The physics of scuba diving
Imagine swimming in the underwater world with all the creatures and all the beauty it holds. It is an amazing feeling to swim over coral reefs and see all the sea life up close and personal. So many scuba divers all over the world share a passion to scuba dive. Scuba diving has been a worldwide endeavor for centuries (1). Persian divers were making goggles for diving around 1300. A British engineer invented the air pump in 1771 and in 1772 a Frenchman tried inventing a re-breathing device that ended up killing him (1). In the 1800’s English inventors came up with more re-breathing devices (1). Over time dive suits that weighed a lot were invented along with tubes and air tanks. This is just a small amount of scuba diving equipment history. Today we have come a long way with diving equipment. We now use BCD’s. A BCD stands for buoyancy control device that you can inflate and deflate to maintain buoyancy while diving. We have dive computers to tell us how deep we are diving, the time, how much air we have in our tanks and what direction we are heading. We have regulators to keep us breathing under water, which is the most important part of diving. We even have wetsuits that help regulate the heat in our bodies and to protect us from the hazards of the environment such as fire corals or jelly fish that we may rub against. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors, also known as PADI for short, is the largest organization that offers training and certification for scuba divers (2). PADI offers training all over the world (2). PADI trains people to dive at certain depths as well as rescue diving, wreck diving and adventure diving. The first step to getting certified is to read the PADI manual and take a few tests and quiz’s to insure you understand the safety precautions and rules of diving. You then learn to use the BCD and to breathe through your regulator in a pool. After your pool training you will be taken out to do your open water dives and practice your skills. After you show your instructor that you can perform the necessary skills and you do your specified amount of dives, you will then be certified to dive anywhere at the depth that you are certified for. No matter where you live in the world you will receive the same PADI training that you would learn here in the United States. All hand signals that are used while diving are universal throughout the world. Although there are some dive shops in Mexico that will let you go diving without certification. They will give you a one hour course then take you for a dive. These shops usually have no affiliation with PADI. Some people may do this but it is much better to get certified so that you fully understand everything that you need to know before you go on a dive. Most dive shops will not take you out to dive if you cannot prove that you are certified. There are physics involved in every aspect of scuba diving, just as physics are involved in everything. The physics involved in scuba diving include Boyle’s law, Charles’ Law, Henry’s Law and Dalton’s Law. Boyles Law says that when pressure increases the volume decreases, and when volume increases the pressure decreases. This can be expressed by PV=k. The P stands for pressure, the V stands for volume of gas, and the k is a constant (3). This law helps us know what happens to the pressure where we contain air. This air can be in our lungs, mask, or BCD (3). When you descend your BCD will seem like it deflates, but instead of deflating the air inside is compressing into a smaller volume (3). When you ascend, you need to let air out of your BCD so that when the air expands and fills your BCD it won’t pull you up to the surface too fast (3). The same goes for your lungs. The deeper you go the more air you can take in so as you ascend you need to exhale. If you don’t exhale the air in the lungs they can expand past their capacity which can and will cause you injury....
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