Full of Hot Air
Willie Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting Drink Scientifically Unworkable
By Phoebe Huberty
In today’s society, the
entertainment industry will do anything to get people’s attention and,
therefore, their money. No one cares if anything in movies or in books is
accurate as long as it holds their attention. One example of this is in the
story "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," when Charlie, the protagonist, and
his grandfather sneak away from Willy Wonka’s tour of the factory and steal a
little "fizzy lifting" drink.
The result of
consuming this drink is that of floating up, up and away until one begins to
burp. This is not scientifically accurate for many reasons. One cubic foot of
hydrogen, the lightest element in gas form, provides 1.02 ounces of lift.
Therefore, for hydrogen to lift an average adult man of 191 lbs, a total of
roughly 3056 cubic feet of gas would be necessary. This is about the same amount
of air as in a two-car garage. This amount of air is impossible to fit into the
human body, even if all of the bones, blood and organs are removed.
beverages give off one cubic foot of CO in 3.72 gallons of fluid. If
the fizzy lifting drink gives off the same amount of gas per gallon, the
above-mentioned man would have to drink about 11,370 gallons (or 1,520 ft[3)
of fizzy lifting drink to obtain the necessary amount of hydrogen to lift him.
This amount of liquid could not fit in the human body. The amount of gas in this
amount of liquid would be equivalent to 4,575.89 cubic feet. In addition to
adding volume, this amount of liquid would add weight. This would require even
more gas for lift, which would have to come from more liquid, and so on in an
In conclusion, the
fizzy lifting drink was only included in the story of "Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory" to help the plot and to hold readers’ attention. In order for this
drink to work, it would have to give off more gas than a carbonated beverage
does, and its gas would have to be lighter than hydrogen. It is impossible for a
human to hold the volume of liquid and gas necessary to lift the body.