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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sudden exposure to the vacuum of space 


Ever since I saw the Sean Connery science fiction epic Outland about 25 years ago, I have assumed that the exposure of an unprotected human to the vacuum of space would result in an immediate and grotesquely explosive death. Not true, apparently:

Though an unprotected human would not long survive in the clutches of outer space, it is remarkable that survival times can be measured in minutes rather than seconds, and that one could endure such an inhospitable environment for almost two minutes without suffering any irreversible damage. The human body is indeed a resilient machine.

Indeed, it is a resilient machine that is apparently engineered to survive temporary accidental exposure to outer space. Does that tell us something about humanity's destiny, or at least its opportunity? I'm just spiritual enough to think that it might.

CWCID: Jonah G.

2 Comments:

By Blogger Charlottesvillain, at Thu Nov 30, 01:28:00 PM:

Or maybe its origins. (Time to find my old copy of Chariots of the Gods).  

By Anonymous West, at Fri Dec 01, 10:28:00 AM:

Rhetorical question:

Ever see 2001? Although in the movie Bowman suffers absolutely no injury, which is not quite accurate (he probably would have had burst capillaries in is skin, and his eyes would have looked like raw liver afterwards, and he forgot to exhale, without which his lungs would probably have ruptured), his spacewalk without a helmet is quite possible. Robert Heinlein dealt with this at least once, as well as several other sci-fi authors.  

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