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Outer Space Exposure

Article #237 • Written by Alan Bellows

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In scores of science fiction stories, hapless adventurers find themselves unwittingly introduced to the vacuum of space without proper protection. There is often an alarming cacophony of screams and gasps as the increasingly bloated humans writhe and spasm. Their exposed veins and eyeballs soon bulge in what is clearly a disagreeable manner. The ill-fated adventurers rapidly swell like over-inflated balloons, ultimately bursting in a gruesome spray of blood.

As is true with many subjects, this representation in popular culture does not reflect the reality of exposure to outer space. Ever since humanity first began to probe outside of our protective atmosphere, a number of live organisms have been exposed to vacuum, both deliberately and otherwise. By combining these experiences with our knowledge of outer space, scientists have a pretty clear idea of what would happen if an unprotected human slipped into the cold, airless void.

In the 1960s, as technology was bringing the prospect of manned spaceflight into reality, engineers recognized the importance of determining the amount of time astronauts would have to react to integrity breaches such as a damaged spacecraft or punctured space-suits. To that end, NASA constructed an assortment of large altitude chambers to mimic the hostile environments found at varying distances above the Earth, accounting for factors such as air pressure, temperature, and radiation. Adventurous volunteers were subjected to simulations of the conditions found several miles up, and a handful of animal tests were conducted with even lower pressures.

Using the data from these experiments and their knowledge of outer space, scientists were able to make some reasonable conclusions about how the human body would respond to sudden depressurization. A series of accidents over the years proved most of their extrapolations to be accurate. In 1965, in a space-suit test gone awry, a technician in an altitude chamber was exposed to a hard vacuum. The defective suit was unable to hold pressure, and the man collapsed after fourteen seconds. He regained consciousness shortly after the chamber was repressurized, and he was uninjured. In a later incident, another technician spent four minutes trapped at low pressure by a malfunctioning altitude chamber. He lost consciousness and began to turn blue, but escaped death when one of the managers kicked in one of the machine's glass gauges, allowing air to seep into the chamber.

A Soviet Soyuz spacecraft
A Soviet Soyuz spacecraft

In 1971, three Russian cosmonauts aboard an early Soyuz spacecraft tragically experienced the vacuum of space first-hand, as described in the Almanac of Soviet Manned Space Flight:

"...the orbital module was normally separated by 12 pyrotechnic devices which were supposed to fire sequentially, but they incorrectly fired simultaneously, and this caused a ball joint in the capsule's pressure equalization valve to unseat, allowing air to escape. The valve normally opens at low altitude to equalize cabin air pressure to the outside air pressure. This caused the cabin to lose all its atmosphere in about 30 seconds while still at a height of 168 km. In seconds, Patsayev realized the problem and unstrapped from his seat to try and cover the valve inlet and shut off the valve but there was little time left. It would take 60 seconds to shut off the valve manually and Patsayev managed to half close it before passing out. Dobrovolsky and Volkov were virtually powerless to help since they were strapped in their seats, with little room to move in the small capsule and no real way to assist Patsayev. The men died shortly after passing out. [...] The rest of the descent was normal and the capsule landed at 2:17 AM. The recovery forces located the capsule and opened the hatch only to find the cosmonauts motionless in their seats. On first glance they appeared to be asleep, but closer examination showed why there was no normal communication from the capsule during descent."

When the human body is suddenly exposed to the vacuum of space, a number of injuries begin to occur immediately. Though they are relatively minor at first, they accumulate rapidly into a life-threatening combination. The first effect is the expansion of gases within the lungs and digestive tract due to the reduction of external pressure. A victim of explosive decompression greatly increases their chances of survival simply by exhaling within the first few seconds, otherwise death is likely to occur once the lungs rupture and spill bubbles of air into the circulatory system. Such a life-saving exhalation might be due to a shout of surprise, though it would naturally go unheard where there is no air to carry it.

In the absence of atmospheric pressure water will spontaneously convert into vapor, which would cause the moisture in a victim's mouth and eyes to quickly boil away. The same effect would cause water in the muscles and soft tissues of the body to evaporate, prompting some parts of the body to swell to twice their usual size after a few moments. This bloating may result in some superficial bruising due to broken capillaries, but it would not be sufficient to break the skin.

A NASA altitude chamber
A NASA altitude chamber

Within seconds the reduced pressure would cause the nitrogen which is dissolved in the blood to form gaseous bubbles, a painful condition known to divers as "the bends." Direct exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation would also cause a severe sunburn to any unprotected skin. Heat does not transfer out of the body very rapidly in the absence of a medium such as air or water, so freezing to death is not an immediate risk in outer space despite the extreme cold.

For about ten full seconds-- a long time to be loitering in space without protection-- an average human would be rather uncomfortable, but they would still have their wits about them. Depending on the nature of the decompression, this may give a victim sufficient time to take measures to save their own life. But this period of "useful consciousness" would wane as the effects of brain asphyxiation begin to set in. In the absence of air pressure the gas exchange of the lungs works in reverse, dumping oxygen out of the blood and accelerating the oxygen-starved state known as hypoxia. After about ten seconds a victim will experience loss of vision and impaired judgement, and the cooling effect of evaporation will lower the temperature in the victim's mouth and nose to near-freezing. Unconsciousness and convulsions would follow several seconds later, and a blue discoloration of the skin called cyanosis would become evident.

At this point the victim would be floating in a blue, bloated, unresponsive stupor, but their brain would remain undamaged and their heart would continue to beat. If pressurized oxygen is administered within about one and a half minutes, a person in such a state is likely make a complete recovery with only minor injuries, though the hypoxia-induced blindness may not pass for some time. Without intervention in those first ninety seconds, the blood pressure would fall sufficiently that the blood itself would begin to boil, and the heart would stop beating. There are no recorded instances of successful resuscitation beyond that threshold.

Though an unprotected human would not long survive in the clutches of outer space, it is remarkable that survival times can be measured in minutes rather than seconds, and that one could endure such an inhospitable environment for almost two minutes without suffering any irreversible damage. The human body is indeed a resilient machine.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 27 November 2006. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows.
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107 Comments
Captain Impulse
Posted 27 November 2006 at 07:03 am

Damn interesting! I've been curious about the effects of exposure to vacuum for some time.

Never did get around to testing any theories, however. Heh heh.

Now I know, and knowing is half the battle.


Man
Posted 27 November 2006 at 07:05 am

I didn't think Total Recall was entirely realistic.

Exceedingly interesting, especially this part;

"Heat does not transfer out of the body very rapidly in the absence of a medium such as air or water, so freezing to death is not an immediate risk in outer space despite the extreme cold."

A+


esskay
Posted 27 November 2006 at 07:08 am

Holy smokes, I was just thinking about this very subject yesterday. What a random coincidence.


Alan Bellows
Posted 27 November 2006 at 07:14 am

esskay said: "Holy smokes, I was just thinking about this very subject yesterday. What a random coincidence."

This article may interest you.


bobslaede
Posted 27 November 2006 at 07:21 am

Damn you Alan ;) Haha,I was just about to post that link

Damn interesting article!


etonalife
Posted 27 November 2006 at 07:52 am

Wow. I like that I've got a couple minutes to figure out what's happening. Hopefully calm acceptance would engulf my mind rather than hysteria! Although, spontaneous combustion - in a flash of a ring of bright light of varying colors - would be cool too...

Does the blueing effect happen to the people shot up in space after they die? A rather chameleon way to travel silently I'd say...


Xiphias
Posted 27 November 2006 at 08:06 am

What happens if you take the temperature and pressure the other way? 300 degrees above instead of below and 100% more atmospheric pressure instead of 100% less.


HarleyHetz
Posted 27 November 2006 at 08:52 am

I've been in one of those altitude chambers, although not one nearly as sophisticated as the one shown above. In the Marines, as a part of my basic training, they simulated taking us up so high that oxygen would be required. To prove it, they had us take off our oxygen masks and perform simple tasks like writing our name over and over. They said to breathe normally and write our name, or color a picture, or say our name rank and serial number (they had 4 or 5 of us in there at a time). The others in the platoon would stand outside of the glass and watch (and listen). While you were in there, you had no idea that you couldn't perform whatever task it was that they gave you, but to those watching it was hilarious!! If you had one of the writing/coloring assignments, you could literally see yourself deteriorating, those who had to say something or other had little idea, they would just begin to ramble on unintelligebly most of the time. It was truly amazing to watch, but rather uneventful to participate in!


CanInternet
Posted 27 November 2006 at 09:15 am

Still, I would go if anyone puts up the dough to book a flight with Virgin.


Shandooga
Posted 27 November 2006 at 09:31 am

I don't believe any of this. I'm going into my vacuum chamber to prove it wrong. If I don't come back, avenge my death.

I love french toast.


kilranian
Posted 27 November 2006 at 11:22 am

Thanks again, DI, for shattering my little world-view caused by too many movies like "Event Horizon."

*shudder*


brienhopkins
Posted 27 November 2006 at 11:43 am

Good to know. I don't understand a couple things:

If everyone in that Russian spacecraft died, where did the detailed account come from?

Why does blood boil in a vacuum?


another viewpoint
Posted 27 November 2006 at 11:44 am

...oh this is just great!

When exposed to the vacuum of space, we NOW know that we have but a mere 2 minutes to rethink the steps taken in error leading to our demise. Barely enough time time to say "Aw shit...that was a dumb thing to do!"

While space travel would be an interesting journey, I think I'll keep both feet firmly planted on the ground and deal with the vacuum created by corporate America. At least there, I can survive for several years in the vacuum of sound business thinking, cooperative attitudes and long range (greater than 90 days) planning.


Jonathan Field
Posted 27 November 2006 at 12:00 pm

Ah, most interesting! I have always enjoyed the movie 2001, but cringed a bit each time Dave blows himself across empty space into the airlock. I always felt that it was a foolish mistake to put such an impossible occurrance into an otherwise solid sci-fi film. But it turns out I had been fooled by too many overdramatic depictions of depressurization -- I'll have to watch 2001 with renewed respect now.


rp2
Posted 27 November 2006 at 12:08 pm

I'm sure it's interesting. I don't know why, but I can't read more than halfway through this.. it creeps me out more than anything.


Xoebe
Posted 27 November 2006 at 12:12 pm

Why does blood boil in a vacuum?

Think of air pressure on a liquid as sort of "holding a lid" on the liquid's molecules. Remove the lid, and the molecules get loose.

As pressure decreases, the energy required to boil it - make it change phase into a gas - also decreases. At some point the ambient temperature of the water is sufficient to cause the water to change phase and boil off. Body temperature can cause the water in the blood to boil if the pressure drops low enough.

You could cool a liquid to keep it from boiling, but at some point it will freeze and become solid. Certain solids will change phase directly from solid to gas - think of dry ice.

This is why it takes longer to cook foods in boiling water at higher altitudes. The boiling point is lower in the mountains than at sea level, so the mountain boiling water is actually cooler than sea level boiling water - and it takes longer to cook.


levitysea
Posted 27 November 2006 at 12:18 pm

GI JOE!

I was just telling my friends about that movie (event horizon), rather disturbing flick - "where we're going we don't need eyes"
Yuck

So how about that stupid movie with tim robbins in it, mission to mars or whatever it was, does anyone remember that scene with him exposed to "outter space" dying immediately, all looking like a cross between a prune and a mummy in two seconds? I guess it's closer to the truth than any of the other movies I've seen.


SparkyTWP
Posted 27 November 2006 at 12:30 pm

brienhopkins said: "If everyone in that Russian spacecraft died, where did the detailed account come from?"

When the craft landed, it would've been obvious to see the cosmonaut not strapped in and a manual valve halfway closed. After further inspection, they would have found the unseated joint. It would only be a matter of putting it all together and figuring out what caused the joint to unseat.


ti83
Posted 27 November 2006 at 01:41 pm

Wow, that's so cool. I have always wondered what would really happen were I flung into the vaccuum of space.


Krull
Posted 27 November 2006 at 02:21 pm

rp2 said: "I'm sure it's interesting. I don't know why, but I can't read more than halfway through this.. it creeps me out more than anything."

Me too... but I made the mistake of reading on anyway - I couldn't just leave it unread! I should never have started though, not really the best thing to be reading just before bed!! *shudder*


Drakvil
Posted 27 November 2006 at 02:35 pm

brienhopkins said: "Why does blood boil in a vacuum?"

Xoebe said: "You could cool a liquid to keep it from boiling, but at some point it will freeze and become solid. Certain solids will change phase directly from solid to gas - think of dry ice.

This is why it takes longer to cook foods in boiling water at higher altitudes. The boiling point is lower in the mountains than at sea level, so the mountain boiling water is actually cooler than sea level boiling water - and it takes longer to cook."

Good answer, Xoebe. I was about to add the example of the pressure cooker - seal the lid to increase the pressure in the pot, and the temperature of the boiling water inside climbs higher. And aside from dry ice there is another common substance that goes straight from a solid to a gas... burrito.

Harley: thanks for sharing, that was a really interesting tidbit I'd never heard of.

I did hear that one of the contractors working on a building for one of the telescopes on Mauna Kea actually called his office down at sea level and complained "I've cut this bar three times now, and it's still too short!"

I also remember that one of the things learned from the investigation of the fire that killed our 3 astronauts on the launch pad during a test in the Apollo program is that when the atmosphere approaches 100% oxygen, oil based products such as velcro will spontaneously combust - the percentage required changes based on pressure.


noway
Posted 27 November 2006 at 02:43 pm

Xiphias said: "What happens if you take the temperature and pressure the other way? 300 degrees above instead of below and 100% more atmospheric pressure instead of 100% less."

100 % more atmospheric pressure would be about 202kPa (kilopascals), which would be the equivalent of swimming to 20 ft below the water...not a big deal. The 300 degrees would mean you'd be cooking like the Turkey you had at Thanksgiving, so I imagine that would probably be a bad thing.


noway
Posted 27 November 2006 at 02:51 pm

Sorry, mixing up units. It's actually more like a 20 METER dive, so it's definitely livable, but probably not that comfortable if you're not used to the pressure.


cerebulon
Posted 27 November 2006 at 02:56 pm

Thank you for this article. I've always wondered what would really happen. Has anyone ever experimented with... Plants in SPAAAAAACE. (Sorry, I had to do it.) Anyway - how do plants react to a vacuum?


