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Whatever Gets You Through the Night

Ever wonder about not having enough air to breath? "Whatever Gets you Through the Night" on today's Moment of Science.

Ever wonder about not having enough air to breath? Whatever Gets you Through the Night on today’s Moment of Science.

Suppose you get stuck in a tight space with another person. How do you ensure that you’ll have enough air to breath? Well, the rule of thumb is that if there’s enough space to stand and stretch out, you’re okay. The average body uses about 1100 gallons of air overnight, which is the amount enclosed in a room that’s six by five, and about six feet high.

A body at rest uses a lot less oxygen than a body in motion. During the day, under normal conditions, you use about 3300 gallons of air, but when you exercise, you can require up to twenty gallons of air per minute.

Stop to consider that airtight rooms are expensive and hard to come by. Even hospital isolation rooms aren’t airtight. Instead, they’re set up so the air pressure in them is lower than the air pressure in surrounding rooms; this is enough to prevent germs from spreading.

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