The History of Balloons

Geo Beats
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Learn about the history of balloons.

What is it about balloons that appeals to us - perhaps it's the idea of flight and our secret desire to fly just like them.

How someone came up with the idea for balloons has to be an interesting story - because if you think about it, they don't really serve a critical purpose in our life other than some mild entertainment use.

Many references point to the year 1300 when the concept of a balloon emerged.

Apparently the Aztecs in central and southern America constructed balloons from animal bladders and intestines.

The balloon size would depend on how large or small the animal was. Bowels of cats were frequently used and they cleaned and twisted inside out. Then the edges were sewn with a specific vegetable thread which would create an airtight seal. Before you get tempted, please remember your cat has feelings.

Even Pig’s bladders were often filled with water or air to appear like a ball. In 1709, a Portuguese priest held the first public exhibition showcasing an animal bladder which stretched when it filled with air.

Then in 1824, Professor Michael Faraday created a rubber balloon as part of an experiment involving hydrogen. Those rubber balloons made their way to America where they were sold in parks for about one cent each.

The experimentation with rubber led another man, J.G. Ingram to invent a balloon made with latex in 1847.

Balloons were originally filled with hydrogen gas, but it proved to be too dangerous due to the flammability. Balloon makers soon switched to utilizing helium after hydrogen ban in 1914.

The phenomenon rapidly spread and by the 1930s, balloons were being mass produced around the world.

So what's the lesson here - even something seemingly as elementary as a balloon took over 700 years to evolve to its current state.

Pop quiz time - you find balloons to be a) cheerful b) annoying c) get rid of them, they are causing helium shortage

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