Monday, September 15, 2008

Another way I hope I don't die

Discover Magazine recently came out with an online article of extreme things your body can endure (i.e. getting hit by lightning, free-falling out of a plane with no parachute, etc), what happens to your body during said extreme activities, and ways these activities can kill you: How to Fall out of a Plane and Live

To date, my most feared way of dying is by drowning. Now, after reading this article, death by exposure to vacuum comes in at a close second.

Exposed to a Vacuum

Engineer James C. LeBlanc climbed into a vacuum chamber at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in 1965 for a routine test of a spacesuit. His suit leaked, and for 14 harrowing seconds he was exposed to a near vacuum. LeBlanc later said that he could feel water boiling off his tongue. He then passed out, but technicians and engineers quickly repressurized the chamber; LeBlanc survived with no permanent damage.
Medical researchers at NASA estimate it is possible to revive someone exposed to
a vacuum for as long as 30 seconds. Air will be sucked out of your lungs immediately, and trying to hold your breath will be futile against the pressure. In a vacuum the gases and liquids in the body expand rapidly, animal studies show, but your skin and blood vessels maintain enough pressure on your body and its fluids that you will not instantly explode—no matter what you’ve seen in Hollywood films. According to NASA’s analysis, your tissues will swell slowly as water boils away and gases like nitrogen come out of solution, pushing against the membranes of your cells, stretching them and damaging your organs.
If you are fully exposed in outer space, the intense ultraviolet radiation from the unfiltered sun will give you a nasty sunburn on one side. In a vacuum, heat is not lost easily, however, so even though the temperature in deep space is –454 degrees F, you will not freeze immediately. Much sooner—after about 15 seconds—your oxygen-deprived brain will shut down. At that point you will black out, and you will probably die in another minute or two.


Cheasty said...

dear lord. i'm going to go think about butterflies and puppies for a while. maybe i'll watch the Sound of Music, just in case.