• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Physics of scuba diving

Extracts from this document...


The effects of Pressure whilst Scuba diving

Scuba diving is a sport that many people enjoy but very few understand the physics behind. Physics is vital for divers, whether recreational or professional, as without an understanding of physical principles, diving would become unimaginably dangerous. Lots of interesting physics is involved in diving, the effects of buoyancy must be taken into account by divers to ensure that they have control of their bodies during a dive. image08.png

The phenomena of light and sound under the sea are also very different to those at the surface, Light is gradually filtered out as a diver descends, starting with red light each colour of the visible spectrum is lost, the last colour to be filtered out by the water column is blue (hence why many underwater pictures appear to be blue) until at around 70m all visible light has gone.

Sound travels much faster and further in the sea, this confuses the brain and means that sounds can appear to be all around a diver as the brain can only detect distance and direction of sounds by the time difference that they are detected in each ear, as the sounds travel much faster, the brain thinks that the sound must be all around, sounds also travel much further in water that in air, so quiet sounds are amplified and can lead to disorientation. (this is also why it is important for submarines to be quiet to avoid detection).image00.png

...read more.



The major issue with gases is that they, in comparison to water have much lower densities. For all practical purposes, water does not compress under pressure,(it does, but not enough for Scuba divers to need to worry about), conversely, gases are easily compressible, and their properties change as pressure increases. As a result divers need to be aware of the basic physical formulae that relate to gas. (explained below.)

But, what is to worry about? Scuba tanks are filled with normal air aren't they?

For the most part, scuba tanks are filled with normal air. (a few special high oxygen mixtures are used by professional divers so that divers can spend many hours underwater but the principles and dangers remain the same)

The gas that we call 'air' is actually a mixture of many gases; the two main components are Oxygen (21%) and nitrogen (78%). Usually the most important gas is oxygen. Obviously humans must have a constant supply of oxygen in order to survive. Oxygen bonds easily with other elements and is thus able to aid the body in carrying nutrients around the body, thereby enabling life.

In spite of its abundance, at surface pressures, Nitrogen has almost no effects on the human body. All the nitrogen we breathe in, is exhaled without any changes to the gas, or the human body. A small amount is absorbed by the body, but at the surface it is not noticeable.

...read more.



Other effects of pressure experienced by diversimage14.png

Another extension of Boyle's law, is that as a diver descends, the gas inside the body gets less dense, as a result the deeper a diver goes, the more able he is to sink. A diver needs to control their buoyancy however, so a scuba system usually incorporates a way to fill a suit with some air, to stop the rate of descent (usually in the form of an inflatable jacket called a buoyancy control device or BCD). As shown above, it is important that when ascending the diver releases this air from the BCD, as the gas inside will increase and cause rapid ascent, a slow controlled descent is required to allow nitrogen to be released from the body.


As I have shown, the effects of pressure that are experienced during Scuba diving are vitally important, and if not taken into account, could cause serious problems.

Without physics, Scuba diving would be impossible!

BCd image


title page image




...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Modern Physics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Modern Physics essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Energy and its uses

    3 star(s)

    was supplied by a person to the hand wheel this was converted to rotational energy with losses due to heat and friction, it was then converted to kinetic energy along the belt with energy loss due to friction, heat and sound, this was then converted to rotational energy at the

  2. What Affects the Strength of Magnetism Exerted By an Electromagnet?

    This will consequently increase the influencing lines of flux and the power of magnetism.' Putting this hypothesis into action through the experiment; more paperclips should be attracted and lifted against their weight as the voltage is increased. However, as the power supply increases the current with the voltage, there should not be direct proportion in the results collected.

  1. Maglev Trains And The Technology Behind Them (magnetism)

    This produces a standing magnetic wave. Sections of the guideway are excited one after the other, with the excited section being immediately in front of the maglev vehicle. Superconducting magnets onboard the maglev vehicle are attracted to the section of the guideway immediately ahead of it, pulling the vehicle forward.

  2. Aurora- Light of Mystery.

    everyday environment because most of the materials we encounter in everyday life are electrically neutral. In fact this field has been protecting the earth's atmosphere by stopping the solar wind in a magnetic shock wave. Without this magnetic field, the atmosphere will be exposed to the high-energy solar wind and the solar particles will strip the air of the earth.

  1. Quality of Measurement - Physics AS

    0.02s as it falls, so all there is to do is count the dots for each height and times it by 0.02. Results Height (cm) +/- 0.1cm No. of dots on tape Time Taken (s) 100cm 22 22 x 0.02 = 0.44s 90cm 19 19 x 0.02 = 0.38s 80cm

  2. Elastictvy of Copper investigation

    - Also to make sure the experiment is done all at one time to make the results constant. - Also to use the same equipment if I am to repeat the experiment. - Ensure that the variables are appropriately changed Equipment list: > 2 pieces of copper wire > Weights

  1. A Comparison of Methods for History Matching.

    Another fact about permeability which it recognises is that it is inversely proportional to the time-of-flight. Changes to permeability to match water-cut data are done by assigning a multiplying factor '?' (SPE 66388). To account for the errors associated with assigning multiplying factors, the AHM technique can alter permeability/porosity transform,

  2. The physics of riding a bicycle entails many different properties.

    Since I was so young, I didn?t have the strength to move the wheels with enough force to keep them going. This is an example of how gravity plays a role in riding a bicycle. Gravity is the force that makes objects fall to the ground (?Forces of Machines 110?).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work