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Why No Explosion?

Science brain teasers require understanding of the physical or biological world and the laws that govern it.


Puzzle ID:#16192
Fun:*** (2.3)
Difficulty:*** (2.34)
Submitted By:Bobbrt*****
Corrected By:MarcM1098




It is scientific fact that if all else is held constant, the pressure of a gas varies directly with its temperature. In other words, if you have a gas in a sealed, insulated, rigid container and you double its temperature, its pressure will also double. If you triple the temperature, the pressure will triple, etc. This is not EXACTLY true, but it is close enough for the purpose of this teaser.

Why is it, then, that if I were to fill my tires with 32 psi of air on a day that is 2 degrees Celsius, the tires won't explode if the temperature later increases to 20 degrees Celsius (which would seemingly increase the pressure 10-fold to 320 psi, well beyond the capacity of most tires)?

Assume that the temperature of the air in the tire always matches the temperature outdoors: it starts at 2 degrees and ends at 20 degrees.
Also ignore the fact that the tires will expand.


This problem is really more mathematical than scientific. Here's a hint: say you have a temperature of -10 degrees Celsius. Now double that temperature. You get -20 degrees. Doesn't it seem a little odd that when you double something's temperature that it actually goes DOWN?? When you double something's LENGTH, it never goes DOWN. What's wrong here?

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