According to an NBC news articles, over 15,000 lives in the U.S. have been saved because of airbags. The airbag and its trusty companion, the seat belt, together have been the two most important safety enhances in the history of the automobile.  Let’s take a look at the science behind the airbag.

The airbag is activated in a crash.  A sensor is calibrated to judge when the car is in a rapid deceleration, or a in a crash.  It then releases a spark which ignites sodium azide, which releases nitrogen gas, inflating the bag.  This I happens in a fraction of a second.  The reaction is a demonstration of Charles’s law, which states that an increase in temperature will cause an increase in volume.

The airbag allows the driver a cushion when flung forward in a crash.  Instead of bumping into the wheel, the airbag helps lessen the impact of the collision.  However, airbags are not without risks.  If the airbag is too powerful, its inflation can injure or kill children and small adults.  That is why children should not be allowed in the front seat until they pass a certain weight and height.  In California, for example, children must be past seven years and 57 inches.

Check out this site for a video of the future of automobile technology.



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