Posted by: Green Knight | December 10, 2011

How Much Does Air Weigh?

No, this isn’t a trick question. Air is made up of gases, and they all weigh something. This is a little exercise I came up with in hazardous waste class years ago. All you need is a periodic table and a calculator. You know that helium is lighter than air, right? Fill up the balloon, and it floats upwards until you can’t see it anymore. You climate-change people should be able to come up with it. I await your solutions. I’ll have some weird observations to add on gases after we have a winner.

Oh, and here’s a fun little exercise to play around with regarding Dalton’s Law of partial pressures. When I first discovered it about 7 years ago and was playing around with the bulbs and pressures, the numbers weren’t coming up even close to correct, and I thought I was losing my touch. I e-mailed the creators at UC Davis, and it turned out that their program had been designed incorrectly, so they fixed it. Where’s my commission, lol?, just scroll to the bottom and have fun experimenting.

image courtesy of


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