Secret Ninja
Posted 27 November 2006 at 03:11 pm

There was a Sean Connery movie where he killed like 5 guys by pulling the hoses out of the back of their space suits and watching their face explode into their masks, it was pretty neat.


pyrhho
Posted 27 November 2006 at 03:36 pm

Secret Ninja: You're Thinking of MoonRaker. It also had lots of awesome outer-space-laser-marines! *PEEEW**PEEEW**


Secret Ninja
Posted 27 November 2006 at 05:03 pm

I know it wasn't Moon Raker, it was set on Jupiter or something.

I just looked it up, its called Outland. Although its not a Bond flick, its a pretty good movie if I remember correctly.


emessar
Posted 27 November 2006 at 05:12 pm

The movie was Outland ... one of the first DVD's that I bought when first got a DVD player. Moon Raker stared Roger Moore. It's a good film and holds up over time (as long as you can forgive the inaccurate decompressions).

On a side note, I find it interesting that Hitchhiker's Guide was actually closer to accurate on this matter than most sci-fi.


Joshua
Posted 27 November 2006 at 05:43 pm

Besides, Roger Moore played James Bond in Moonraker, not Sean Connery.


TDavis
Posted 27 November 2006 at 08:15 pm

Drakvil
Posted 27 November 2006 at 08:58 pm

cerebulon said: "Thank you for this article. I've always wondered what would really happen. Has anyone ever experimented with… Plants in SPAAAAAACE. (Sorry, I had to do it.) Anyway - how do plants react to a vacuum?"

Don't their eyes bug out, they gasp for breath and then they explode in a spray of blood and guts?

Seriously, I think that since their cellular structure has so much cellulose in them and not a bunch of air pockets, they would certainly bruise a lot, but freeze before anything else could kill them.


Terfops
Posted 27 November 2006 at 10:16 pm

So what I can go into space with an air tank covered in aluminum foil (ya know the stuff that reflects radiation :&) and be fine?


mohdowais
Posted 27 November 2006 at 10:33 pm

Wow Alan, that was very well written and quite detailed! A bit too detailed in fact, through most of the article I felt like I was choking only to realize I was holding my breath imagining myself dangling in space with no oxygen! Damn man, you need to make your writing less picturesque, or you're gonna kill me.

5 stars!


PresMatt
Posted 27 November 2006 at 11:37 pm

Drakvil said: "Good answer, Xoebe. I was about to add the example of the pressure cooker - seal the lid to increase the pressure in the pot, and the temperature of the boiling water inside climbs higher. And aside from dry ice there is another common substance that goes straight from a solid to a gas… burrito.


Harley: thanks for sharing, that was a really interesting tidbit I'd never heard of.

I did hear that one of the contractors working on a building for one of the telescopes on Mauna Kea actually called his office down at sea level and complained "I've cut this bar three times now, and it's still too short!"

I also remember that one of the things learned from the investigation of the fire that killed our 3 astronauts on the launch pad during a test in the Apollo program is that when the atmosphere approaches 100% oxygen, oil based products such as velcro will spontaneously combust - the percentage required changes based on pressure."

One last example to add, although u both did quite a good job explaining things... If you boil water at sea level (say Miami, FL) and then go to Denver, Co (the mile high city for our friends outside the US), the boiling temperature varies due to pressure. For instance in Miami today water would boil at 211.6F whereas in Denver it would boil at 202F... Just for fun I figured out the boiling point of water on Mt Everest to be 72.9F. I thought I was wrong at first, but I checked my numbers here... http://virtualweberbullet.com/boilingpoint.html


Hoekstes
Posted 27 November 2006 at 11:40 pm

Hmmm, I think I would rather just spontaneously explode than suffer through those 2 minutes. DI article. I don't understand why nobody's asked anything about the Armstrong picture. Is it one of the pictures that "proves" the moonlanding was faked?


Misfit
Posted 28 November 2006 at 01:00 am

Many of the people above (more around the top of the comment section than anything else) have got the whole two minutes thing mixed up. You'd only have 20 SECONDS to figure things out and stay conscious. The two minutes is for how long you have before you die.

idk. What I find interesting is that many of these things are survivable to a certain very limited degree. As for the skin thing, it seems almost like a real bad hickey, only all over. The non-freezing part is what baffles me. wouldn't the vacuum practically suck the juices out of your sweat glands, causing a sort of evaporation all over, thus cooling you? I would think that the rapid boiling and evaporation of, literally your body, would be just about the same thing that happens when one freezes to death. Maybe there's something I'm just not taking into account here.

If you don't freeze to death out in space, what does the temperature feel like out there? If I were to take off my suit and 'not freeze to death,' what would I describe the weather to be like?

If temperature, pressure, and radiation are the only things going against me, and temperature not being a big deal, I bet I'd try to design a super tight body suit or something with one lone heater, a couple of layers of tinfoil (or whatever else might block radiation), plus some of that other crap like oxygen and whatnot.

How many changes has the space-suit undergone, anyway?


exsomnis
Posted 28 November 2006 at 02:47 am

Misfit said: "Many of the people above (more around the top of the comment section than anything else) have got the whole two minutes thing mixed up. You'd only have 20 SECONDS to figure things out and stay conscious. The two minutes is for how long you have before you die. "

We might be unconscious by then but we assume that someone saves us before the 2 minutes are up.

"idk. What I find interesting is that many of these things are survivable to a certain very limited degree. As for the skin thing, it seems almost like a real bad hickey, only all over. The non-freezing part is what baffles me. wouldn't the vacuum practically suck the juices out of your sweat glands, causing a sort of evaporation all over, thus cooling you? I would think that the rapid boiling and evaporation of, literally your body, would be just about the same thing that happens when one freezes to death. Maybe there's something I'm just not taking into account here."

You assume that the amount of liquid evaporating due to the body's exposure to vacuum is enough to cool the body till it freezes. But the skin and blood vessels do stay intact for the 2 minutes that you can be exposed to vacuum and be resuscitated; the bodily fluids don't boil away all at once. We'd die of asphyxiation first.

"If you don't freeze to death out in space, what does the temperature feel like out there? If I were to take off my suit and 'not freeze to death,' what would I describe the weather to be like?

I'm not sure but I think you'd still feel cold. Remember that heat is transferred through thermal radiation as well, in the absence of air molecules as a medium of heat transfer.


Figs
Posted 28 November 2006 at 03:39 am

I do some scuba diving, so I can answer some of the questions about changes in pressure. What happens as you dive deeper is that the gasses you breathe can have different effects that you're used to. Assuming you're breathing *air* (ie, high nitrogen concentration), you'd be susceptible to nitrogen narcosis after you reach a certain depth. (Essentially, the nitrogen content of air can become intoxicating when you breathe it at increased pressure. The precise amounts of pressure needed to really impair you vary from person to person. I've never noticed the effects myself. Wikipedia article here, for those who are curious: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_narcosis ) Now, what happens when you double the atmospheric pressure? (I'm assuming you're at 1 atmosphere of pressure to start with.) 2 atmospheres of pressure is the equivilent of diving through 33 feet of sea water. (1 atmosphere from the actual atmosphere, plus 1 atmosphere additional pressure for every 33 feet of sea water.) This is easily surviveable, as I've dived to depths of about 60 or 70 feet. (66 ft ~= 3 atmospheres) I'd be more worried about the +300 degrees temperature wise, as I'd suspect that could cause some nasty burns.


AntEconomist
Posted 28 November 2006 at 05:34 am

PresMatt said: "… Just for fun I figured out the boiling point of water on Mt Everest to be 72.9F. I thought I was wrong at first, but I checked my numbers here… http://virtualweberbullet.com/boilingpoint.html"

I checked. The site quotes (for 29,000 ft) 76F. I find that hard to believe as it means that the water in the climbers' bodies would boil (they don't wear pressure suits) simply due to their body heat.


Dave Group
Posted 28 November 2006 at 06:44 am

Outland was a cool movie (High Noon set in outer space) but, as Harlan Ellison once said, it is filled with scientific errors.


Radiatidon
Posted 28 November 2006 at 07:39 am

When I was in the South Pacific, there were a couple of divers that suffered extreme bends. They were put in our totally out of date compression chamber, but needed better medical than we could provide. Brass decided that it would be best to “Fly” them back to Hawaii. Since Air Micronesia was due in later that day, it was decided to put them on the commercial airline rather than bring in a MAC flight.

Good thing the jet didn’t suffer any cabin decompression or those two men… need I continue?

Oh, the comment on the moon picture, poor job of paint shopping if you ask me. His head is clearer than the moon suit, and since when did the moon helmets have a handle on the top?


Metryq
Posted 28 November 2006 at 10:09 am

Jonathan, Arthur C. Clarke used the vacuum crossing idea in another story, but I can't recall the title. A military ship came to the aid of a damaged vessel with several dozen passengers on board. The rescuing ship opened a large, cargo airlock while troopers in space suits lined the crossing area. One by one the pressurized cabins were blown and the troopers herded the passengers over.


philtlucre
Posted 28 November 2006 at 10:12 am

Never mind the academic repartee, DIng-a-lings. Let's speculate about whose mug was inserted into the photo at the top of the article. My guess? One A. Bellows. 'Fess up, dude. phil the pill.

PS: *love* the special-effects in previewing posts! Nice job, gents! Damn Interesting, in fact.


robo
Posted 28 November 2006 at 10:22 am

AntEconomist said: "I checked. The site quotes (for 29,000 ft) 76F. I find that hard to believe as it means that the water in the climbers' bodies would boil (they don't wear pressure suits) simply due to their body heat."

I googled and saw the temperature as 72 degrees celsius not fahrenheit. I'm guessing though that if it actually was 72 fahrenheit that your skin would act to keep the pressure on the fluids in your body higher. Your skin would get very dry but it's possible your innards would stay relatively safe.


naser
Posted 28 November 2006 at 11:10 am

Wow..now that is some bad shiznit. Exposure to the unknown does hurt, but I didn't know it would be so painfully sweet


anna k
Posted 28 November 2006 at 11:56 am

noway said: "Sorry, mixing up units. It's actually more like a 20 METER dive, so it's definitely livable, but probably not that comfortable if you're not used to the pressure."

It's not that you need to get used to it--it's not as if divers have to constantly bear discomfort of "wow I'm being squished" whenever they're at 20m/3 atmospheres, which a totally normal recreational dive depth and pressure. Remember that you're made of mostly water, and water's incompressible, so no matter how deep you go, your tissues aren't going to care much (with the exception of your ear airspaces, which can be equalized simply). Thus, being at 20m when you're "not used it it" is no biggie. So as long as you've got air to breathe, being at 3 atmospheres (or the pressure at 20m) or 8 atmospheres or 0.5 atmospheres of pressure is not a worry at all.

NB: Doesn't hold true much past 8 or 9 atmospheres, but that's because of partial pressure of oxygen in the air, not because of pressure itself... oh, and all those nasties you hear about associated with diving and pressure aren't because of the pressure so much as the pressure being released. So no need to get used to pressure--just clear your ears!


LostInTheWired
Posted 28 November 2006 at 12:20 pm

robo said: "I googled and saw the temperature as 72 degrees celsius not fahrenheit. I'm guessing though that if it actually was 72 fahrenheit that your skin would act to keep the pressure on the fluids in your body higher. Your skin would get very dry but it's possible your innards would stay relatively safe."

You must also understand that the body temperature is actually lower when fighting through Everest's hell hole of a place. This is because of the several base camps that they set up to allow their bodies to get used to the pressure and temperature.


AntEconomist
Posted 28 November 2006 at 03:10 pm

LostInTheWired said: "You must also understand that the body temperature is actually lower when fighting through Everest's hell hole of a place. This is because of the several base camps that they set up to allow their bodies to get used to the pressure and temperature."

No, PresMatt's site is clearly in F (put in 0 ft and you get 211.3). Here's another that appears more reasonable -- boiling point of water at 29,000 ft is 155F.
http://www.biggreenegg.com/boilingPoint.htm


Silverhill
Posted 28 November 2006 at 03:35 pm

Metryq said: "Jonathan, Arthur C. Clarke used the vacuum crossing idea in another story, but I can't recall the title. A military ship came to the aid of a damaged vessel with several dozen passengers on board. The rescuing ship opened a large, cargo airlock while troopers in space suits lined the crossing area. One by one the pressurized cabins were blown and the troopers herded the passengers over."

Pretty good memory, Metryq. :-) The story was "Take a Deep Breath", wherein the crew of a damaged space station were rescued from their living quarters. (Somehow, space suits had not been stowed within reach.) Clarke used this story as the basis of Dave Bowman's entry into Discovery against HAL's wishes; the 2001 story itself was developed from Clarke's short story "Sentinel".


PresMatt
Posted 28 November 2006 at 03:48 pm

AntEconomist said: "No, PresMatt's site is clearly in F (put in 0 ft and you get 211.3). Here's another that appears more reasonable — boiling point of water at 29,000 ft is 155F.

http://www.biggreenegg.com/boilingPoint.htm"

That does seem a bit more reasonable than 72F... but none the less, water boils at a lower temperature the higher the elevation. As with just about anything you ask on the internet, you'll get more questions than answers in the return.


just_dave
Posted 28 November 2006 at 03:51 pm

brienhopkins said: "Why does blood boil in a vacuum?"

The boiling point of any liquid drops along with the atmospheric pressure, and vice versa. It's the same principle that helps keep the engine on your car cool (pressurized cooling system = higher boiling point) and makes air conditioning & refrigeration possible.


Syd Midnight
Posted 28 November 2006 at 05:44 pm

A couple years ago I asked a small-time commercial pilot (the 16-seat jet type) what he'd do if hijacked.. he said he'd buck the plane to send everyone flying around the cabin ("They wouldn't know which way is up"), then depressurize the cabin (presumably at 20-30,000 feet or so). He always had an oxygen mask within arms reach, and insisted that sudden depressurisation would knock everyone "out cold" within 15 seconds.

I don't know how plausible that situation is, but to me the scariest thing about depressurisation is that it isn't the same as holding your breath, or even exhaling and not breathing, but that it literally sucks the oxygen out of your bloodstream! I'd imagine it's like being in a choke-hold but sped up... you wouldn't even feel the panic of suffocation, it'd just be just nightey-night time.

It really hits home how much mental training astronauts require.. to be prepared to deal with such a situation, knowing they'll have seconds to react, yet not be constantly paranoid. It would take me 5-15 seconds just to deal with the "OH NO!" shock of it.

I doubt an oxygen mask would even WORK in vacuum conditions. Your lungs probably aren't strong enough to inhale enough 100% oxygen to create a useful atmosphere inside your lungs. Better make those next 15-20 seconds really count.

Dave Group said: "Outland was a cool movie (High Noon set in outer space) but, as Harlan Ellison once said, it is filled with scientific errors."

Exploding astonauts aside, my favorite was the helmets with the lights inside. Imagine driving at night, without headlamps, and the dome light in your car turned on. Even as a kid I thought that was blatantly absurd.

Jonathan Field said: "Ah, most interesting! I have always enjoyed the movie 2001, but cringed a bit each time Dave blows himself across empty space into the airlock. I always felt that it was a foolish mistake to put such an impossible occurrance into an otherwise solid sci-fi film. But it turns out I had been fooled by too many overdramatic depictions of depressurization — I'll have to watch 2001 with renewed respect now."

One question I've always had about that scene.. when the cabin was repressurized, wouldn't he have a layer of frost on his skin? It's been too long since I read the book to remember if it was mentioned, but I'd always assumed that the outermost layer of skin would freeze (from evaporation if not cold), and repressurisation would leave frost on the hair and extremities from ambient humidity. Maybe Iit's best to just hope you NEVER FIND OUT.


Shandooga
Posted 28 November 2006 at 08:41 pm

Xiphias said: "What happens if you take the temperature and pressure the other way? 300 degrees above instead of below and 100% more atmospheric pressure instead of 100% less."

You die.


Syd Midnight
Posted 28 November 2006 at 09:27 pm

Xiphias said: "What happens if you take the temperature and pressure the other way? 300 degrees above instead of below and 100% more atmospheric pressure instead of 100% less."

Shandooga said: "You die."

Yeah.. you might be able to live for 30-60 seconds on Mars, if you hyperventilated a bit first, but on Venus it'd be like being dropped in a vat of boiling oil. You probably wouldn't even finish your scream :(


Dr. Evil
Posted 28 November 2006 at 10:46 pm

from the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy...

Space, is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space.

To be fair though, when confronted by the sheer enormity of the distances between the stars, better minds than the one responsible for the Guide's introduction have faltered. Some invite you to consider for a moment a peanut in Reading and a walnut in Johannesburg, and other such dizzying concepts.

The simple truth is that intersteller distances will not fit into the human imagination.

Even light, which travels so fast that it takes most races thousands of years to realize that it travels at all, takes time to journey between the stars. It takes eight minutes to journey from the star Sol to the Earth, and four years more to arrive at Sol's nearest steller neighbour, Alpha Proxima.

For light to reach the other side of the galaxy, for it to reach Damogran for instance, takes rather longer: five hundred thousand years.

The record for hitch hiking this distance is just under five years, but you don't get to see much on the way.

If you hold a lungful of air, you can survive in the total vaccum of space for about thirty seconds. However, what with space being the mindboggling size it is, the chances of being picked up by another ship in those thirty seconds are two to the power of two hundred and seventy-six thousand, seven hundred and nine, to one against.


Glenn
Posted 29 November 2006 at 12:21 am

Based on the Goff-Gratch equation for calculating the saturation vapor pressure of (pure) water, at 156 defrees F (69C, 342K) water boils at 300 millibars (mb), the average pressure at the elevation of the peak of Mt. Everest. PressMatt, perhaps you are using a formula outside of its acceptable range of inputs.


trillian
Posted 29 November 2006 at 01:04 am

Fascinating fascinating fascinating. And a really awesome discussion, too.

I'm curious about this:

"In the absence of air pressure the gas exchange of the lungs works in reverse, dumping oxygen out of the blood..."

Why is this?


Silverhill
Posted 29 November 2006 at 02:06 am

External pressure helps maintain the oxygen in solution in the blood plasma; without such pressure, the oxygen undissolves and goes away, toward the low- (or no-) pressure area.


babu
Posted 29 November 2006 at 02:09 am

Xiphias said: "What happens if you take the temperature and pressure the other way? 300 degrees above instead of below and 100% more atmospheric pressure instead of 100% less."

Shandooga said: "You die."

Probably. But sadly it may take a while.

First; the pressure is no problem, see above. The temperature could be a problem but how bad it will be depends on the density of the environment you're in. Here's an analogy. Imagine you've just done baking a bread at 250C. The air within the oven, the bread and the iron will all be 250C. Now, when opening the oven you can safely stick your hand in the hot air for quite a while without getting burnt. You can also briefly touch the bread, but now you need to be careful, the bread is more dense and transfers the energy much more efficient. The iron within the oven is very dense and this you can not touch, not even for a split second, without skin injury.


Metryq
Posted 29 November 2006 at 04:16 am

philtlucre said: "Let's speculate about whose mug was inserted into the photo at the top of the article. My guess? One A. Bellows. 'Fess up, dude. phil the pill."

It's Neil Armstrong, a photo taken near the end of the mission.
http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/whos_who_level2/armstrong.html


ipwashington
Posted 29 November 2006 at 08:54 am

babu said:
First; the pressure is no problem, see above. The temperature could be a problem but how bad it will be depends on the density of the environment you're in. Here's an analogy. Imagine you've just done baking a bread at 250C. The air within the oven, the bread and the iron will all be 250C. Now, when opening the oven you can safely stick your hand in the hot air for quite a while without getting burnt. You can also briefly touch the bread, but now you need to be careful, the bread is more dense and transfers the energy much more efficient. The iron within the oven is very dense and this you can not touch, not even for a split second, without skin injury."

While you're mostly right on this, I think it's important to note that the density of the object isn't really the thing that's determinative in whether or not you get burned. I believe in most cases what would be important is two properties, the heat conductivity of the material and its specific heat.

Specific heat is basically a measure of how much energy it takes to raise the temperature of an object a degree, and conversely how much energy an object can give off before it loses a degree. Think of it as how much of a "charge" a substance holds. Water for example has a very high specific heat and requires a lot of energy to change its temperature. This is why the climate around oceans is usually more moderate than inland. I can recall doing experiments in highschool where we would drop a room temperature piece of metal, say iron, into a cup of boiled water, or a hot piece of metal into a cup of room temperature water. In either event, once the temperatures reached equilibrium, the temperature of the water would only have slightly changed in comparison with the metal. Density of the object might play a role, particularly because a greater density means a greater mass, but in this case specific heat wins out. (Density of a gas might be particularly important though, because it can be changed to such a great degree).

How well/fast the substance conducts heat would also be a factor, because it would determine how fast the heat energy is transfered and thus how fast you would be burned. Metals for example conduct heat very well, which is why you don't want to touch the rack in your oven: even though it's the same temperature, and might have a lower total "charge" of heat, it's energy is transfered very quickly and thus can burn you in an instant.

That's the best I understand it/can explain it, maybe someone with an education in thermodynamics or the like could do it better/pick apart what I've just said. Anyway, lacking that, here are the wiki articles on specific heat and thermal conductivity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_heat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_conductivity

Be warned, there's enough calculus there to make your head spin.


ballaerina
Posted 29 November 2006 at 10:25 am

That was so eerie. It reminded me of a Ren and Stimpy episode where they implode on Mars. I rather like the idea of imploding.

