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Author: Subject: 'Sudden Deceleration' Suit, or John Stapp's Revenge
elementcollector1
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[*] posted on 6-1-2019 at 01:02
'Sudden Deceleration' Suit, or John Stapp's Revenge


So, I had an idea that I wanted to pitch, because it both sounds dumb and sounds like it should've already been tried if it were any good.

When humans fall and hit the ground, or otherwise sustain a large but very short impact, damage comes from two main sources: A shockwave that travels up the body and generally rattles things around, and the sudden deceleration causing internal organs to shift position, usually in a very painful and fatal manner. The shockwave can fairly easily be dealt with via modern energy-absorbing shocks (hydraulic or otherwise), but the deceleration would still occur.

My idea comes from a few sources. One is this article from the New York Times from 2000, explaining that a water-based immersion suit can effectively counteract the blood-pooling effects of high-G maneuvers by pilots.

This is in turn based on the anatomy of a dragonfly, which includes a liquid-filled sac around the cardiac system that protects it from up to 30G of acceleration. It also finds some support in reports of unborn fetuses surviving plane crashes, protected by the fluid inside the womb from the impact.

So the idea, at its most basic, would be to encase the entire human body in a pressurized suit of water, instead of just localizing this around the veins. This would prevent the body inside from shifting around too much during deceleration, as well as the veins from pooling blood or other similar effects. It's not without problems from the get-go - breathing would have to be replaced with an oxygen pump and a few tubes extending into the lungs, because the pressurized water would render them unable to expand and contract normally. Assuming that the lungs only expand and contract to pull in and push out air, that is, which I don't know for certain. But my hope is that if the pressure were high enough (without being so high as to crush the human body), internal organs would resist moving around and a human would thus be able to survive impacts, falls and other sudden decelerations.

Any thoughts? Questions? I'm fully expecting this not to work for one reason or another, but I'd certainly be interested to know what those are.




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[*] posted on 6-1-2019 at 11:34


I am only replying because I find this interesting at a high level.
That said, it is beyond my knowledge base but, is still fascinating to me.
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[*] posted on 6-1-2019 at 11:41


One problem would be making sure that the
deceleration not exceed whatever critical value
it has, which defines the maximum safe limit.

One method which might work:

First have the person don some scuba tanks
so they can breathe.

Then wrap the person in many, many feet of bubble
wrap, securing it with miles of duct tape.

The finished "suit" would be a sphere of bubble wrap
approximately 100 feet in diameter.

To test it, this finished outfit with the protected
person inside could be flown to about 10,000 feet AGL
and released.

The terminal velocity of the 100 foot diameter ball
with person inside wearing scuba tanks might get to
around 70 mph. Maybe less.

The impact with the ground would hopefully not be
injurious to the test subject.

P.S.:....There's already a time-tested method that does
the same thing, it's called a parachute.:D




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[*] posted on 6-1-2019 at 11:43


Concussion results from the brain smacking into the inside of the skull. Its about as protected as it gets in the human body, being encased in bone and floating in fluid.
I don't think your water suit is going to do much to stop a similar thing happening to the rest of the body. You still have to decelerate everything very fast, and that means applying large unidirectional forces to the body.

I don't want to be your guinea pig.




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elementcollector1
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[*] posted on 6-1-2019 at 17:38


Quote: Originally posted by sodium_stearate  

P.S.:....There's already a time-tested method that does
the same thing, it's called a parachute.:D


True, but that's significantly less fun. The point of this thought exercise is to wonder how a human might survive an impact, not necessarily a high-altitude fall. Falls are great examples of impacts that are a pretty routine hazard in human society compared to other types, but the hopeful goal is a suit that can resist all (or at least most) types of impact, from all directions. It's a pipe dream, but most thought experiments are.

I guess it's also worth mentioning that I'd like this suit to be convenient to use, as well. Parachutes are very effective, but highly inconvenient, and this drives a lot of their use (for example, highrise window cleaners seldom if ever use them, while their use is all but mandated in any military activity involving aircraft).

Quote:
Concussion results from the brain smacking into the inside of the skull. Its about as protected as it gets in the human body, being encased in bone and floating in fluid.
I don't think your water suit is going to do much to stop a similar thing happening to the rest of the body. You still have to decelerate everything very fast, and that means applying large unidirectional forces to the body.


Again, very true. There's been a lot of study done in this regard in the sports field, particularly football - a helmet that prevents concussions would be extremely useful. Unfortunately, not much headway has been made (pun entirely intended).

Ultimately, the goal in reducing the damage of an impact would be to redirect the force, slow down the time period over which it is delivered, distribute it over such a large area that it would be ineffective at causing any major damage, and/or provide a counterforce that results in a net jerk below what is needed to damage the body. The parachute accomplishes the last via drag force, and a water suit would hopefully go some way towards the third, in that a sufficiently large body of water would act to evenly distribute the pressure of impact over the entire body instead of a landing surface like the feet, torso or head.

One could in theory (given enough warning as to the impact itself) provide a source of thrust in an opposing direction, which would then act much like a parachute, but such things are usually done via consumable power sources like chemical/liquid/gaseous propellants (lumping rockets, electrically-powered fans and the water jetpack in here), and thus not terribly viable for a repeatable method of reducing injury generated from impact. In other words, they might work, with the proper engineering... once. Unfortunately, technology simply hasn't advanced enough in this regard to scale this up to the human size and make it repeatable, so I'm considering other options at the moment. Even parachutes themselves have a complicated deployment mechanism and are pretty inconvenient to reset after being used - hence why they're not really seen, for example, on skyscraper window cleaners.

Quote:
I don't want to be your guinea pig.

What, you don't want to follow in the infamous footsteps of John Stapp, somebody probably nobody but me has heard of before upon reading this?

So if the water suit by itself doesn't work, the next best thing would then be to have a distance sensor array strapped to a suit and facing in all directions. Once a sufficiently close surface (the ground, a wall, etc.) were detected, measures would be taken to start generating thrust in the opposite direction of this surface, so as to slow down or even stop any eventual impact from happening. This would, of course, require powered equipment (and a very directionally-stable and easily positioned method of generating thrust), but it could also be easily adjusted to the human body's needs when it comes to how far away the surface is and therefore how much opposing thrust needs to be generated and maintained until impact. The water suit would likely still be present (although not as pressurized as before, if that doesn't actually prevent internal organs from moving around), serving its original purpose of preventing blood rushing to wherever is currently facing downwards.




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