The Physics of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons – RHETT ALLAIN 11.26.15. 7:00 AM

Have you ever seen a child with a balloon? It’s fun to watch. Kids pay attention to the world around them: They know that when you let go of something, it falls. Balloons don’t follow these rules, and it’s that exception that makes balloons so fascinating.

But what about adults? We still love seeing things that don’t seem to follow our normal rules. Parade balloons seem to cheat physics in order to move through the sky. Of course, they aren’t cheating physics. It is because of physics that they are able to float.

Why Doesn’t the Balloon Fall?

There is indeed a force pulling down on these massive balloons. This gravitational force is proportional to the mass of the object. Both the outer material and the gas within have mass that results in a weight of perhaps 2,000 Newtons (450 pounds). Yet even with so great a downward force, the balloons stay aloft. There must be an upward force at work on the object. This is buoyancy force, and it is caused by a differential air pressure on the top and bottom of balloon.

You can think of the air as a bunch of balls bouncing around. When these air-balls hit a surface (like the side of a balloon), they bounce off. Since the ball changes momentum, it must be pushing against the balloon with some force. This force then depends on the number of air-balls that hit the surface as well as the speed and mass of the air-balls. But here’s the cool part. In order for all these air-balls to not just fall down on the ground, they must have more collisions in the upward direction than the downward direction. This means that as you go lower in the atmosphere, the density of air increases, resulting in greater pressure.

But how much does this air push on an object like a balloon? The easiest thing is to consider a block of air floating in air. Yes, that might seem silly but there is a reason for this. If there is no wind, that block of air in air should remain stationary. That means that the net force pushing on this air must be zero Newtons. Here is a diagram showing all the forces on this floating block of air.

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Gratitude Is Good For The Soul And It Helps The Heart, Too – Patricia Neighmond November 23, 20153:55 AM ET

Todd Davidson/Illustration Works/Corbis

Todd Davidson/Illustration Works/Corbis

As we launch into Thanksgiving week, consider this: Research shows that feeling grateful doesn’t just make you feel good. It also helps – literally helps – the heart.

A positive mental attitude is good for your heart. It fends of depression, stress and anxiety, which can increase the risk of heart disease, says Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Mills specializes in disease processes and has been researching behavior and heart health for decades. He wondered if the very specific feeling of gratitude made a difference, too.

So he did a study. He recruited 186 men and women, average age 66, who already had some damage to their heart, either through years of sustained high blood pressure or as a result of heart attack or even an infection of the heart itself. They each filled out a standard questionnaire to rate how grateful they felt for the people, places or things in their lives.

It turned out the more grateful people were, the healthier they were. “They had less depressed mood, slept better and had more energy,” says Mills.

And when Mills did blood tests to measure inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury or plaque buildup in the arteries, he found lower levels among those who were grateful — an indication of better heart health.

So Mills did a small followup study to look even more closely at gratitude. He tested 40 patients for heart disease and noted biological indications of heart disease such as inflammation and heart rhythm. Then he asked half of the patients to keep a journal most days of the week, and write about two or three things they were grateful for. People wrote about everything, from appreciating children to being grateful for spouses, friends, pets, travel, jobs and even good food.

After two months, Mills retested all 40 patients and found health benefits for the patients who wrote in their journals. Inflammation levels were reduced and heart rhythm improved. And when he compared their heart disease risk before and after journal writing, there was a decrease in risk after two months of writing in their journals. Those results have been submitted to a journal, but aren’t yet published.

Mills isn’t sure exactly how gratitude helps the heart, but he thinks it’s because it reduces stress, a huge factor in heart disease.

“Taking the time to focus on what you are thankful for,” he says, “letting that sense of gratitude wash over you — this helps us manage and cope.”

And helps keep our hearts healthy.

HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FAMILY’S THANKSGIVING ARGUMENTS – Editor: Eleanor Barkhorn Designer: Tyson Whiting Developer: Yuri Victor

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at Nov 27, 2014 6.03

Thanksgiving is upon is. Families will gather this week to eat, drink, reminisce — and, inevitably, argue about what’s going on in the news. Here are some topics that are likely to come up at your family’s feast, and some pointers for how to respond to what your relatives may say.

In Confronting Poverty, ‘Harvest Of Shame’ Reaped Praise And Criticism – by ELIZABETH BLAIR May 31, 2014 5:22 AM ET





Harvest of Shame first aired in 1960, the day after Thanksgiving.

Fifty years ago this year, President Lyndon Johnson launched his war on poverty; But just a few years before that, CBS gave millions of Americans a close look at what it means to live in poverty.

In the world of journalism, CBS’ Peabody Award-winning documentaryHarvest of Shame is considered a milestone for its unflinching examination of the plight of migrant farmworkers in the United States. The CBS investigative report was the first time millions of Americans were given a close look at what it means to live in poverty. The producers — Fred Friendly, Edward R. Murrow and David Lowe — made no secret of their goal: They wanted to shock Americans into action. To maximize its impact, CBS aired the documentary — about the people who pick fruits and vegetables — the day after Thanksgiving. Murrow, perhaps the most recognized journalist of the day, delivered their message with a sense of urgency. “We present this report on Thanksgiving because, were it not for the labor of the people you are going to meet, you might not starve, but your table would not be laden with the luxuries that we have all come to regard as essentials,” he said in his narration.

Harvest of Shame begins in an open lot, crowded with men and women looking for jobs. It’s what’s called a “shape-up” for migrant workers. Crew leaders yell out the going rate for that day’s pay and men and women pack onto the backs of large trucks that drive them to the fields. One farmer told CBS, “We used to own our slaves. Now we just rent them.”

The film is full of vivid, black and white images reminiscent of Depression-era photographers Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. In it, African-Americans and whites; weary mothers, fathers and their children recount their stories to producer Lowe. Sitting with her nine children, one woman tells Lowe that an average dinner is a pot of beans or potatoes. As for milk, she reluctantly admits the children might have it once a week, when she draws a paycheck.

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How to Say ‘Thank You’ Like a Fashion Person BY LAUREN SHERMAN 11/27/13 at 1:00 PM

It’s the season of gifting and showing gratitude, starting with Thanksgiving. Whether you’re spending the holidays with members of the family or new acquaintances, chances are you’ll need to come up with a token (or two) of thanks. From flowers and candles to loaves of bread and weird plants, we polled fashion people — fromTabitha Simmons to Peter Som — to see what they give to show their gratitude. Click through our slideshow to see their gifts.

See the gifts here: