What happens when a space suit’s air pressure drops to zero? As one who went to commercial dive school and was once a certified scuba instructor, this breathable oxygen and air pressure is interesting to me, and I never would have guessed the outcome of the test shown in the video below.
As an aside, the first astronaut and cosmonaut deaths were due to atmosphere. We were using a low pressure atmosphere, with high levels of oxygen. The Russians were using typical air at typical air pressure. The astronauts died from a fast spreading fire in the oxygen, while the cosmonauts died due to the “bends”, i.e. air bubbles in the blood caused by a sudden loss of atmospheric pressure.
I assume that the guy in the space suit must be breathing pure oxygen at about 1/3 atmospheric pressure. Also, he was probably breathing an air mixture of decreasing nitrogen, so nitrogen would dissolve out of his blood and other tissues, eventually eliminating the risk of bubbles forming in his blood in case his suit failed. But no, I won’t actually research that for us. 🙂
However, sudden loss of pressure can still have consequences, albeit much less serious. 60 seconds long:
Yeah, I see where you’re coming from. A large part of me wants to debunk some of the ways outer space deaths are dramatized in science fiction, e.g. bulging eyes and other highly graphic renditions. And in the same vein, with my interest in animal and human physiology, I’m recently considering the most “humane” kinds of capital punishment, e.g. by supplying breathing air with no oxygen… that’s not like in the movies, either. I am against capital punishment, but still highly concerned with the more barbaric methods.
In commercial underwater dive school, part of our training was to experience 1) nitrogen narcosis that occurs at depths under high atmospheric pressure (e.g. in a hyperbaric chamber), and 2) carbon dioxide poisoning when fresh air has been cut off and the object is to climb a ladder out of the water when your water-filled navy dive suit and lead boots weigh about a hundred extra pounds. These are realities that commercial divers might have to face, recognize, and deal with not just for themselves, but for fellow divers. (I never worked as a commercial diver, but my brother and a friend did, on oil drilling platforms out in the Gulf of Mexico. So I’ve had an unusually high interest in unsafe air vs life-saving breathing equipment for decades.)
I’m diabetic and came close to death by hypoglycemia once. I passed out, but luckily just before doing so, swallowed some candy. I digested enough candy while unconscious to wake up and take further life-saving steps.
The most commonly used method involving a cocktail of drugs and chemicals seems ridiculously too complicated and subject to bungling.
My point is that hypoglycemia is probably a very painless and unstressful way to die. You go unconscious and you just gradually shut down. I don’t believe there’s gasping for air or panic or any of that. There would certainly be no consciousness of “this is it, I’m dying. Somebody help me!”
They would die in a coma.
I wonder why a drastic overdose of insulin isn’t used in capital punishment.