Dive Physics Takes Flight

All divers learn a certain amount of physics through their training.  Whether you are an open water diver learning about why we don’t hold our breath and why we let air out o our BCD as we ascend or learning to be an instructor and learning to teach these concepts and more we all have to study it.  The last time I was on an airplane I wasn’t a diver.  So, on my trip back to the east coast I noticed some things that interested me.  So for any non-divers out there here are a few interesting things to think about next time you fly.

First I noticed that an unopened bag of pretzels was full of more air than it had been on the ground.  But really there wasn’t any more air it was just that the molecules were farther apart.   It illustrates the concept of expansion pretty well.  Eventually, if we had ascended to a high enough altitude, the bag would have burst open.  We teach in open water that air expands as we ascend and the atmospheric pressure decreases.  Probably the more well-known concept is the compression of things as we descend to a depth.  It’s a little tidbit I can file away for use in my classes.

I also noticed that the bottle of lemonade that we purchased for my son got harder to open and the bottle became hard.  This is also due to the decrease in atmospheric pressure.  But, this is also a tool that I use when I teach Advanced Open Water.  We take a water bottle full of air to depth and note that the bottle collapses as we descend.  We can also add more air to the bottle at depth and note that the bottle gets very hard as we ascend.

A few others I have heard of are taking a tennis ball down and watching it pop on the way back up, or cracking and egg under water and watching how the pressure keeps it together suspended in the water.

I guess I’m doomed to think of physics every time I’m on an airplane now.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Jul 16, 2013 @ 16:10:10

    Interesting facts


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