Most humans can hold their breath for only a short time. The average person can hold their breath for about 40 seconds. Researchers found that the longest someone can hold their breath is around 11 minutes. But some people can do better.
The world record for the longest someone has held their breath is over 24 minutes! Now that’s impressive. But how deep can humans dive? Most of us will never need to find out, but it’s still interesting to know.
The record for the deepest human dive is 1,082 feet! That’s over 3 football fields end to end! The person who holds this record is a man named Herbert Nitsch. He’s an Austrian national and he’s also a professional freediver.
The Physics of Diving
Diving is a physical activity that has limitations due to the way our bodies are designed and how we interact with the environment. The maximum depth a human can dive is dependent on many factors, including the type of dive, the amount of air in the lungs, and the body’s natural buoyancy.
As you descend deeper into the water, the pressure on your body increases. The air in your lungs also feels this pressure, and so it shrinks. The deeper you go, the smaller your lungs get.
At some depth, the pressure is so great that your lungs have shrunk to the point where they can no longer take in any air. This is called the “critical point.” Beyond this depth, you can no longer inhale, and so you can no longer get oxygen to your tissues.
The pressure also affects the gases dissolved in your blood. These gases come out of solution and form bubbles. These bubbles can block small blood vessels and cause pain (the “bends”). They can also enter your joints and cause damage.
Boyle’s law is named after Robert Boyle, who published his findings in 1662. Boyle’s law states that the pressure and volume of a gas are inversely proportional. In other words, when the pressure of a gas increases, the volume decreases. This relationship is also represented by the following equation:
PV = k
where P is pressure, V is volume, and k is a constant.
You can see how this works using a balloon as an example. When you blow up a balloon, the air inside the balloon becomes more compressed. This increase in pressure results in a decrease in volume. You can see this relationship represented in the graph below.
The Relationship Between Depth and Pressure
As you descend in the water, the pressure on your body increases. This is because there is more water above you, and water is very heavy. The pressure increase with depth can be described by an equation:
P = P0 + dvg
P is the total pressure at depth d
P0 is the surface pressure (1 atmosphere)
d is the depth in meters
v is the specific volume of seawater (approximately 1 gram per cubic centimeter)
g is the acceleration due to gravity (9.8 m/s2)
This equation shows that the pressure at depth d is equal to the surface pressure plus an additional pressure that increases with depth. The additional pressure at a given depth is called the hydrostatic pressure, and it results from the weight of the water above you.
The Physiology of Diving
The Effects of Pressure on the Body
The effects of pressure on the body can be both positive and negative. Positive effects include an increased feeling of well-being and euphoria, as well as improved circulation and respiration. Negative effects can include pain in the ears, sinuses, and joints; narcosis; and an increased risk of decompression sickness.
Decompression sickness, more commonly known as “the bends,” is an insidious threat faced by divers. It occurs when dissolved gases come out of solution in the blood and tissues. This can happen if a diver ascends too quickly, causing bubbles of gas to form in the blood and tissues. If these bubbles are not allowed to slowly dissipate, they can cause serious damage to the body.
There are two types of decompression sickness: mild and severe. Mild decompression sickness is also known as type I decompression sickness, while severe decompression sickness is known as type II decompression sickness. Both types are dangerous and can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Mild decompression sickness symptoms include joint pain, itching, rashes, and fatigue. Severe decompression sickness symptoms include paralysis, pulmonary edema, and cerebral edema.
Decompression sickness is a very real danger for divers, and it should be taken seriously. If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from decompression sickness, seek medical help immediately.
Deep Diving Records
The human body is not physiologically built to withstand the immense pressure that comes with deep diving, but that hasn’t stopped some people from pushing the limits. descent into the depths of the ocean. Divers have to undergo special training to be able to hold their breath for long periods of time and deal with the nitrogen narcosis that comes with deep diving. Here are some of the deepest dives on record.
The Deepest Dive Ever Recorded
On May 31, 1960, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Donald Walsh and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard set off on their journey into the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Earth’s oceans. They descended nearly seven miles in the bathyscaphe Trieste, breaking the previous record set by the British Navy in 1949.
The Marianas Trench is located in the Pacific Ocean near Japan and the Philippines. It extends for 2,550 miles and has an average depth of 36,201 feet, with a maximum depth of nearly seven miles. The trench is home to some of the most extreme conditions on Earth, with pressures estimated to be 1,000 times that of sea level at the bottom.
Walsh and Piccard’s record-breaking dive took place in an area known as Challenger Deep, which is located at the southern end of the trench. The bathyscaphe descended at a rate of 200 feet per minute, and it took them nearly five hours to reach the bottom. Once there, they observed a strange light that appeared to be emanating from below them in the darkness.
After spending about 20 minutes at the bottom of Challenger Deep, Walsh and Piccard began their ascent back to the surface. Trieste reached the surface just over three hours later, making it the longest and deepest dive in history up to that point.
The Deepest Dive Without Breathing Apparatus
On May 21, 2013, Ahmed Gabr set the world record for the deepest dive without breathing apparatus, descending to a depth of 1,090 feet (332 meters) in the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt. Gabr, an Egyptian military officer and instructor, completed his record-breaking dive in just 10 minutes and 42 seconds.
In general, the deepest a person can go without any special breathing apparatus is around 130 feet. This is because at depths greater than 130 feet, the pressure of the water starts to compress the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.