The Curious Case of the Xenon Balloon – Learn Density Science : Video

A gas balloon is a non-motorized balloon inflated with a gas lighter than air, usually hydrogen (a gaseous form of hydrogen), lighting gas, or helium, unlike a hot air balloon, whose envelope is inflated with hot air. Although, mates, have you ever wondered why the hydrogen gas-balloon rises in the sky? But why not a Xenon gas-balloon? In other words, why do different gases have different attributes or characteristics? What happens if you inflate a balloon with Xenon gas, Nitrogen gas or krypton gas? Will they rise or fall? Doesn’t sound very exciting?

If you fill some balloons with different gases with the same measurement of gas, the balloons will fall or rise at different speeds. What is the logic behind it? Let’s understand this concept by watching and learning from a unique and questioning science-chemistry experiment by periodic videos posted on Youtube titled…

 “The Curious Case of the Xenon Balloon”

The great mad scientist and British Chemist Dr Professor Martyn Poliakoff needed a Xenon Gas filled-balloon for his workplace, as he thought that the xenon gas has heavy atoms and so the balloon would stay inflated continuing for a longer timespan.

So the professor asked his University of Nottingham and Periodic Videos team to inflate some balloons with the remaining gases in their workroom: Xenon, neon, krypton, and nitrogen for this experiment.

And he also imagined, when all the balloons were dropped, the xenon-balloon fell at a faster speed than the other gas-balloons of similar measurement.

Which Balloon Is Heavier? The Different Density Of Gases

Folks, every gas has a different density. Hence, before we go ahead, we must understand the molar masses. Which is expressed in grams per mole.

  • Xenon Xe:                   131.29 g/mol
  • Krypton Kr:                  83.911498 g/mol
  • Nitrogen N2:                28.014 g/mol
  • Neon Ne:                     20.179 g/mol

All gases serve a great law: equal volumes of different gases at the same pressure and same temperature hold the equivalent number of the atoms or particles or molecules (but they don’t have the very mass).

If you inflate four different balloons with the same quantity of the above mentioned four gases, each balloon will have the same amount of gas. So there is the equal number of molecules or atoms in the inside-air of each balloon too.

Concretely, in each of these volumes, taking into account the molar masses, each gas of the inflated balloon has a different molar mass. We have four different balloons with four different gases as we explained before; let’s find out which balloon will rise or fall by studying their chemistry.

  • Neon has very less molar mass just 20.179 g/mol. So, Neon is lighter than the other three gases. So, it lifts a balloon, for example, Helium gas;
  • Nitrogen has molar mass 28.014 g/mol. Nitrogen is slightly lighter than air just 3%  lighter than Earth’s atmosphere (air); The balloon floats with the air, but the gas doesn’t lift the balloon.
  • Krypton has molar mass 83.911498 g/mol.  Krypton is about 3 times heavier than Earth’s atmosphere (air). Hence, the balloon falls to the floor.
  • Xenon has denser molar mass 131.29 g/mol.  Therefore, Xenon is 4.5 times heavier than Earth’s atmosphere (air). It falls to the ground immediately.

Why “Periodic Videos” Became Popular?

Professor Martyn Poliakoff and his colleagues at the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham make the periodic table more alive, and more “explosive,” thanks to the “Periodic Table of Videos” posted online on a dedicated site PeriodicVideos.

Each of the 118 elements of the periodic table is thus presented in its own video, a few minutes long, composed of a mixture of explanations given in most cases by Professor Poliakoff and demonstrations carried out by his colleagues in the chemistry department.

As soon as it was placed online, the “Periodic Videosbecame very popular; thanks to the explosive nature of the demonstrations carried out: a mixture of sodium and air, liquid oxygen and cotton, etc. By clicking on the hypertext link of each element, the internet users can directly consult the video devoted to the element that interests them. Some of the films feature experiments that are no longer performed in school science classes for safety reasons.

The videos are dedicated for a large audience: according to Professor Poliakoff, “It is not only about recruiting students for the university but it is also about stimulating an interest in science among all schoolchildren, especially those who are studying for their GCSE” (the UK equivalent of the college certificate). The videos will remain available online to provide an ongoing source of information for chemistry students and enthusiasts in the discipline.

The “Periodic Videos” derives from the Test-Tube project carried out at the University of Nottingham: implemented by Brady Haran, a journalist in residence at the university. This project presents research work carried out in Nottingham online on the Internet, explained by the scientists themselves, “in their own words “.

An Important Role Of Sir Harry Kroto

Sir Harold Walter Kroto is known as Harry Kroto, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry who has always been very involved in the dissemination of scientific information to young people supports the initiative which he says constitutes “An excellent use of the new dynamics of communication for education.”

Therefore, in the last, gas is also a natural object of our planet. And, all heavy objects (solid, liquid or gas) fall before light ones with a different speed. So, the gas which is heavier than the air falls and lighter than the atmosphere rises. Hope you liked our post and video The Curious Case of the Xenon Balloon. Keep visiting and stay Smart, Sharp, and Focused!

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