Jeff MacDonald (
Wed, 17 Jul 1996 01:47:08 GMT

Paul Smith <> wrote:

>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).
Although I would agree with your conclusions ( ie they don't explode),
this is not an equivalent situation. From my scuba classes, the
effects of pressure do not depend on the absolute change on pressure,
but the percentage change. We didn't consider dropping to 0 pressure,
but we were taught that the shallow part of the dive can be the most
dangerous, because that is where the relative pressure changes are
fastest. Thus dropping from 1/3 to 0 atm is a much greater change than
from 1 1/3 to 1 atm.
I would guess, extrapolating from the consequences of ascending
without exhaling, that the likely first effects would bethe alveoli in
the lungs to burst. This could probably be prevented by exhaling, but
this leads to other obvious problems.

>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