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Large NASA scientific balloons

superpressure balloon

NASA photo

NASA photo.

Weather balloons

Pretty puff of dust. A High-School project.




Hydraulic hose for construction vehicles

"Bang!" coming. Then construction.

Frozen can

This is why: you avoid wrapping your hand around a frozen can.

Party balloons

Oil weakens latex, causing latex ballon-like things to burst.

Food bag


This is why: you microwave eggs either under water, or without their shells.

This is why: eye protection. Reminder: it could have burst at any time, like when put on the counter.


Big cells

White blood cells. Red blood cells are hard to see once they pop.

Some cell from a pond.


A bacteria is a bag in a ball - the cell membrane and the cell wall. The bag is pressurized (like 3 to 25 atm - like a soda bottle), and the wall keeps if from bursting. The wall is continually being renovated - torn apart and rebuilt. Many antibiotic drugs work by interfering with the renovation. If rebuilding slows, the wall weakens, and the bacteria bursts.

A bacteria also pops after being hijacked by a bacteriophage virus. It makes something like a hundred new viruses, and then makes lysin, and pops.

Errata: The video description (2015-Dec) on YouTube is wrong: penicillin doesn't increase the pressure, it weakens the wall.


Viruses are hollow balls. Hollow balls stuffed with string. RNA or DNA string. To hijack cells, some viruses inject their string, others sneak inside and break open.

Bacteriophages are DNA viruses that attack bacteria by injection. Their balls are high pressure (like 50 atm - 10x more than a soda bottle, but 3x less than a SCUBA or welding tank). Often the balls burst before they get a chance to inject anything.

Cartoon of loading a bacteriophage DNA virus. Real molecules jiggle a lot - that's not shown.

I didn't find a burst video. ☹ Here is a picture.

If the virus ball has an injection stick, sometimes it breaks off. Or the ball bursts. From this paper by De Paepe and Taddei.

Here are cartoons of someone using a tiny bead to poke, tear, and crush empty virus balls. And heat to melt one. These are small balls of the kind that fall-apart. Not a burst, but fun.




melt. The ball itself is made of protein strings. Heat them, and they unclump. That's part of why we cook food.


Things of different sizes, all bursting. From big science balloons, to viruses.

Weather balloons

Camera goes up - pop - parachutes down.


Bursts like a soda can.

Party balloons

burst like weather balloons.





are pressurized.

Hard on the outside, stringy on the inside.

What else bursts? Some magma chambers and volcanos. Molecular cages, assembling and disassembling. What are your favorites? What is like bursting, but kind of different?