Balloon in a Car


You are sitting in a motionless car, which is tightly sealed, i.e. no open windows, holes in the car, etc. A helium balloon on a string is tied to the floor. If you start accelerating the car, is the balloon going to move back, forward, or stay in place?

The reason the balloon floats up in the air is that the helium has lower density, so when gravity pulls the denser air around down, the ballon gets pushed up. Similarly, when the car accelerates, the air around gets drawn to the back of the car, which makes the helium ballon go forward.