I realize that was irrelevant. But seriously, is it possible to implode?


noway
Posted 29 November 2006 at 12:43 pm

anna k said: "It's not that you need to get used to it–it's not as if divers have to constantly bear discomfort of "wow I'm being squished" whenever they're at 20m/3 atmospheres, which a totally normal recreational dive depth and pressure. Remember that you're made of mostly water, and water's incompressible, so no matter how deep you go, your tissues aren't going to care much (with the exception of your ear airspaces, which can be equalized simply). Thus, being at 20m when you're "not used it it" is no biggie. So as long as you've got air to breathe, being at 3 atmospheres (or the pressure at 20m) or 8 atmospheres or 0.5 atmospheres of pressure is not a worry at all.


NB: Doesn't hold true much past 8 or 9 atmospheres, but that's because of partial pressure of oxygen in the air, not because of pressure itself… oh, and all those nasties you hear about associated with diving and pressure aren't because of the pressure so much as the pressure being released. So no need to get used to pressure–just clear your ears!"

Ok so I guess if you could even hit 14 atm without dieing and already have about 200 pounds of force applied to every square inch of your body, compressing you in all directions, that you'd really only be concerned with the oxygen content huh? Not the likelihood of your body imploding or anything...right.
Grant it, I wasn't talking about going that deep, but if you're not used to diving or familiar with equalizing the pressure in your ears, going to the bottom of a 10 to 15 ft swimming pool can be uncomfortable, so I'm pretty sure it'd be uncomfortable at 20 meters. And the whole concept doesn't really involve scuba diving at all, but suddenly being exposed to that kind of pressure/temperature...


noway
Posted 29 November 2006 at 12:45 pm

O and babu was right too, has a lot to do with the density...either way, vacuum sucks more :)


noway
Posted 29 November 2006 at 12:49 pm

trillian said: "Fascinating fascinating fascinating. And a really awesome discussion, too.


I'm curious about this:

"In the absence of air pressure the gas exchange of the lungs works in reverse, dumping oxygen out of the blood…"

Why is this?"

because air pressure moves from high to low (similar to how temperatures move from hot to cold), so if you had no atmospheric pressure, the pressure in your lungs and blood would actually leave your body instead of enter it


Drakvil
Posted 29 November 2006 at 12:57 pm

Sandooga: I'm guessing you left two words off your message - it would have had that nice, sinister ring if it was
"You die, Mr. Bond."

or "No Mr. Bond, I expect you to cook."


guille
Posted 29 November 2006 at 08:10 pm

Although it is interesting to learn how the body reacts to the void, I would also be interested to know what happens to an unprotected body when exposed to the myriad of harmful waves out in space, away from the protection of our magnetic field. I have always thought that the protection provided by a thin astronaut suit was too weak to stop the body from cooking.


SparkyTWP
Posted 29 November 2006 at 09:05 pm

Despite all the radiation out in space, a body wouldn't "cook" unless you're incredibly close to the sun. You would just get a lot of cellular damage and either die very quickly or get cancer and other health problems.

Microwaves have to be pretty concentrated before you get a cooking effect. For example, the wireless network in your home or office use the exact same waves as your microwave oven. The only difference is that an oven is a cavity that concentrates them and your network broadcasts them everywhere.


Silverhill
Posted 29 November 2006 at 10:59 pm

guille, magnetic fields do not stop electromagnetic radiation (such as microwaves, visible light, gamma rays, etc.), though they can deflect high-energy charged particles (such as the solar wind and cosmic rays).

Also, as SparkyTWP noted, the various solar radiations are not all so intense as to pose a danger, at least to someone wearing a spacesuit. (For extravehicular work at least, the suits have built-in or attached cooling systems to keep the astronauts from getting too uncomfortable just from their own body heat; the suits protect against external heating too, but the exposure times do have to be watched.)


adastra
Posted 30 November 2006 at 02:08 am

There is a school of thought that space suits are much more complicated than they need to be. You don't have to have air all around your body. Heating and cooling, yes, but for breathing all you need is pressurized air around your head and a spandex like suit conforming to your body.


Bolens
Posted 30 November 2006 at 06:45 am

Alan, this is a GREAT article. And I must say, And awesome comments, everyone. This is a great site!

noway said: "...vacuum sucks more :)"

hehe.


golire
Posted 30 November 2006 at 02:07 pm

I have always wondered about this since i saw 2001 a space odessey. In that movie a man forgets (bad idea ) his space helmet while in his EVA ship. The mad Hal computer is in charge on the mother ship, and doesnt want to let him in. So he has to shoot himself into the spaceship through an emergency manual hatchway. If you havent seen it before you should take a look. From what this artical says i can assume that the guy would probrably have lived, and if he had any kind of a military back ground would spend the rest of his life carrying a space helmet around in his left hand. :) Great artical I loved it.


Falos
Posted 30 November 2006 at 11:16 pm

DI, because I did indeed wonder about this, without believing the information would ever be of any value. Isn't that strange?


trillian
Posted 01 December 2006 at 08:58 pm

anna k said: "it's not as if divers have to constantly bear discomfort of "wow I'm being squished" "

This made me laugh out loud even the second time I read it.

Hell, I'm giggling again right now.


fvngvs
Posted 02 December 2006 at 05:17 am

Drakvil said:
"No Mr. Bond, I expect you to cook.""

You don't have a white cat by any chance do you Drakvil?

Thanks Alan. This is right up there on the DI-o-meter!


eatmydust57
Posted 02 December 2006 at 07:22 am

how do they live


Cedric
Posted 02 December 2006 at 10:16 pm

"that you'd really only be concerned with the oxygen content huh? Not the likelihood of your body imploding or anything…right."

Exactly.

If you know how to equalize at 5 feet, you know how to equalize at any depth, so you can potentially go very deep (free divers go without any protection to 600 feet these days).


Atreyu
Posted 10 December 2006 at 02:15 pm

Can I just say that I am extremely happy to find a comment section ANYWHERE on the internet that is full of intelligent, funny, and good comments. Thanks to all of you.


pst314
Posted 16 December 2006 at 05:16 pm

"Jonathan, Arthur C. Clarke used the vacuum crossing idea in another story, but I can't recall the title. A military ship came to the aid of a damaged vessel with several dozen passengers on board.

That was his 1950's novel Earthlight, which makes at least 3 stories where Clarke made use of the idea.


Grantytis
Posted 07 January 2007 at 11:02 pm

Atreyu said: "Can I just say that I am extremely happy to find a comment section ANYWHERE on the internet that is full of intelligent, funny, and good comments. Thanks to all of you."

in response to this....

testicles.

that is all.

(just kidding all, this is an superb site, keep up the good work.)


FireDude
Posted 11 January 2007 at 02:31 pm

ipwashington said: "While you're mostly right on this, I think it's important to note that the density of the object isn't really the thing that's determinative in whether or not you get burned....

Be warned, there's enough calculus there to make your head spin."

