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Importance of Survival Skills

How Long Could Star-Lord Survive in Space Unprotected? (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)


– If you know one thing about space, it’s that you don’t enter it unprotected by a ship or a suit. If you get blown out of
an airlock without either, that’s it, you’re done. Or are you? In the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, we see something that
goes against pretty much every other death by
space we’ve ever seen. So, if you were blown out of an airlock, what would really happen to your body, and do you have to be one of
the Guardians of the Galaxy to survive it? Alright, I’m talking
specifically about this scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1, when Peter Quill
intentionally exits his ship to gift Gamora his kick-ass mask. It looks like he spends
a fair amount of time in the vacuum of space without exploding or bleeding from the eyes like
we’ve seen in other films. So, which version of death
by space is accurate? First of all, space is deadly. There’s no air for you
to breathe in space, and you would eventually suffocate. But what else happens? Humans, like every
other organism on Earth, evolved under some kind of pressure, pushing down on me, pushing down on you, no man asked for. For us primates, that
pressure has always been about 100,000 pascals, or around 15 pounds per
square inch of pressure, and that comes from the mass
of air that surrounds us. That pressure, in part, helped determine what our bodies would look like, how our blood would carry gas, and even how our lungs
would be able to force air into themselves. So, if all the air was
suddenly sucked away from us, like there’s some mysterious hole, then it would be, you’d be (coughs). So, if all the air was
sucked away from you through some theoretical hole, you’d be forgiven in
thinking that your blood and your body and your lungs
might kind of expand outwards without the inward push of pressure, and they might more or less
expand to their breaking points like marshmallows in a vacuum chamber. But what would really happen
to the human body in space, aside from choking to death of course, is a bit more subdued. Peter Quill was lucky
because space turns the body into a bloated bag, not a bomb. In the history of human space flight, no person has fully subjected
their bodies to the void, but we do have a good idea of what would happen to
their bodies if they did because of experiments we’ve conducted, like in 1965, when NASA
put a bunch of dogs in a vacuum chamber and depressurized it, effectively throwing
them out of an airlock. Here’s what happened next. I’m sorry about this. All animals exposed to the low pressure for longer than five seconds
tended to lose consciousness and began to swell and collapse in between nine and 11 seconds. Within the next five seconds, unless the animals were recompressed, they began to show marked expansion due to gases and gas expulsion from the
stomach and lower bowel, often leading in simultaneous, oh, simultaneous projectile vomiting, oh, defecation, oh, come on, and urination. And the water vapor and gas expansion were of such magnitude that the animals quickly
became immobilized with the neck, body, and
extremities in extended positions similar in appearance to
an inflated goatskin bag. It can’t get worse, right? It’s fine. While at the low pressure, the saliva-like excretions and urine became frozen and partially dehy–, like a pee-sicle, partially dehydrated. It was also noticed in several animals that after recompression to ground level, the tongue was coated in ice. After the test chamber was repressurized, the dogs that did recover, some didn’t depending on how
long they’re exposed to vacuum, returned to functional inside 30 minutes. After 24 hours, the dogs that did survive were back to normal, which
fits with another study, also in 1965, also by NASA, on chimps. But all the chimps in this study survived even after being exposed to
the vacuum of space for minutes and showed no ill effects afterwards. So, if you are thrown out of an airlock and you look like a gross
blue Gumby creature, first the air in your tissues
and your blood would boil, except they wouldn’t get hot, so you would just bloat. But your skin is strong
enough, so it wouldn’t rip. And then, all the air in
your lungs and in your bowels would force their way out, and it would rip your lungs’
tissue and freeze your tongue and it would also pee your
pants and then poop your pants and then you might
projectile vomit as well. And then, you’d lose consciousness. But you would not die immediately. In fact, you have a few seconds of sanity and you could be safely recovered and returned to your normal state if you were saved quickly enough. This useful consciousness time, according to all the
experiments that we’ve done, is around 15 uncomfortable seconds, and death follows minutes thereafter. Based on the experiments that we’ve done, there is a finite amount of time where a bloated gross Peter
could save Gamora’s life and a finite amount of
time before they both die after passing out. Did they make it? Let’s look at this scene again. Since a lack of oxygen is the real reason that space kills you eventually, we want a total time without air, allowing for the passage
of time with camera cuts. So, it looks like Peter spends about 10 seconds putting his mask on Gamora. This is the time that he has
to be usefully conscious. It also looks like Gamora
is exposed for 70 seconds before the mask is put on her, and Peter is exposed to space
for a total of 50 seconds after he removes his mask before both are saved by the Ravagers. According to everything
that we just went through, all three of these numbers check out. This is enough time to
be usefully conscious, and this is enough time to
be unconscious but saveable. It could totally happen. In fact, there’s another
unintentional experiment that proves this. In 1965, NASA test
subject Jim LeBlanc’s suit accidentally depressurized
inside of a full vacuum vacuum chamber. He passed out within 15 seconds but was revived 30 seconds later after the chamber was represssurized. His eyes didn’t pop out of his head. He didn’t explode. His body didn’t freeze solid. But he did say that the last memory he had before he passed out was
the saliva on his tongue bubbling away. If Jim could survive this kind of exposure in this time frame, Star-Lord too could survive
his contact with the cosmos. So, how long could Star-Lord or you survive in space unprotected? Well, based on all the
experiments we’ve done and the accidents that we’ve had, you could be conscious
for about 15 seconds before you’re passed out and
then have minutes to live in which time you could be saved. What I’m trying to say is that that scene in Guardians
of the Galaxy Volume 1 is more or less scientifically accurate, right down to the frost on Peter’s face from his instantaneously evaporated sweat. Although before the
Ravagers beam them aboard, they might want to change
both of their pants. Because Science. Thank you so much for watching. Make sure to follow me
on Twitter at @Sci_Phile where you can suggest
ideas for future episodes and on Facebook and Instagram where I’m now posting
mini episodes of my show like I did today. Thank you, again, for doing it. The dance-off scene at the end
of Guardians of the Galaxy 1 is a lot of fun, but remember that Ronan
only had to touch his staff down to the surface of Xandar and it would explode, right? He had 62 seconds to do that. Like just, ooh-cha, boop. No, come on, dance-off, boop. No, come on, I’m just
trying to distract, boop.

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