Around 220 AD, the Ancient Chinese invented the lanterns to signal for messages during the military operations. These lanterns had a small opening at the bottom where a small fire was lit. The smoke from the fire helped lift the lantern from the ground and float in the air. These were the first ancient balloons!
The rubber balloon that we know today was first discovered by a scientist Michael Faraday. Faraday made rubber bags during one of his experiments and filled it with gas in order to study it. The rubber bags were made out of two round rubber sheets laid together. The edges of the sheets were pressed which caused them to stick to each other. He then lined the rubber bag with flour to prevent them for sticking together.
When he filled the bag with gas he noticed that the bag became elastic and started to expand. With expansion, it became transparent and started to ascend in the air. After a year, toy balloons were manufactured just like we know them today!
The rubber balloons were not a new concept though. They were the miniature version of the big hot air balloons that were first launched by a scientist Pilatre De Rosier in 1783. These balloons were so big that they could carry passengers. But surprisingly the first passengers on it were not humans, instead there was a sheep, a duck and a rooster! The balloon flew for 15 minutes and unfortunately crashed.
The first human passenger attempt came after two months by two brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier. The balloon was launched from Paris and flew for 20 minutes and did not crash. This was the start of hot air ballooning!
After two years, Jean Pierre Blancher and his co- pilot John Jefferies were the first to fly through a balloon across the English Channel. It was a huge step and created a bench mark in the history of balloons!
Balloon dueling is also a thing! De Grandpre and Le Pique fought a duel on hot air balloons over a girl. Unfortunately Le Pique balloon was shot and he died in that crash.
Balloons were used in wars! Observation balloons were used by Napoleon in his battles and in World War I by the military to keep a check and look out for the competing forces.
Once balloons were discovered, it proved enormously valuable to science. Helium Balloons have been used on other planets too! In 1985, Russian Space Investigation used helium balloons to transport atmosphere measuring instruments to Venus!
The pop sound which comes upon the bursting of a balloon is caused because the air in the balloon is at higher pressure than the environment. Upon bursting, the air inside the balloon gets a chance to expand at a high speed which creates a sound wave of a BANG!
With the environment depleting at high rate, good news is that latex or rubber balloons are biodegradable. They are said to decompose within 6 months to a year. Latex balloons come from rubber tree which keeps on producing latex. The latex is obtained through a tree bark and gathered for use. Latex harvesting does not hurt the tree, it is just like collecting fruits.
Air balloons can be quite noisy when the burner is turned on. But when the burner it turned off, the balloon flows in the direction of the wind which makes it very quiet and noiseless as there is no wind noise.
Balloons are used in medicine too! A surgical procedure called angioplasty uses tiny balloons that are inserted into a blocked blood vessel. After insertion the balloon is then inflated to clear the plaque buildup and stretch the vessel wall.
Hot air balloons are made of cane or rattan weaved together and the floors are made of plywood. These materials are light weighted and makes the balloon flow easily.
Releasing balloons has become a part of many events and celebrations. The colorful sky looks great and people love to wave them away. What happens after the balloon is released is that it flows into high elevation and bursts when the pressure level changes. The scattered pieces which are spaghetti like which drop down to the land again.
Hot air balloons cannot fly in the rain! The rain water gets accumulated at the top which makes the balloon cooler resulting in the use of extra fuel. Also it gets harder to control the balloon in rain due to the extra weight of water which is accumulated making it a tad risky.