You've got specific heat and heat capacity mixed up. Specific heat is the amount of energy to raise a unit mass one degree. The specific heat of almost everything is between 0.1 kJ/kg K and 10 kJ/kg K. If you multiply the specific heat by the density, you would get the volume-specific heat capacity, which is much more constant for solids and liquids (around 3 J/cc K) The heat capacity is the specific heat of an object times its mass (or the volume-specific heat capacity times its volume), so it is a function of how big your object is. Air has a specific heat of around 1 kJ/kg K but a density that is maybe 1/5000 that of iron, so its volume-specific heat capacity is about 1000x smaller. I'd be willing to bet that in your high school experiment, you used a significantly larger volume of water than whatever metal you used. Good explanation though.

Double checked water boiling on Everest -- assuming 300 millibars, Glenn's right about the boiling point according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/cbook.cgi?ID=C7732185&Units=SI&Mask=7#Thermo-Phase).


Brian Damage
Posted 18 January 2007 at 05:55 am

Not sure I get it....... but it sounds interesting. Remember doing this sort of stuff in school a good while back.

Would love to go in to space at some point (if i had a spare few million pounds knocking around). Just got to make sure that all my space suit works first!!! As we were taught in the military, 'Never assume, CHECK!'.


adamj.
Posted 24 January 2007 at 09:54 pm

Wow,... what a great article! I always wondered what would happen to the human body in the vacuum of space. My wife thinks I am patently bizarre for being in any way interested in this, but this is why I always win at trivia games ... i store useless information like squirrells store nuts.

I'm also glad I now know how to properly spell "vacuum" (2 c's, 2 u's,...who knows)!

So, my wireless network uses microwaves? Is my laptop injuring my body?


pencap23
Posted 07 February 2007 at 03:11 pm

Question - Why will blood begin to boil after extended exposure?


Aggi
Posted 28 February 2007 at 06:42 am

Can water evaporate in space, after astronauts boil it?


kenfo
Posted 08 April 2007 at 09:35 am

firedude: if you have a lot of calculus, see a dentist...if you go into space w/o a suit and that crap comes flying off....WHEW!

pencap: because it is angry for not being given a space suit?

aggi: water seeks it own level.

Question: I was using a vacuum yesterday for about 45 minutes, and yet I am unharmed....is this article on the up and up? Is this a disinformation campaign by Hugo Chavez and his uncle, Kim Jong Il? Lastly, catfood tastes just like it smells.


BNobez
Posted 12 July 2007 at 11:03 pm

it says that the body does indeed turn blueish after exposure for a certain period of time.

so exactly how long would a body have to be exposed to stay that way?
think about it, you have a ship that reaches space and they realise after they have gotten away from earth that there is a hole in the ship because they flew through an army weather ballon used to detect soviet missiles. and they just took there helmets off. with in minutes the effects stated above come into play and the crew loses consciousness. the ship gets dragged down by earths atmosphere after the engine shuts down. the crew has endured these conditions for a period of time elapsing between 15-30 minutes and now they are completly blue. the ship crashes down to earth in roswell new mexico. voila you have alien looking humans do to the effects of being unprotected. the government uses the weather balloon to cover up the crash because they wouldnt want the public being informed that either them or the soviets had developed a plain that could reach space without having to use a space shuttle.


Waz
Posted 19 July 2007 at 04:21 pm

so that scene in Farscape is essentially accurate?! you know, the one where Criton jumps ship in series 2.


wurkerbee
Posted 23 February 2008 at 03:09 pm

Actually, the spacewalking astronauts have something in common with divers in water, which is the risk of getting the bends. To be able to function in their space suits, they cannot operate them at our normal 14psi air pressure. In the vacuum of space, they would be like balloons and would be unable to move any of the joints of the suit. They lower the air pressure inside the suits all the way down to 6 psi. This is where the risk of getting the bends comes in, at that low pressure, any nitrogen in their blood would bubble. So, before they can seal their space suits and go outside, they must spend hours breathing 100% oxygen to purge any nitrogen from their bodies, and also breathe 100% oxygen in the suits. As amazing as spacewalking is, it still has a long way to go to overcome the simplest laws of physics. They cant just throw on a suit and go outside, it takes over 12 hrs of preparation.


Anthropositor
Posted 09 May 2008 at 05:52 pm

Hard to believe that the 100% O2 would still be the protocol. I would have guessed maybe 30% O2, 68% He, and dashes of CO2 and H2O. I expect it would have some effect on the tone of voice communications.


sleepy39
Posted 18 July 2008 at 10:27 am

So you are saying the opening Itchy and Scratchy cartoon on "The Simpsons Movie" is fake? A cat with a hole in his space suit and helmet can't survive that long on the moon? I always thought the Simpsons was fairly accurate.

Great article!


OldCoot
Posted 19 July 2008 at 05:43 pm

esskay said: "Holy smokes, I was just thinking about this very subject yesterday. What a random coincidence."

What coincidence is NOT random?


BlackFoxOne
Posted 20 July 2008 at 07:39 am

Wow, now that is quite fascinating indeed.


argosinfotech
Posted 03 August 2008 at 09:54 am

hey he take off his helmet..waaoooooooo


sunshowers
Posted 15 August 2008 at 11:50 pm

I have always wondered about this ever since I saw a movie where there was a dude astronaut and a chick astronaut in love, and there was this ridiculous scene where they were using their little jets to get around in space. They were trying to retrieve some vital piece of equipment (some kind of tool needed to repair the shuttle) when the dude astronaut realized that if they went any further they wouldn't have enough oxygen to get back to the shuttle. In an act selfless heroism he told the chick astronaut to stay put while he went to get the tool. As he was jetting away, she realized what was happening and began to go after him. NOOOOOO, he cried! I did this to save you!! She hesitated, and before she could make up her mind what to do, he made the decision for her - he "tossed" the tool to her and then took off his helmet, and within seconds his head was frozen solid. Alone, she watched his frozen face turn away as his body tumbled into the infinite darkness.

My memory might not be exactly accurate, but that's how I remember it. And I remember being fascinated! But after reading this article, I see that they were dead wrong. Yeesh!


Turbosinaboy
Posted 18 August 2008 at 08:08 am

sunshowers said: "I have always wondered about this ever since I saw a movie where there was a dude astronaut and a chick astronaut in love,

Mission to Mars.

And the astronaut chick was a very Hot astronaut: Connie Nielsen.

