Menu Close

Question 6: When you release an inflated   (پھولا ہوا ۔۔۔ پڑسیدلے) but untied balloon, why does it fly across the room?


Two concepts need to be understood; pressure and conservation of momentum.

Pressure results from the density of molecules of the air (number of molecules per unit volume). As the number of molecules is more inside the balloon than the exterior surrounding (sure, we talk of number of molecules per unit volume), therefore, pressure inside the balloon is more than in the external areas. Again, air molecules rush to the area of low pressure, like water flows from a higher place to a lower one. (And this is the main cause of climatic winds!). So when the balloon is untied, the gas molecules speedily rush out to the low pressure area.

Why does the balloon fly across the room, then? We know about the law of conservation of momentum. (State it). The escaping air molecules and balloon constitute an approximately isolated system. The momentum must be conserved! When the air molecules escape, they get a momentum, say pm. As initially, the system has a zero momentum, therefore, the law of conservation of momentum demands the momentum of the whole system to be zero. The balloon with the remaining number of molecules pushes in a direction opposite to the escaping molecules acquiring a momentum pb. This momentum of the balloon must be equal to the total momentum of the escaping air molecules. Therefore, the balloon fly across the room.

Observation: Initially, the balloon pushes back with greater velocity and slows down. This is because due to high pressure in the balloon, the molecules escape with high velocities and number in the beginning. Therefore, the total momentum is larger. As a result, the balloon also pushes back with a high speed. When the number of molecules decreased in the balloon, its pressure also decreases. And the number of molecules escaping the balloon and their speeds decrease. This decreases the total momentum of the molecules. This way, the momentum of the balloon also decreases.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback:Conceptual Questions Forces and Motion, Physics 11 – msa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *