Bioshock Infinite, The Floating City!

So while we were discussing influences, Rebecca and I immediately jumped to Bioshock Infinite’s city; Columbia. This city, like the other bioshock games, is “constructed in a nearly unthinkable environment with the help of delightfully steampunk 1912 technology” (, 2016). In Columbia there are skyscrapers, bridges, parks, boardwalks, apartments, statues all hovering above earth in the clouds with the help of rockets and blimps. Everywhere you go through the game you will see blimps, balloons, rockets, propellers, all many of devices that are designed to make something fly.

Now a city is pretty heavy as you could probably guess, so is it plausible for a city to float in the air? Well one way that you could hold up a building would be rocket power. The Saturn V rocket is one of the largest rockets ever devised and can emit 1.7 million pounds of thrust. This does seem like a hell of a lot, however lets put this in a little perspective. Lets see if The Saturn V could lift one building instead of a whole city. Take the Empire State building. It weighs a staggering 330 million kilograms. So to lift the Empire State building we would need…

420 Saturn V rockets

Instead of burning up the Earths atmosphere lets look at something less destructive. How about balloons? Could we in theory make UP a reality and have helium lift a city into the sky.

Helium floats in the air because it is less dense, we should use helium to lift the city instead of lighter hydrogen, because previous attempts with lighter hydrogen haven’t ended well (the Hindenburg disaster).

Now here’s a bit of engineering, “As an engineering rule of thumb, one cubic meter of helium can lift about one kilogram of mass. So how much helium would it take to lift New York’s landmark?” (, 2016)

Apparently quite a lot, 330 million cubic meters of helium which unfortunately we don’t have enough of in our world. In terms of blimps (as a bit of perspective), we would need 1650 Hidenburgs to keep the Empire State building aloft.

For the moment I think quantum levitation may be the way to go with making a city levitate or a load of magnets who knows.

Links:, (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Feb. 2016].




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