US Scientist to Live Underwater For 100 Days in Record-Breaking Experiment

Being imprisoned in a tiny box that is submerged in water ranks highly on many people's lists of nightmares. Nevertheless, a US professor is deliberately doing this.

Joe Dituri, a biomedical engineering specialist and former US Navy diver, has been residing in a 55 square meter (592 square foot) room 30 feet below the Florida Keys since March 1 and intends to stay there for 100 days.

If he succeeds, he will set a new record for the length of time spent in an underwater habitat.

Dituri studies how the human body responds to hyperbaric pressure, which is when air pressure is higher than it would be at sea level. He intends to use his time spent underground to research the effects that living in such a stressful environment has on his health.

It's interesting to see how different Dituri's endeavor will be from living under water. While underwater, submarines are sealed and kept at atmospheric pressure. This indicates that even at depths of hundreds of meters, there is no appreciable variation in pressure.

But, unlike a submarine, Dituri's underwater housing won't have any air locks or solid doors to separate the dry living area from the ocean. Comparable to pushing a glass of water into a sink full of water when it is upside down.

Dituri's living quarters will still have a pocket of air at the top, and one room's floor will have a pool of water that originates from the ocean outside.

This indicates that when the weight of the ocean presses against his home, the air pressure around him rises. The air pressure within this habitat, which is 30 feet below the surface, is almost twice as high as what he is accustomed to.

under duress

The effects of prolonged hyperbaric pressure exposure on the body have not been well studied.

Hyperbaric pressure may, however, present a very serious hazard to humans, as every qualified diver is well aware of. Our bodies have evolved over many generations to function at sea level, where oxygen and carbon dioxide, the two main gases involved in breathing, are the only two that may readily pass between our lungs and blood.

Yet, when pressure rises, nitrogen from the air is pushed through our lungs' thin walls and into our blood. Many negative consequences may result from this. When submerged between 10 and 30 meters (33 and 98 feet), this might provide a slight euphoria and a happy disposition. The term "narcosis" refers to the intoxicated-like behavior that might result after around 30 meters below sea level and beyond.

Although scientists still don't completely understand why this occurs, it may be because of alterations in how neurotransmitters communicate between brain cells. Dituri, fortunately, won't be in danger because he's just submerged 10 meters.

health alterations

Yet as he adapts to his underwater surroundings, Dituri may anticipate going through more bodily changes.

Dituri will only receive half as much sunshine in the habitat as they would on land, despite the fact that it has enormous windows. This may interfere with his circadian rhythm, which depends on daylight and regulates numerous bodily processes, including our sleep-wake cycle. This can indicate sleep disturbances.

Getting adequate vitamin D will be another difficulty for Dituri. To produce this vitamin, the skin needs UV radiation, which is normally provided by the Sun. Dituri's underwater habitat makes it likely that he won't get adequate vitamin D exposure.

Maintaining immunity, muscular health, and bone density are all important functions of vitamin D. After just 14 days of living in a NASA-run underwater habitat designed to simulate space travel, researchers discovered that the immune systems of the subjects had been compromised.

To prevent declines in his immune system, Dituri will need to obtain vitamin D from additional sources, such as meals high in the vitamin, pills, or UV lamps.

Dituri will be living alone, but astronauts in comparable settings have reported latent illnesses happening. Many of us have these viruses, which our immune systems often keep in check. Dituri can become unwell as a result if his immune system starts to malfunction.

Dituri will solely exercise through swimming, save from a very limited amount of strolling around its environment. Losses in bone and muscle mass are probable due to swimming's non-weight-bearing nature; these losses may resemble those astronauts experience during protracted voyages to the International Space Station (but not as extreme).

Dituri might be able to halt the loss of muscle and bone mass by including some resistance workouts like squats and lunges.

Permanent consequences

Dituri will not be in a submarine's underwater environment, but the length of time he spends there is similar to what many submarine workers undergo.

Despite precautions to avoid it, research on submariners has shown that even just a few months below the surface can have long-term impacts.

Submariners, for instance, continued to have sleep disturbances and issues with hormone levels even after spending two months below. Bone and muscle mass decreases were also seen in the crew. This demonstrates how crucial it will be for Dituri to exercise regularly and obtain enough vitamin D exposure.

The biggest unknown is, of course, what impact prolonged hyperbaric pressure will have on Dituri. Only short-term exposures have been examined in the studies we do have on the effects of hyperbaric pressure, which may have had a beneficial impact on wound healing.

While Dituri is only one individual, the results of his experiment will still be helpful to the discipline because this will be a physically and maybe mentally demanding task.

Bradley Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Physiology, University of Westminster