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In the Star Trek movie Nemesis the bridge decompresses, I was wondering if the violent evacuation of air cause immediate unconsciousness, and would people be able to hold on to something so they won't get blown out into space? or would death be immediate?  Thanks a lot


Immediate unconsciousness?  No.  People can be exposed to vacuum for a certain amount of time and survive, in a rapidly decompressing environment they'd probably get the bends before passing out.  They would eventually pass out, of course, either from lack of oxygen (slow) or the bends (sudden).  Whether or not they'd be able to hold on to something would depend on the size of the breach, the source of the rest of the air, and the specific dynamics of the flow.  Any way you slice it, it would not be easy at all.  If they managed the first second without getting jerked out, the lowering pressure should make it easier to hang on.

Either way, death wouldn't be immediate even if they got jerked into hard vacuum.  The human body takes a while to die, even in vacuum.  


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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