Why air doesn’t crush us?


Air is heavy enough to crush us, but why doesn’t it? Why do we often make the mistake of thinking air weighs nothing?


Contrary to the perception of weightlessness, air is indeed remarkably heavy. Within the confines of a typical room, the air itself contributes to a substantial mass, potentially exceeding 100 kilograms. Despite its weight, the pervasive illusion of air’s lack of weight arises from the unique dynamics of atmospheric pressure.

Understanding Air’s Weight:

  1. Force on Every Surface:
    • Air Pressure Magnitude: Across every square centimeter of Earth’s surface, the air exerts a force equivalent to approximately 10 newtons. This implies a force of about 10 newtons, or roughly 1 kilogram, acting on even the smallest surfaces, such as a fingernail.

Countering the Crush: Atmospheric Pressure in Action

  1. Pressures in All Directions:
    • Multi-directional Forces: The key to understanding why we aren’t crushed by the weight of air lies in the fact that atmospheric pressure acts in all directions. It doesn’t just press downwards; it also exerts lateral and upward forces. This multi-directional nature of air pressure prevents us from being flattened.
  2. Balanced Forces:
    • Equilibrium Achieved: While the weight of the air pushes downward, our bodies experience an equal and opposite force pushing upwards, as well as lateral forces. This equilibrium ensures that the forces are balanced, preventing any dramatic compression or collapse.

Inside-Out Pressure Dynamics:

  1. Internal and External Balance:
    • Air Within and Without: The air not only exerts pressure from the outside but also exists within our bodies. This internal air contributes to balancing the external atmospheric pressure, allowing us to navigate through our environment without feeling the weight of the air pressing down.

The Illusion of Weightlessness:

  1. Pressure Equilibrium Perception:
    • Lack of Sensation: As the forces from the external air and the internal air reach a delicate equilibrium, we don’t feel the pressure acting upon us. This absence of physical sensation contributes to the misconception that air weighs nothing, whereas, in reality, it is the finely tuned equilibrium of forces that prevents us from being crushed.


The deceptive lightness of air belies its substantial weight. Yet, the intricate balance of forces, with atmospheric pressure acting in all directions and the presence of air both within and outside our bodies, safeguards us from the potentially crushing weight of the atmosphere. Understanding these dynamics dispels the illusion of air’s weightlessness, revealing the unseen but ever-present forces that shape our daily experiences in the surrounding air-heavy environment.

Back To Blog Posts

Mini Physics

As the Administrator of Mini Physics, I possess a BSc. (Hons) in Physics. I am committed to ensuring the accuracy and quality of the content on this site. If you encounter any inaccuracies or have suggestions for enhancements, I encourage you to contact us. Your support and feedback are invaluable to us. If you appreciate the resources available on this site, kindly consider recommending Mini Physics to your friends. Together, we can foster a community passionate about Physics and continuous learning.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.