I was wondering it that suddenly frozing would be possible, but I had a hope that there was a little amount of time before any damage could be caused to a human body.


michaeljlogin1988@lycos.com
Posted 15 February 2009 at 03:34 am

thats crazy

basically what i imagined.

nice to know. haha

thats crazy. the near future, we can use this knowledge

yeah thats ..damn.... interesting,


michaeljlogin1988@lycos.com
Posted 15 February 2009 at 03:40 am

i thought the article would say, you can survive out there just fine.

and the movies were fake , about blowing up

ok, but you really do blow up

i see.

well, it takes 2 minutes ot blow up.

that's not long. well wait a minute that s kinda like being under water.
so thats a nice way of seeing it, if you go under, you have to come back up for air. so, we can go into a little bit of open space and then back into a sealed chamber, and presss the airlock button, and its ok.

titan ae. the movie has a scene like that, they jump out into space and use the un,m fir extinguisehr thing, remember>?

go see that movie, its in the first 30 minutes of it
mike


Sporkus
Posted 27 March 2009 at 05:18 pm

Blood does boil in space. If it is on a plate. But it is in a pressurized container. Your skin. So far, only bloodshot eyes have been recorded.
So there is more to the question than the old equation from chemistry, PV=nRT. Pressure times Volume (of a gas or liquid) = number of moles times R ( a constant based on the units of measure) times absolute Temperature.
There is not a large amount of free gas in blood anyway. oxygen is bound to a hemochemical. And since you were probably breathing pure oxygen, or a mix with helium, nitrogen is not a problem. A diver going down 60-8o feet in the ocean experiences much more pressure difference when returning to the surface than an astronaut going from 15 pounds per square inch normal air pressure in the capsule to 0 psi. If you were breathing oxygenated florocarbon liquid (liquids don't expand much), in the vacuum of space with a breathing mask, you would be okay for quite a while. But keep your eyes closed. And emulate Mr. Rogers. Wear a sweater.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 02 June 2009 at 09:07 am

LostInTheWired said: "You must also understand that the body temperature is actually lower when fighting through Everest's hell hole of a place. This is because of the several base camps that they set up to allow their bodies to get used to the pressure and temperature."

Now I am not a mountaineer, but I call BS on that.
True, you need the time to get used to the lower pressure, but if you allow your body temperature to actually decrease for any significant amount of time, you're doing something wrong...


Mr Studworthy
Posted 03 June 2009 at 08:35 am

101st.....
If i recall, it's actually the oxygen level in the blood that falls to 'normally' fatal levels, yet they continue on (that's because of acclimatising at the various base camps) If your core temp falls just a few degrees you are in real bad shape. Frost bite is bad enough and is often fatal, core temp falls and they won't even bother to attempt to get you down!


James Papas
Posted 28 December 2009 at 04:05 pm

Hi everyone,
I have a number of questions for those who are well read.

I don't think water would boil in space. As a matter of fact I can't even understand why it would turn to vapor, because there would be no medium for the vapor to disseminate. Nature has a tendency of concentrating into spheres. So if water were to be released in space, it would just turn into a glob of sort, and then gradually freeze, and the speed with which it would do so would be contingent on the size of the body of water (due to inertia right?). I don't know if the sun's radiation would even have any effect in heating it up. Can someone answer this question?

Second, all the calculators that I found with which someone can find the boiling point of water depending on pressure, would not calculate for Zero pressure. (pressure in space is Zero right?) The lowest they can measure the boiling point is for 0.03 Bar, at which water boils at 26 degrees Celsius. But Space is much colder than 26 degrees Celsius, right? So water would not boil in space. Moreover the article above first states that water on the tip of someone's tongue (saliva) and in the eyes would boil, but a few lines later it says that it would freeze. I don't get that part. Some people above say that water, and the body's liquids for that matter, would boil because of the body's, and thus their own, temperature, being around 36 degrees Celsius. Yet, isn't the body contained inside skin? And in turn, blood into veins, cells into membranes, and so forth? Don't these provide a kind of pressure-suit? If this idea holds, I understand swelling, but not exploding or imploding or blood boiling. Perhaps the pressure that the will be created inside the skin is enough for the body's normal temperature 36-37 degrees to prevent the boiling of liquids, probably 0.6 Bar. I think skin can take that, right?

The other point is exhaling entirely before going into space without a suit...but wouldn't that happen automatically? I mean, wouldn't the air want to escape out of the body, so exhalation would just happen on its own, no matter how hard you tried to keep your breath? Or could you hold a breath? I still don't quite understand why it would be harmful to hold your breath. Could someone elaborate? And why would someone have to keep their eyes closed? Why would the eyes want to pop out? Any trapped air can get out through the ear-larynx-nasal cavities. Another question is whether fluids can come out of the body's pores. is that even possible?

Based on the article it seems that Zero pressure is much less harmful than a lot of pressure. People/tribes who live on very high altitudes have bigger lungs, compared to those who live near valleys, to account for lack of oxygen. What would the effect of inhaling denser air suddenly (from a cylinder container) be? And would these people be better candidates for such an experiment as releasing a person in an absolute vacuum in space?

I wonder if a pressure--boiling-point graph was made, whether it would curve towards infinity on either end, making it thus curve more acutely at more extreme pressure. If that's the case, the lower the pressure the less heat would be required to boil water. But how many degrees Celsius are required to boil water at absolute Zero pressure? What puzzles me more is that it has been said that there are traces of ice on the moon and certainly they have found ice on asteroids. If so, why doesn't the water on the moon and on asteroids turn to vapor, but instead remains solid ice? Neither of the two has an atmosphere nor would there be pressure on an asteroid, right? Just cold, hard vacuum. (the moon might have a tiny bit of an atmosphere though). But both are hit by the sun directly for long periods of time occasionally. Does he ice melt? I doubt it.

Last but not least, just as we can equalize for very high pressure when diving at great depths, can't we equalize for a vacuum? I mean, granted it could take months, if not a years, but it is possible right? Then the only need one would have, would be for some kind of air mixture to breath and protection from radiation.

Why don't we pay a someone to do this? Their family could use the money to build a statue of him and use the remainder to buy a Porsche. If one could volunteer for science, we would know for sure. We could even throw a monkey out there. Animal rights activists don't even have a say, because if monkeys could travel in space, they would use humans for the same reason. I'd volunteer my dog, Rex, for this experiment.


pkshdk
Posted 03 June 2010 at 07:40 am

As to the holding your breath, the body is actually airtight, so yes, you could - and the reason it is harmfull to hold your breath, is because in a vacuum, gasses expand, and so would oxygen - I'm not sure whether or not the air would escape out of your mouth, because you couldn't keep it should for the excess pressure, or if your lungs would explode, but I take NASA's word for it ;)

And the reason for the water boiling is, because it is contained in your body - your body will probably still be around 37 degrees celcius, and not the temperature of the vacuum surrounding you - as said, you won't loose your body heat very rapidly, because of the lack of air molecules.


johnathan macneil
Posted 06 May 2011 at 06:49 pm

you know just a thought but ive been hearing that the space suits needed to go to mars need a new pressure system to make better movement possible i was thinking what about water pressure normally this can kill us but if you use it in space it allows maximum mobility and saves precious air needed for breathing im not a scientist but just wondering if this has been tryed yet


Martine
Posted 17 January 2015 at 05:21 pm

okay, so I've been doing a lot of research about the blood boiling in space thing. This is the first resource that has told me that blood in your circulatory system may in fact evaporate. Can you elaborate on that ? Because everywhere else has just been telling me that since you circulatory system is a closed system, and the pressure is held constant, your blood wouldn't start boiling. Of course, falling unconscious will drop your blood pressure by a lot, but as long as your system remains closed, will your blood not remain liquid until your body freezes ? I mean, as long as your heart is beating, there will be pressure in your circulatory system, so the blood won't boil. I would appreciate some clarification on this matter, thanks :)


DAVID HOUGH
Posted 19 January 2015 at 07:02 am

WHY NOT USE VACUUM & THE COLDNESS OF SPACE AS A POWER UNIT


Soldier22
Posted 07 April 2015 at 01:13 pm

hey you should show images for the what happens to people when they get sucked into space


END OF COMMENTS
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