Inflated with hot air, water, gas, or human breath, balloons are sold as playthings, used for memorials and celebrations. They are admired during hot air balloon festivals, and just recently, one made international news: A helium-filled balloon took former Austrian paratrooper Felix Baumgartner some 24 miles above the earth to set the new world record for the highest skydive. He plummeted 128,100 feet on Oct. 14 at a top speed of 833.9 miles per hour, landing in over nine minutes. — Lloyd Young( 41 photos total)

A yellow balloon floats near the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on July 21 in London, England. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

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