Saturday, August 06, 2005

Finding a way


A British remote-control submersible is working to cut away the cables ensnaring a Russian mini-sub and its crew of seven before their air runs out. Anything taking place 190 meters below the surface of the Pacific is by definition a dicey situation, but hopefully this one will end well.

It's dangerous down there, folks. Ask any submariner. If your boat sinks, you don't just drown. If the hull remains intact, you wait to run out of air and suffocate. If the hull is breached ... well, the water pressure at 190 meters is 19 atmospheres, or about 280 pounds per square inch -- above and beyond the one atmosphere of pressure at the surface. Call it 295 psi. Call it anything you want for that matter, but if you find yourself suddenly and explosively in it, you're done. According to The Guinness Book of World Records via the FAQ Farm, SCUBA dives of more than 300 meters have been made, but you don't just pop out into that kind of pressure and hope to make it up alive (nor, likely, do you dive down to that depth and try to do anything productive).

I always liked the idea of humping a rifle better. You might get shot, but at least that's often substantially up to your skill and ability. The ocean doesn't even know you're there and it will smash you like a bug without ever noticing.

Once again, if you pray, pray for these guys.

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