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This first thing that Kills a human in Space?

  1. Mar 16, 2009 #1
    Sorry I can't find any information on this.. Never mind the how, but if one were to suddenly find themselves floating naked in the vacuum of space what would be the thing that will kill them first?

    Would it be:
    * Plummeting Temperature
    * Lack of oxygen
    * Pressure (or lack of it)
    * Radiation
    * Fear

    I'm guessing temperature since it's extremely cold in space, but my friend says pressure (wtf?!)
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2009 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    As opposed to the second thing that kills a human in space?
  4. Mar 16, 2009 #3
    but you can only die once!
  5. Mar 16, 2009 #4
    You only live twice,
    or so it seems,

    I think it's pressure...the blood will boil.

    Thats probably rubbish.Perhaps an experiment is called for.
  6. Mar 16, 2009 #5
    Blood would boil? You mean chill, because it's going to be freezing.
  7. Mar 16, 2009 #6
    But cooling wouldn't be instantaneous and boiling point reduces with pressure.
  8. Mar 16, 2009 #7
    Lack of oxygen would kill you.
  9. Mar 16, 2009 #8
    But how quickly?I just tried an experiment by taking a really high jump in the garden and i am happy to report that I am alive and kicking and as handsome as ever.
  10. Mar 16, 2009 #9
    A human being can live for 5 minutes without oxygen but at minus 275 degrees Celsius, I think they'd become brittle far sooner than that.
  11. Mar 16, 2009 #10


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    Without a medium to carry away heat, cooling doesn't happen very fast.
  12. Mar 16, 2009 #11
    But there are no air particles to conduct or convect away heat, so the only mechanism of cooling would be via radiation (which is slow). Theres also the possibility of adiabatic cooling due to the expansion of your body's volume, but I don't think that would be significant.
  13. Mar 16, 2009 #12
    << post edited slightly by berkeman >>
    Zdenka have you tried approaching NASA?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2009
  14. Mar 16, 2009 #13


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  15. Mar 16, 2009 #14
    It depends on how fast you establish "vacuum". If it were instantaneous, you would definitely expand, tearing tissues apart. Have you never felt pressure change in your ears ?

    The article indeed says that you would not "burst apart". Interesting...
  16. Mar 16, 2009 #15


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    Safe to say the cerebral edema (not to mention the complete loss of all organ function) and loss of oxygen would result in rapid death. Unconsciouness would precede death.
  17. Mar 16, 2009 #16


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  18. Mar 16, 2009 #17
    I'd suggest The Amazing Madame Zelda using a 1 yard wheelbarrow.o:)
  19. Mar 16, 2009 #18
    My money is on getting ran over by a satellite.
  20. Mar 16, 2009 #19


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    I have always wondered about Bowman's explosive decompression stunt. I don't expect Myth Busters will be attempting to verify this one with a human show host.
  21. Mar 16, 2009 #20


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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
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