17

A very popular videogame character, which is famous for his sonic speed, is depicted breathing underwater by using air bubbles. Now since I've never heard anyone complaining about this, despite the large amount of people I see complaining about the lack of reality in fiction media, I assume many of them believe it's possible. I hope that's enough to constitute a popular claim by omission.

Anyway, considering the air flowing at the bottom of a swimming pool is the same as the ground atmosphere's, is it possible for a human, not a hedgehog, to breath in it?

References

It's been discussed in the Mythbusters forum.

Animals reportedly breathing underwater with air bubbles.

  • 4
    We want to focus our attention on doubtful claims that are widely held or are made by notable people. Please provide some references to places where this claim is being made. – Sklivvz Jun 24 '12 at 13:12
  • Hang on the downvotes, I'm looking for some references. – Renan Jun 24 '12 at 13:18
  • Downvote is not mine :-) – Sklivvz Jun 24 '12 at 13:19
  • 1
    Were you joking or did you genuinely believe you had to avoid direct mention of Sonic the Hedgehog to avoid litigation? What a sad place this world has become where people are so in fear... – Timwi Jun 25 '12 at 22:46
  • 1
    @kokbira Gas trapped in a cave underwater may or may not be breathable (e.g., there's something that consumes the oxygen or emits some contaminating gas). The only caveat is that the air would be pressurized to the ambient water pressure, which introduces a number of risks as covered in basic SCUBA training (the big one being that if you take a breath and swim to the surface, the gas will expand as the ambient pressure decreases; if you don't exhale to relieve the expanding gas, it can result in severe injury or death). – Larry OBrien Jun 26 '12 at 18:28
32

As a scuba diver I can assure you it's possible. One thing you need to do to get your licence is to breathe from a stream of bubbles from a free-flowing (faulty) regulator. That kind of fault causes the air to flow freely from the air tank, generating a major stream of bubbles. By placing your mouth over that stream you can breathe from it. Even though we were less than 1 meter under, to me it was by far the hardest of all the tests, but I did it, and so did everyone else in my class. I just hope I never have to do this deep underwater!

This page explains how to do it.

7

Yes, you can breathe from a sufficiently robust stream of bubbles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=my9sS_LpwoY

The video shows a diving instructor breathing from a free-flowing regulator, which means that it's providing a continuous stream of air, not "on demand" as is typical in SCUBA. Essentially, to breathe air bubbles, you place your mouth as close vertically above the source as possible, allowing the air stream to enter your mouth but leaving your lips open; the air displaces the water that would otherwise enter your throat.

You can find additional videos or discussion by searching for that term. It's a basic diving skill.

There is confusion if "[t]he question concerns breathing in air bubbles that are floating in the ocean or any other place with a decent amount of water." Air bubbles large enough to be significant to a human rise rapidly in water, as seen in the video.

  • 1
    Please, reputable references. – Sklivvz Jun 24 '12 at 20:27
  • 5
    The video is a demonstration of breathing from a stream of bubbles. What kind of reference would be preferable? – Larry OBrien Jun 24 '12 at 21:47
  • 2
    @Sklivvz: The diver is depressing the purge button on the front of their regulator's second stage (the bit that goes in the mouth). That causes it to flow freely - you can see the regulator continues to bubble away when she takes it out of her mouth (regulators don't normally do that, unless you hold them mouthpiece-up). The diver sips from the fleeflowing stream of bubbles. htdondt's answer provides this sort of detail in its link, which is preferable, though. – Joel Rein Jun 25 '12 at 12:13
  • 3
    Originally there was one line and and a link to a youtube video of a scuba diver, and nothing more. There was no scorn, but it was not a good answer, fundamentally. In fact, it looked suspiciously like a "hey there are scuba divers so it's clearly possible" kind of post - which is not an answer. The banner below is because YouTube is not a reputable source of information, at all. – Sklivvz Jun 25 '12 at 15:18
  • 1
    The video clearly demonstrates proof of the technique. It's a known scuba technique. It's being demonstrated. – Russell Steen Jun 26 '12 at 2:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .