How many balloons to lift a person – science or art?

The Opera House is advertising an event where called Cherophobia, billed as “A meditative, one-off attempt to lift the artist’s bound and immobilised body with 20,000 balloons.”

Now call me a soul-less curmudgeon but here’s the maths. A party balloon holds about 14l of helium. Each liter of helium can lift about 1g of bound and immobilised artist. So the simple maths says if you want to work out how many balloons are needed to lift a person take their weight in grams and divide by 14. So I’d need 4,643 balloons to lift my 65Kg if we ignore the weights of the strings used to attach the balloons.

Thus 20,000 balloons is certain to lift even the heaviest of bound and immobilised artists unless they are doing their binding and immobilising using very heavy chains (or to be accurate the balloons might be small ones and contain less than the average 14l of helium).

On a more serious note, having recently visited the Phillip Island penguin colony, I hope they’ll get rid of the 20,000 balloons responsibly: when balloons fly, penguins die.

Anyway to see if maths triumphs over a bound and immobilised artist head on over to the Opera House on Sunday 3 September between 8am and 5pm for a free viewing. Details here.

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