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Outer Space Exposure

This is interesting to me because I have a short SF piece in the works about a psycho living in the LEO colony engendered by the space engine who kills by pushing people out into space unprotected and letting them fall into the atmosphere to dispose of the bodies. (Don't get any ideas now)

Researching this was in the plan ( LOL plan eh? ;> ) and I'm glad I found it. It removes one excuse for not working on that piece. I guess, like lot of others, I had the 'Hollywood' explosive decompression image in my head. The reality actually has more potential for literary imagery.

My thanks to and Alan Bellows who posted this on November 27th, 2006 at 6:51 am.

{I hit the highlights only but the details and background are worth reading --PB--}

"In scores of science fiction stories, hapless adventurers find themselves unwittingly introduced to the vacuum of space without proper protection. [The Hollywood version of what happens]does not reflect the reality of exposure to outer space.

Ever since humanity first began to probe outside of our protective atmosphere, a number of live organisms have been exposed to vacuum, both deliberately and otherwise. By combining these experiences with our knowledge of outer space, scientists have a pretty clear idea of what would happen if an unprotected human slipped into the cold, airless void."


"When the human body is suddenly exposed to the vacuum of space, a number of injuries begin to occur immediately. Though they are relatively minor at first, they accumulate rapidly into a life-threatening combination."


"Expansion of gases within the lungs and digestive tract due to the reduction of external pressure ... the lungs rupture and spill bubbles of air into the circulatory system."


"Water spontaneously converts into vapor, [causing] the moisture in a victim's mouth and eyes to quickly boil away [and evaporates the water]in the muscles and soft tissues ... prompting some parts of the body to swell to twice their usual size after a few moments."


"Nitrogen dissolved in the blood forms gaseous bubbles - a painful condition known to divers as "the bends."


"The gas exchange of the lungs works in reverse, dumping oxygen out of the blood and accelerating the oxygen-starved state known as hypoxia. After about ten seconds a victim will experience loss of vision and impaired judgement ... unconsciousness and convulsions would follow several seconds later ..."


"[In ninety seconds] the blood pressure would fall sufficiently that the blood itself would begin to boil."

I spent way too much reading some of the other articles on Damn Interesting. It's an excellent site. Bellows et al have a real flair for digging up interesting topics. --PB--

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