cottle2004-12-16 16:47:18
SolutionSame solution, different reasoningSam2004-12-16 15:52:59
re(3): Solution (spoilers)nikki2004-12-16 15:48:32
re(2): Solution (spoilers)Eric2004-12-16 15:20:51
Solutionre: Solution (spoilers)nikki2004-12-16 14:38:10
SolutionEric2004-12-16 13:40:40
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