I WAS THERE! How David Blaine flew helium balloons to the height of jets (and jumped) | Summary and Q&A

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September 4, 2020
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Physics Girl
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I WAS THERE! How David Blaine flew helium balloons to the height of jets (and jumped)

TL;DR

David Blaine plans to ascend as high as possible using a cluster of colorful balloons and then skydive back down, facing challenges like thinning air, colder temperatures, and oxygen deprivation.

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Key Insights

  • 🤢 The "Death Zone" is 26,000 feet above sea level, where there isn't enough oxygen for humans to survive.
  • ✋ At high altitudes, the air becomes thinner, leading to conditions like high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and persistent coughing.
  • 🫢 Gases expand as altitude increases, causing balloons used in the stunt to grow in size.
  • 🩸 Decompression sickness, also known as the bends, occurs when gases bubble out of the blood due to a drop in pressure, but this is not a concern for David Blaine's planned heights.
  • 🦶 Cabins in commercial airplanes are pressurized to about 8,000 feet to ensure passenger comfort and oxygen levels.
  • 💦 As altitude increases, the temperature drops; however, at the heights David Blaine plans to reach, temperatures won't be a significant concern.
  • 💀 Ascending to extremely high altitudes, such as 2 million feet, is not feasible due to lack of oxygen, danger of frostbite, and absence of atmosphere.

Transcript

♪ Soft, mellow music ♪ - [Dianna] We are here at a warehouse in Porterville, California. That is David Blaine hanging from a cluster of very colorful balloons. David Blaine. Yes. That David Blaine. - [David] The cards will just jump out of the deck. Oh, wait, and it landed under your watch. - (man laughing) - [Dianna] He's up to something new and u... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What altitudes is David Blaine aiming to reach with his balloon stunt?

David Blaine's realistic goal is 15 to 20,000 feet, but his stretch goal is 25,000 feet.

Q: What challenges will David Blaine face as he ascends into higher altitudes?

David Blaine will face challenges such as thinner air, lower temperatures, and lower oxygen levels.

Q: Why don't commercial airplane passengers experience decompression sickness at high altitudes?

Commercial airplane cabins are pressurized to about 8,000 feet, which helps maintain a suitable amount of oxygen for passengers, preventing decompression sickness.

Q: How does David Blaine prepare to combat low oxygen levels during his balloon stunt?

David Blaine uses breathing techniques, specifically purging, to increase his oxygen intake and build a resistance to CO2 buildup in his bloodstream.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • David Blaine is attempting to reach high altitudes using a cluster of colorful weather balloons and then skydive back down.

  • His realistic goal is 15 to 20,000 feet in the atmosphere, while his stretch goal is 25,000 feet.

  • As he ascends, he will face challenges such as thinner air, lower temperatures, and low oxygen levels.

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