It might be really tempting to fill that old basketball you have laying around covered in dust with as much air as possible, but you really shouldn’t.
Over-inflation may damage the integrity of the ball and it will not perform to standards. Extreme over-inflation can cause the ball to explode, which may result in severe injury.
Temperature is the main culprit causing a basketball to explode. On the one hand, a basketball should not be kept in areas that are too cold because cold temperatures lower the pressure of the basketball. Therefore, a basketball left in the cold will lose air and end up deflating quickly. This is because of how gas molecules react in the cold.
Temperature is not the only reason a basketball can explode. If you overfill your basketball with an air compressor or similar device, too much air may cause the basketball to explode. You can test this by either rebounded it from six feet above the ground or by simply bouncing the ball—if it bounces to your chest, it has too much air.
This was tested to the extreme when a group of men inflated their basketball to a whopping 50 PSI (for reference, the average is between seven and nine pounds per square inch). Then, they dropped the basketball off of a 415-foot dam with the hopes of the over-inflation causing an explosion. It did explode to an impressive extreme.
Was the monstrous amount of air the cause of the basketball’s explosion? The team tested this theory by dropping a normally-inflated basketball off the same dam, and this time the drop was a success. The men even set a world record for a basketball being shot at the greatest height. Once the inflation was set normally, the ball did not explode.
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