SCUBA and the Gas Laws

Though scuba has transformed to actually be the word we use when taking part in the act of scuba diving, it is actually an acronym, standing for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. The act of scuba diving was first created in 1943 by Frenchmen Émile Gagnan and Jacques-Yves Cousteau when they safely and successfully invented a twin hose system known as the Aqua-Lung. It was first patented two years later in 1945. This was all to help supply divers breathe as the apparatus fed them compressed air. The pressure of water changes when going deeper below the surface as there is more pressure pushing down on you. Thus, the atmosphere around you is changing. There is also a less significant chance of death from scuba diving than there is in playing soccer, golfing, skydiving, or even simply driving a car, showing how safe scuba diving really is compared to other athletic activities.
English chemist William Henry created a scientific law, named Henry’s Law after himself, which states that the amount of dissolved gas that is located in a liquid is equivalent to the partial pressure that is on top of the liquid. The bends, or decompression sickness, occurs when the makeup of the bubbles around you affects your lungs, heart, skin, joints, and brain when they dissolve, and the scuba diver becomes decompressed. The body absorbs this gas, which is mostly nitrogen, and causes changes in the body. The shallowest water depth where the bends reportedly occurred was at ten feet below the water’s surface. It has negative effects on the body, causing a burning pain in the chest that worsens with breathing, coughing, problems with breathing, as well as blue lips and skin. A very rare symptom of the bends, is the chokes, where a person experiences decompression of the lungs and lung sickness. Death, another rare symptom, can also occur. To prevent the bends from occurring, divers must stay at a certain point of depth in the water until the right amount of gas has been eliminated from the body before the diver can venture to lower altitudes. Diver’s must also keep a dive plan and time out their depths of the water the diver travels in and keep themselves thoroughly hydrated before taking part in scuba diving. The bends refers back to Henry’s Law as it proves that the water pressure does indeed escalate the further down you get in the water and how it negatively affects your body because of the pressure changes.
Physicist Robert Boyle had also created a scientific law of his own, with French physicist Edme Mariotte discovering the particular law a year later. The Boyle Law or Boyle-Mariotte Law, states that in the given amount of gas, the pressure and volume of the gas depend on each other, with the temperature held constant at all times. Another illness a diver can receive is pulmonary barotrauma, occurring when a diver holds their breath during the act of descending lower into the water’s surface, causing the rise of pressure in the diver’s lungs, as well as a rupture of the lungs. The lung tissue can also result in impairment due to the insertion of air. It occurs when a diver is also panicked when ascending back to the water’s surface.
Barotrauma occurs when the diver becomes exposed to a major change of air pressure A list of symptoms includes: chest pain, shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, blood clots, unconsciousness, hoarseness of the throat, as well as neck fullness. Cases of recovery range anywhere from two weeks through the most mild and six months to a year for the most severe. Precautions can be taken to prevent a diver from suffering from pulmonary barotrauma, such as, limiting the depth of the water you dive to, buoyancy control, do not partake in diving when suffering from a cold or cough, and keep hydration up before diving. The occurrence of pulmonary barotrauma is proved from Boyle’s Law because gas is trapped in the diver’s body when the pressure decreases and volume of the water increases around them, causing blood clots and other symptoms to gradually occur.
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