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Q & A: Falling Balloons

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Does the Diameter of a round (Spherical) balloon affect the rate of its descent?
- Erin England (age 12)
Yorba Linda Middle School, Yorba Linda, CA
A:
Erin -

The diameter of a balloon most certainly does affect the rate of its descent. When a balloon falls, it is pulled downwards by gravity at the same rate as anything else (like a book or a rock) would be. But it is slowed down by air resistance. The less something weighs, the more air resistance will do to slow it down - this is why it affects a balloon much more than a rock. But the larger something is (size, not weight), the more air resistance it will feel. For this reason, a bigger balloon that has the same weight as a smaller balloon will fall slower than the smaller one since it (the bigger one) experiences more air resistance.

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

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