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Chinese Egg Balloon

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Testing out the idea of a balloon made from a hallowed out egg.


According to the Chinese book Ten Thousand Infallible Arts of the Prince of Huai-Nan, written around 150 BC, someone did an experiment to get an eggshell to rise into the air. They blew the yolk and white out of the shell through a small hole (as people do to make Easter eggs). Then they stuck some burning weeds through the hole into the shell. The air inside the shell got hotter, because hot air rises. The eggshell got so light that the wind was able to lift the eggshell and it flew through the air. This couldn’t really work – it’s not enough hot air to lift an eggshell. But the story shows that by 150 BC people in China knew that hot air rises and were interested in using this fact to make things fly.


As commonly described I agree with most that think it couldn't work due to the weight of the shell.

One thought on the balloon front was to remove the hard shell with a vinegar bath. Results in a decent membrane but the egg tore apart on me as I tried to subsequently remove the egg white/yolk. Think what might work is to remove the egg white/yolk first and then to use the vinegar. Thinking piping in hot air might work from that point on. I can't see direct exposure to flame as being possible.

Did manage to get a hard hallowed egg to serve as a pressure vessel though and even pop about a bit as the wax sealing the hole melted and the steam came out. With a careful setup might be able to function as a brief steam rocket. Does keep water surprisingly well against the force of gravity, even without the wax being added.

Kind of weird but an interesting little project.

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