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How much we rely on inflation


It’s surprising how much we rely on inflation in the modern world. I’m not even talking about the economic kind, although that certainly has a gargantuan effect on the market. But simple mechanical inflation – filling something with air or some other gas – is essential to all sorts of technologies and processes.

Take weather balloons. Vital to the field of meteorology, weather balloons get filled with hydrogen (which is why you have to be super careful when they’re getting inflated, otherwise things go boom) and attached to sensors that are lifted high into the atmosphere to take measurements. Without weather balloons, our forecasts would be far less accurate, and we wouldn’t have the security of knowing that it’s at least probably going to rain this afternoon.

But it’s in vehicles that inflation really shines. And I’m not talking about blimps. Airbags are important – a vital safety feature that helps cushion impacts in the event of a crash thanks to rapidly inflating soft supports. The real trick is tyres though. The pneumatic tyre is a marvellous piece of technology that allows people to drive over all sorts of terrain, giving them increased traction and protecting wheels.

The important thing to remember, though, is that tyres only work properly when they are properly inflated. Everyone knows that you can’t drive with a flat tyre, but even a slightly underinflated tyre will give you poorer handling, worsen your fuel efficiency, and put you more at risk of accidents. A tyre pressure monitoring system will ensure that you know what your tyre pressure is like at all times, and won’t be driving unawares without the proper inflation. The tyre sensors directly measure the air pressure in your tyres, and the monitor alerts you when it drops too low or gets too high. A TPMS will keep you safer and mean you don’t have to worry about the inflation in your tyres. And the less you have to worry about, the better.