See also Hot Air Balloons
A balloon is an inflatable flexible bag filled with a type of gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide or air.
Modern balloons can be made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, while some early balloons were sometimes made of dried animal bladders. Some balloons are purely decorative, while others are used for specific purposes such as meteorology, medical treatment, military defense, or transportation. A balloon's properties, including its low density and relatively low cost, have led to a wide range of applications.
The first balloon was invented by the Luso Brazilian priest (at 45 years of age) Bartolomeu de Gusmão (brother of the Luso Brazilian statesman Alexandre de Gusmão), and the first public exhibition was to the Portuguese Court on August 8, 1709, in the hall of the Casa da Índia in Lisbon.
The rubber balloon was invented by Michael Faraday in 1824; it was inflated with hydrogen and used in his experiments with that element. Rubber balloons were soon after sold for a penny a piece in parks and circuses in America. The more familiar latex balloons of today were first manufactured in London, 1847, by J.G. Ingram, but mass production did not occur until the 1930s. According to the Reader's Digest, children and adults send up roughly one billion balloons each year in celebration. Balloons are also often part of birthday celebrations.
Topics of Interest
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology and is a subset of balloon aircraft.
A toy balloon is an inflatable object which is often made of plastic or natural, biodegradable rubber.
A water balloon or water bomb is a latex rubber balloon filled with water. Because of how water balloons' latex breaks under stress, they are often thrown and launched at targets, resulting in wetness. They are commonly used in water balloon fights and as a practical joke device.
A balloon rocket is a balloon filled with air. Besides being simple toys, balloon rockets are a widely used teaching device to demonstrate physical principles and the functioning of a rocket.
To launch a simple rocket, a person releases the opening of a balloon, which is then propelled somewhat randomly by the escape of the air which creates thrust. The flight altitude amounts to some meters. The balloon rocket can be used easily to demonstrate simple physics, namely Newton’s third law.
A balloon aircraft is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. It is distinct from an airship, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner.
A weather balloon or sounding balloon is a balloon (specifically a type of high altitude balloon) which carries instruments aloft to send back information on atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity by means of a small, expendable measuring device called a radiosonde. To obtain wind data, they can be tracked by radar, radio direction finding, or navigation systems (such as the satellite based Global Positioning System also known as a GPS).
An aerobot is an aerial robot, usually used in the context of an unmanned space probe or unmanned aerial vehicle. While work has been done since the 1960s on robot "rovers" to explore the Moon and other worlds in the Solar system, such machines have limitations. They tend to be expensive and have limited range, and due to the communications time lags over interplanetary distances, they have to be smart enough to navigate without disabling themselves.For planets with atmospheres of any substance, however, there is an alternative: an autonomous flying robot, or "aerobot" Most aerobot concepts are based on aerostats, primarily balloons, but occasionally airships. Flying above obstructions in the winds, a balloon could explore large regions of a planet in great detail for relatively low cost. Airplanes for planetary exploration have also been proposed.
A balloon-carried light effect is a special effect carried by a balloon, which can be either fixed with a rope to the ground or which is free-flying.
A foam balloon is a special type of a gas-filled balloon. Strictly speaking a foam balloon is not a balloon, as it has no envelope, but consists of an organic material up-foamed with hydrogen or helium. Thus foam balloons cannot burst. However their carrying capacity is smaller than that of normal balloons. Foam balloons are manufactured as a rule directly at the place of the ascent with a special machine. The form of the foam balloon can be varied hereby. It is possible to create foam balloons with diameter of more than 1 meter. Identical foam balloons can be manufactured with the same machine in short repetition periods. Foam balloons are used frequently for advertising purposes, since they can be manufactured easily in the form of company symbols. In principle also wind conditions in the lower atmosphere can be easily monitored with their aid. Foam balloons are not long-term stable, but decay after some hours. Nevertheless they can reach heights of several kilometers.
A radiosonde (Sonde is French for probe) is a unit for use in weather balloons that measures various atmospheric parameters and transmits them to a fixed receiver. Radiosondes may operate at a radio frequency of 403 MHz or 1680 MHz and both types may be adjusted slightly higher or lower as required. A rawinsonde is a radiosonde that is designed to also measure wind speed and direction. Colloquially, rawinsondes are usually referred to as radiosondes.
A rockoon (a portmanteau of rocket and balloon) was an extension to the rocket, which allowed the rocket to achieve further distance. The rockoon was a solid fuel rocket that, rather than being immediately lit while on the ground, was first carried into the upper atmosphere by a gas-filled balloon, and then separated from the balloon when it had reached its maximum height and automatically ignited. This would allow the rocket to achieve a higher altitude, since the rocket did not have to move through the lower thicker air layers.
Speech balloons (also speech bubbles, dialogue balloons, or word balloons) are a graphic convention used most commonly in comic books, strips, and cartoons to allow words (and much less often, pictures) to be understood as representing the speech or thoughts of a given character in the comic. There is often a formal distinction between the balloon that indicates thoughts and the one that indicates words spoken aloud: the bubble that conveys subjective thoughts is often referred to as a thought balloon.
Balloon modelling or balloon twisting is the shaping of special modelling balloons into almost any given shape, often a balloon animal. People who create balloon animals and other twisted balloon sculptures are called Twisters. Twisters often work as busker, clowns, or restaurant entertainers.
A barrage balloon is a large balloon tethered with metal cables, used to defend against low-level attack by aircraft by damaging the aircraft on collision with the cables, or at least making the attacker's approach more difficult. Some versions carried small explosive charges that would be pulled up against the aircraft to ensure its destruction. Barrage balloons were only regularly employed against low-flying aircraft, the weight of a longer cable making them impractical for higher altitudes.
A balloon catheter is a type of "soft" catheter with an inflatable "balloon" at its tip which is used during a catheterization procedure to enlarge a narrow opening or passage within the body. The deflated balloon catheter is positioned, then inflated to perform the necessary procedure, and deflated again in order to be removed.
The Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) is a mechanical device that is used to decrease myocardial oxygen demand while at the same time increasing cardiac output. By increasing cardiac output it also increases coronary blood flow and therefore myocardial oxygen delivery. It consists of a cylindrical balloon that sits in the aorta and counterpulsates. That is, it actively deflates in systole increasing forward blood flow by reducing afterload thus, and actively inflates in diastole increasing blood flow to the coronary arteries. These actions have the combined result of decreasing myocardial oxygen demand and increasing myocardial oxygen supply. The balloon is inflated during diastole by a computer controlled mechanism, usually linked to either an ECG or a pressure transducer at the distal tip of the catheter; some IABPs, such as the Datascope System 98XT, allow for asynchronous counterpulsation at a set rate, though this setting is rarely used. The computer controls the flow of helium from a cylinder into and out of the balloon. Helium is used because its low viscosity allows it to travel quickly through the long connecting tubes, and has a lower risk of causing a harmful embolism should the balloon rupture while in use.
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