ScienceThe Physics of Scuba Diving

The Physics of Scuba Diving


One other unit is the bar, the place 1 bar is the same as 14.5 psi. The worth of 1 bar could be very near the strain of air on Earth. The atmospheric strain of the air that surrounds you proper now might be 14.5 psi. (Sure, I stated “in all probability” as a result of I do not need to choose you. Perhaps you’re studying this from the highest of Mount Everest, the place the strain is simply 4.9 psi, as a result of there’s much less air above you pushing down. If that’s the case, ship me an image.) By way of pressure and space, it is the same as 100,000 newtons per sq. meter.

Water can also be made from tiny shifting molecules that act like balls, and people molecules collide with underwater objects (like folks), producing strain. Water has many extra molecules than the identical quantity of air, which suggests there are extra collisions to provide a larger strain. However identical to going to the highest of Mount Everest decreases the air strain, going deeper in water will increase the strain, as a result of gravity pulls downward on the molecules of water. For each 10 meters of depth, the strain will increase by 1 bar, or 14.5 psi. That implies that on a dive 20 meters (round 60 toes) beneath sea degree, there can be a water strain of 43.5 psi, 3 times larger than the air strain at Earth’s floor.

(The truth that strain will increase with depth prevents all of the ocean’s water from collapsing into an infinitely skinny layer. Because the strain is bigger the deeper you go, the water beneath pushes up greater than the water above it pushes down. This distinction compensates for the downward gravitational pressure, so the water degree stays fixed.)

It’d sound like 43.5 psi is an excessive amount of for an individual to deal with, but it surely’s really not that dangerous. Human our bodies are very adaptable to modifications in strain. When you’ve got been to the underside of a swimming pool, you already know the reply to this strain downside—your ears. If the water strain on the surface of your eardrum is bigger than the strain from the air inside your internal ear, the membrane will stretch, and it could actually damage. However there’s a good trick to repair this: When you push air into your center ear cavity by pinching your nostril closed whereas trying to blow air out of it, air might be pressured into this cavity. With extra air within the internal ear, the strain on each side of the membrane might be equal and you’ll really feel regular. That is referred to as “equalization,” for hopefully apparent causes.

There’s really one other air area that you should equalize whereas diving—the within of your scuba masks. Do not forget so as to add air to it as you go deeper, or that factor will awkwardly squish your face.

There may be one different physics mistake a diver may make. It is doable to create an enclosed air area in your lungs by holding your breath. Suppose you maintain your breath at a depth of 20 meters after which transfer as much as a depth of 10 meters. The strain inside your lungs will keep the identical throughout this ascent, as a result of you have got the identical lung quantity, they usually comprise the identical quantity of air. Nonetheless, the water strain outdoors of them will lower. The lowered exterior strain in your lungs makes it as if they’re overinflated. This will trigger tears in lung tissue, and even pressure air into the bloodstream, which is formally dangerous stuff.


There’s one other downside to take care of when you’re underwater: floating and sinking. If you wish to keep underwater, it’s helpful to sink as an alternative of float—to a degree. I do not suppose anybody needs to sink to such depths that they by no means return. Additionally, it’s good to have the ability to float whenever you’re on the floor. Fortunately, scuba divers can change their “floatiness” for various conditions. That is referred to as buoyancy management.

Issues sink when the downward-pulling gravitational pressure is bigger than the upward-pushing buoyancy pressure. If these two forces are equal, then the article might be neutrally buoyant and neither rise nor sink. It is like hovering, however in water, and it’s primarily what you need to do when scuba diving.


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