Wednesday, April 27, 2011

vacuum exposure

This came up in discussion at Slug tribe last night, so I did a little bit of research. A human being exposed to vacuum will have their lungs burst almost immediately, unless they expel all the air out of their lungs as rapidly as possible. If they do so, they then have around 10 to 15 seconds before they will lose consciousness (the amount of time it takes oxygen rich blood in the brain to be replaced by blood with no oxygen from the lungs.) They can then survive, and still be resuscitated without much or any long-term damage for about 90 seconds total, at which point they will perish due to lack of oxygen (hypoxia). Death from heart fibrillation is also possible. Liquids on the body (water in mouth, on eyes) will start to boil (ebullism) and create frost, but body cooling is not a significant factor in survival. Blood itself won't boil, but other fluids in the skin will, and the skin will stretch and swell (unless restrained by a fitted elastic garment.)

References and further reading:

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