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Homework Help: How many helium balloons does it take to lift a person?

  1. May 18, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    How many helium-filled balloons would it take to lift a person? Assume the person has a mass of 76 kg and that each helium-filled balloon is spherical with a diameter of 33 cm.

    2. Relevant equations

    P = P0 + ρgV

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I really don't know why this is confusing me, since it seems pretty straight forward. But, I know that the buoyant force has to be equal to at least the mass of the person (M) + the mass of the helium in all the balloons (m)

    which means that FB = Mg + mg

    and the buoyant force is due to the helium, so, in order for the person to be lifted,

    ρHegV = Mg + mg

    so ρHeV = M + m

    which is

    ρHeVHe = M + ρairVHe


    So then M/(ρHe - ρair) = V

    but this would be negative....What I am doing wrong?

    (I don't need help with the last part which is finding the number of balloons)

  2. jcsd
  3. May 18, 2012 #2
    Wait, I have the density of the air and the helium switched, right? The buoyant force is due to the air and not the helium? Because the air is the fluid that it is in?

    This is probably an easy question, but I'm pretty sleep deprived haha
  4. May 20, 2012 #3


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    Homework Helper

    Yes, exactly...

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