Riddle: I am lighter than air but a hundred people cannot lift me. Careful, I am fragile. What am I?




Riddle Robot Eyezak has outdone himself this time, because this Conundrum is way trickier than normal! First we should break it down into smaller parts and see if it becomes easier to identify possible answers that we can test. Here is the list of requirements we can extract from the Conundrum itself:

  • must be lighter than air
  • 100 people cannot lift it
  • it must be fragile

Instead of our normal approach of coming up with a list of possible answers and ruling them out one at a time, we are going to try something new. We are going to talk about each of the items in the list above in order of obscurity. First we should talk about the elephant in the room, 100 people.

100 People

This Conundrum says that 100 people cannot lift it, but that it is light. This seems impossible right? Let us break this down a bit, because there is a reason that this is true. First, what could cause 100 people to not be able to lift something?

Well obviously if the thing was extremely heavy, 100 people could not lift it. But the Conundrum specifically says that it is light, so that cannot be it. Next we could consider that it might be small. Being small would prevent 100 people from lifting it, because 100 people would not fit around it in a way that they could all touch it.

That being said, there are ways for the power of 100 people to be put into lifting a small object. For instance, we could use a Block and Tackle pulley system to lift the small object on one end of the rope, while 100 people pull the other end of the rope. This however requires that the small object be sturdy enough to withstand the pressure of being pulled up by a rope. The thing we need though cannot be lifted by a rope like this though. Thus it needs to not be sturdy.

So we need something that is small and we need to to be not so sturdy, because we cannot use a rope in a Block and Tackle pulley system to lift it. The other part of our Conundrum is that it is fragile, so that kind of works well with these requirements. We should move on to the next condition: must be lighter than air.

Lighter than Air

The Conundrum specifically points out that the answer must be lighter than air. All this really means is that it must float when in the standard air concentration that we find outside on Earth. We also need to remember that it needs to be “small” and “not-so sturdy” or “fragile”, based on the last condition we discussed. A few things come to mind for this one: balloons, feathers, & bubbles.

Balloons, when inflated, actually can rise in the midst of normal air. We could call that being “lighter than air” for sure. Balloons are however sturdy, at least to the point that they can be attached to ropes and still be fine. After all, floating balloons at fairs are usually given to us attached to some sort of rope, so that we can prevent them from flying away. That is probably not the answer to this Conundrum because of this.

Feathers do not actually float upwards, so they are not really lighter than air; however they do float slowly down, and some people, possible even Eyezak the Riddle Robot, might consider them as lighter than air. But they do not meet the fragile requirement. Have you ever tried to break a feather in half. It is a pretty difficult task. We should rule it out because of this fact alone.

Bubbles on the other hand do float, even with regular carbon-dioxide or oxygen in them. That does satisfy this lighter than air condition of our conundrum. Riddle Robot Eyezak would say so anyways. This is shaping up to be a good candidate for being the answer of our conundrum. We should test the last criteria.


This Conundrum was answered by a bubble. The picture is of a large soap bubble!

Bubbles are pretty fragile and not-so sturdy! Have you ever touched a bubble? They break when they come in contact with almost anything, including a hand or rope. This means that they satisfy the last condition of our Conundrum, and therefore are the most likely answer.

Bubbles satisfy all three parts of our riddle. They are lighter than air. If anything was ever fragile, it is a bubble since it pops so easily. Finally, because we cannot redirect the power of 100 people without breaking the bubble, it also satisfies the last part. If you think this answer is wrong, the add a comment. If you need more information, please do the same!

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