This week on the National Geographic Channel, the answer to that eternal question (providing "eternal" means "since 2009 when the movie came out"): Can we really build a house like the one from Pixar's Up, able to float by balloon power alone? On an episode of "How Hard Can It Be?" that aired this week, a team of builders (including frequent PopSci contributor Vin Marshall) actually built a house capable of being lifted--with people aboard--by balloons.
The team found that it is essentially impossible to lift an ordinary house with balloons (do your research, Pixar!), but that a small, extremely lightweight house can in fact be lifted with a world-record-breaking cluster of high-capacity weather balloons, around 300 in number. That house floated some 10,000 feet above California's high desert back in March, with two inhabitants inside. Check out video below:
That's only one of three "How Hard Can It Be?" episodes airing this week. This Wednesday at 8PM, there's a new episode that finds Vin and the team building a DIY, remote-controlled submersible that can dive to depths of 12,000 feet. Check it out on the National Geographic Channel.
This is very important research, I am glad to know that Disney's movies can be real life, Wall-e here we come?!
I hope they took parachutes!
We thought they were going to have parachutes also - but they said that they wouldn't ever fly anything they thought they were going to have to jump out of, so we dotted every i and crossed every t on this thing. Also, every pound counted.
No such thing as nothing to chance....also have a back up plan....if you really went 10000 feet in the air with no safety back up if something went terrible wrong such as parachutes to simply strap on and jump out well....just not smart don't care who you are...but its your life...either way this is really cool
Our balloonists were both cautious, methodical, experienced balloon pilots AND world record holding badasses - quite a combination. They had a system and we weren't about to mess with it.
I suppose it's along the same lines as hot air balloonists, who also don't seem to carry chutes. I took my first ever hot air balloon ride, chasing the house, and I wasn't wearing a chute either - just my tux.
But yeah, the whole thing was really, really cool. Totally surreal as well.
lol....I could see the balloons being fine and the floor falling out from under you....awesome balloonist bad carpenters lol now that would be classic....
It was either in the back of POPSCI or POPMECHANIC magazine, I used to read of a business that sold giant balloons with the advertisement move big heavy objects or things around your house as you need. I wonder if anyone else remembers reading about these old advertisements for giant balloons?
Well, I am glad nobody got hurt in this funny little house flying balloon experiment. I wonder how this story would of been written should something had gone terribly wrong and would this experiment been considered worth doing then?
Would have been more interesting with ordinary balloons.
Everyone knows you can lift stuff with weather balloons. Remember the lawn chair guy?
So I read about them going up. I even watch the video about them going up and saw some of them a little nervous. I heard they do not have parachutes too. But interesting enough, I fail to read about how they will get down safely.
I guess I can assume they got down safely, but I am curious how this was achieved in a planned safe manner. I mean really, my question does have merit.
That's a good question @mp. As much as Gocke and I pushed for a .22 rifle, the balloonists insisted on a more refined method. The entire rigging system was designed so that individual balloons and whole clusters of balloons could be released from the house. That ability to shed lift combined with dumping ballast (sand) to gain lift let them control their altitude.
You'll see how it all worked if you watch the episode - it's on again next Wednesday at 8pm on Nat Geo.
Encore show times:
Up House - Wed October 12 at 8pm ET/PT
Homemade Rocket - Wed October 19 at 8pm ET/PT
DIY Robo-Sub - Wed October 26 at 8pm ET/PT
And don't forget - the premier of the robo-sub (ROV) episode is tonight (Wednesday Oct 5th) at 8pm EST / PST.
THIS JUST IN - Showtime for the DIY ROBO SUB episode has been changed to 7pm EST / PST tonight.
When I die, dear Lord, let me be a ballon and travel to you in the galaxy of Orion. The journey would be splendid! uP! uP! aND aWAY! i aM dIFFERENT tHAT wAY!