Paul Smith (
Tue, 16 Jul 1996 20:05:34 GMT

Richard Foy wrote:
> Newborns or adults kicked out iof an airlock, without a space suit,
> would not kick for a few seconds. They would "explode" instantly.

The idea that people would explode if exposed (rapidly) to high vacuum is
a common one but there are good reasons to think it is not true. In the
Apollo missions a cabin pressure of 1/3 atm. oxygen was used and
decompression from 1/3 to 0 atm. is equivalent in terms of gas evolution
to suddenly decompressing from a saturation dive at 3m in seawater (US
Navy dive tables permit an indefinite null time down to 10m, though most
sport diving associations these days are more conservative). Someone
doing this while using scuba gear might injure their lungs if they forgot
to breathe out and could have problems with their sinuses, but they
wouldn't explode and nor would an Apollo astronaut exposed to space.
Instead, they would lose consciousness through hypoxia and, if not
retrieved, slowly freeze-dry into a sort of orbiting instant-coffee
granule until scooped-up by any passing aliens who happened to think it
would be a laugh to re-hydrate them. I know this has nothing much to do
with paleoanthropology but I just thought you might want to know.


Paul Smith.
Paul Smith & Bea Hemmen, De Gildekamp 21-47, 6545KE,
Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Tel: 024-3782438, E-mail:
"God save us from our naughtiness" 16th C. English Prayer