Artist Noëmi Lakmaier is going to spend two entire days of her life hanging in the sky, held up by nothing but helium balloons — 20,000 helium balloons.
Hanging for days
She’s calling her upcoming installation “Cherophobia,” which is the term for a psychological condition where a person has a fear of happiness.
It doesn’t seem like a long time, but hanging in the air for 48 hours — two full days — with no control or ability to do anything other than just hang there will have to feel like an eternity.
And speaking of eternities…
It’s going to take a long time to inflate 20,000 helium balloons! In fact, it’s so much work that Lakmaier will have 20 teams of 3 working in shifts to inflate each balloon, one at a time, which will then be tied to her.
So, will 20,000 helium balloons be enough to lift Lakmaier? Selling helium balloons in your store? Get a free helium quote from Zephyr.
Number of helium balloons needed
The formula for how much a standard helium balloon (the 11-12-inch latex type) is very straightforward when calculated using the metric system: One liter of helium can lift one gram.
Simple! So, we need to first convert the weight of a person to grams.
A pound equals 453.6 grams. Let’s choose a nice, round number of 150 pounds. (We have no idea what Noëmi Lakmaier weighs, nor are we estimating; we’re simply choosing a round, midrange weight of any average-sized person for the sake of simplifying this example.)
So, 150 x 453.6 = 68,040 grams. We now have the weight of a 150-lb. person in grams.
The standard latex balloon holds about 14 liters of helium. To figure out how many helium balloons will lift our 150-pound person, we use the following formula:
Person’s weight in grams ÷ 14 = Number of helium balloons needed to lift the person
Plugging in the numbers, we get: 68,040 ÷ 14 = 4,860.
So, the minimum number of helium balloons needed to lift a 150-pound person is 4,860.
Lakmaier’s event could get interesting before it even officially starts, given that she is going to use nearly FIVE TIMES that number of helium balloons. If she ends up using the full 20,000 balloons she’s committed to, she’s going to need to be tethered or held down for quite some time to avoid floating away before all of the balloons can be attached to her.
We shall see! The event will take place in London in September 2016 and will be streamed live for the entire time.