It’s a question I’ve asked myself ever since I first saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: what could be inside the eccentric candymaker’s “Fizzy Lifting Drinks,” and would it really be possible to float after drinking them? Let’s take a detour from the world of pure imagination for a moment and see if we could make a mass-producible flotation refreshment in real life.
In honor of Gene Wilder, my latest Because Science takes a look at Wonka’s famous beverage. If Fizzy Lifting Drinks were real, they would probably use the lightest gas in the universe instead of carbon dioxide: hydrogen. What we would have to figure out then is how well hydrogen mixes into soda (which is mostly water), how much weight hydrogen can lift, and finally, how many bottles would hold all of that hydrogenated soda. The end result would be a very full but airborne Charlie.
So could a hydrogen-infused soft drink really lift Charlie’s mass up off the ground and towards the ceiling (that has to be washed and disinfected, etc., etc.), and if so, how many orders would it take to do so? You’ll have to watch my latest episode above to find out… Science because. Strike that, reverse it.
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