Can humans survive in a vacuum?

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Dennis Slone

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Can humans survive in a vacuum?
« on: 23/05/2010 23:30:02 »
Dennis Slone asked the Naked Scientists:
   
If it possible for humans to survive being in a vacuum for a few seconds? 

Like we see in some science fiction movies where people jump between ships in space.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 23/05/2010 23:30:02 by _system »

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Offline graham.d

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Can humans survive in a vacuum?
« Reply #1 on: 24/05/2010 10:21:57 »
Yes they can. I'm afraid this is not accurately portrayed in many science fiction films. It would not be pleasant, but a human would probably take quite some time to die as it would be lack of oxygen that would cause loss of consciousness and death - not exploding eyeballs or other lurid and inaccurate causes. I think they probably got it right in the film 2001 all those years ago.

This topic was covered in this forum a while ago but I don't know how to search back topics to get the reference, except rather laboriously; does anyone know how to do this?

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Offline imatfaal

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Can humans survive in a vacuum?
« Reply #2 on: 24/05/2010 11:05:30 »
I guess you wouldn't be in a good way though, even if you survived.  Eardrums would be a problem - I suffer with pain when I go up in a commercial airliner and pressure equalization, I hate to think what would happen in vacuum.  I don't know how your lungs would survive either - they are incredibly delicate and might be fatally damaged. 

Do you try and hold your breath to protect lungs or open your mouth to ease pressure equalization - I presume astronauts and cosmonauts were taught how best to prepare.

Matthew
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Offline graham.d

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Can humans survive in a vacuum?
« Reply #3 on: 24/05/2010 12:00:49 »
I think you have to exhale otherwise the lungs would explode. I have to say I have never tried it  [:o]
Eardrums may be OK if the various passages are clear and the pressure has time to equalise, though I'm not sure. We were talking of survival time. I guess there would be long term effects but they may not be fatal. There are probably some unpleasant side effects to do with evacuation of the digestive system which is best not to go into (in every sense of the phrase).