The most commonly used keyword to tag stories on this site is “floating”. Second is “helium”. So clearly there’s some interest in the subject. It’s fairly common for people in inflation stories to be filled with helium to the point of becoming airborne. How much helium this requires varies widely from story to story.

So today we address the question: How much helium would it really take to make someone float?

Short answer: a lot.

The long answer involves some math.


“Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”
    Robert DeNiro as Neil McCauly, Heat (1995)

This quote has nothing to do with this blog post. I just like Heat.

Heat makes things expand. This occasionally gets used as a plot device in inflation stories. So today we’ll be taking a look at thermal expansion.


I spend a lot of time thinking about geeky things. This probably isn’t surprising. Also unsurprisingly, a lot of this geekly energy is directed toward inflation.

For example: Water can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen. There have been a few inflation stories that have made use of this device. But have you ever wondered how much expansion results from turning water into hydrogen and oxygen gas?

You probably haven’t, but I have. Yes, this is the sort of silliness I sometimes ponder when working out story plots. Gird thy loins, there’s math afoot.

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