Hollywood lied to us: we can live in the vacuum of space for up to 180 seconds


Hollywood is notoriously anti-scientific in many regards. How often did you head explosions in space? Pretty often. But the explosions in space sound pretty much like … You saw it: they don’t sound at all. There is no matter to transmit that sound. Hollywood, busted.

Now, to another myth: that if you land outside the space shuttle without the suit you will boil and die and become instantly a block of ice. Well, not so fast

First off, if you expel the air from your lungs then you will be still conscious for 15 seconds, then you will faint and then, if someone recovers you in 1 – 3 minutes and puts you in a pressurized cabin, then you’ll be saved. For a full minute you can stay in the vacuum of space and survive.

How is that possible? Well, first, the vacuum of space means that there is no matter that would suck the heat from you. like cold air or water does. In the vacuum of space, you lose heat via IR radiation as each one of us emits photons in the IR and heat with them. Radiating heat is a slower process than direct contact.

Worse is the fact that there is zero pressure and you can’t hold your breath. Worse than this is the radiation from the sun. After a space walk you may suffer more from radiation bruising than from the loss of air or heat.

Read more about surviving vacuum here and here too.

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