Karl Fogel

Karl Fogel at

I just want to reiterate one of the few absolutely unbending principles by which I think everyone should live their life:

If you got there in a balloon, then you didn't go to space.

It's that simple. The balloon is *above* you, and is buoyed by air. You aren't in space. QED.

humorous objection: even in interstellar space there are molecules of gas here and there; there's no abrupt boundary of the atmosphere, it's rather a progression from higher to lower density of gases.  plus, I pose that, whatever direction you choose as up, if you proceed on it long enough, you're quite likely to hit a body of hot "air", be it in the baloon or making up a distant star :-)

Alexandre Oliva at 2021-10-15T03:04:30Z

Though I think the chances of hitting a star, or any substantial body, if you head into space in some random direction are quite low -- not zero, but very close to zero.

Now, as for the "no abrupt boundary" issue: quite true, but surely it can be shown that there is an altitude above which no balloon that humans can realistically build could lift a human+capsule past that altitude!  :-)

But you *did* say "humorous objection", so perhaps

Karl Fogel at 2021-10-15T05:41:35Z

yeah, I was thinking about that.  if you follow a straight line, it might indeed be the case that you're more likely to get to the restaurant at the end of the universe ;-) than to a star, but then there are space-time distortions that might change the picture.  now, if the "up" direction is a cone rather than a uni-dimensional straight line, then perhaps the odds of encompassing a star or even a whole galaxy cluster may get closer to 1 than to 0.  I wonder what angle would be enough to make it a near certainty

you're most certainly right about the challenges of getting to outer space in a balloon.  as the atmosphere gets thinner, it becomes harder and harder for the equipment to be less dense than atmosphere, let alone for the density difference multiplied by the volume to balance out their slightly reduced weight

Alexandre Oliva at 2021-10-15T10:41:15Z