May 18, 2024

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The secret history of the discovery of submarine raids

The secret history of the discovery of submarine raids

The history of humanity is full of moments of troubled souls who did not hesitate to sacrifice themselves in order to find that thing that would change humanity.

Most of them had noble intentions, but their inventions turned out to be extremely destructive.

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At the same time, in many cases, they achieved their goal, not caring about the “later”. One of the most recent relevant examples is electric cars, which have not yet found an effective, environmentally friendly way to manage batteries, after they have been completed “their way” And stop working forever.

This was nothing before the invention of the submarine, and before there was a way to do this Their crews are breathingIn case they are trapped under the sea.

And so we come to our topic today: the story that remained hidden for 62 years about the process that allowed divers and submarine crews to breathe under the sea.

The first operational submarine went to sea in 1620

The first floating, operable, steerable submarine was built in 1620 by Dutch engineer and inventor Cornelis Drebbel. He was one of many who responded to the call of the British Royal Navy and the only one who was able to surrender.

Three hundred and nineteen (319) years later, in 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, the British Royal Navy made another request to the scientific community: it asked to discover a more effective way for submarine crews and divers to breathe. In case they are trapped under the sea.

the Submarine “Thetis” It had just sunk during testing, and four people survived, but 99 people became trapped and died because the breathing apparatus on board were insufficient.

Until then, divers wore bulky wetsuits and large helmets, while those who spent time below the surface needed a cable attached to the boat to get a constant supply of air.

Also, by the late 1930s, experts knew all about the dangers of decompression sickness resulting from a rapid return to the surface after diving to great depths. This meant the change in pressure flooded the bloodstream with nitrogen bubbles (sometimes these bubbles obstructed the blood flow and often cost lives).

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The engineer who investigated the Thetis disaster asked John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (J.P.S. Haldane), a member of the Department of Genetics at University College London, for help in understanding what happened.

As a child, the British-Indian scientist who worked in physiology, genetics, evolutionary biology, and mathematics, became a regular collaborator in experiments with his physiologist father. At the age of three he became a blood donor.

At age 4, he was holding a jar out a train window to collect air samples (which, incidentally, is why father and son found carbon monoxide levels so alarmingly high that the city decided to electrify the railroads). At the same age, he also explored coal mining to understand how people breathe in confined and dangerous spaces.

It was John Scott Haldane’s idea to use it Canary Islands To detect gas leaks.

When JBS was thirteen, Father Haldane was testing a new theory he had about diving. He thought he had a way to keep them Divers are safe Avoid decompression sickness. He tested his theories on his son, who, among other things, inhaled various gases, in the laboratory that his father built in the family home.

The Haldane family crest was carved into the stonework of its entrance: Suffering.

I probably don’t need to say anything more to understand why J. B. S. Haldane accepted the invitation of British marine researchers in 1939.

Haldane, along with many other scientists, became (themselves) guinea pigs in over 600 tests Which involved inhaling gases, including oxygen and carbon dioxide, at varying levels. The goal was to see how their body reacts to different levels of stress.

The carbon dioxide was causing headaches, making them feel tired and hyperoxic.

It turns out that Thetis’ crew died from too much carbon dioxide, and he tells Haldane that the solution to the problem is to find a way for future crews to ingest the gas.

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It also turns out that pure oxygen has become toxic. It causes seizures, vomiting, and visual impairment. The researchers were seeing flashes of color. Haldane suffered a seizure in his back. His wife, who helped him with the experiments, suffered a dislocated jaw in a similar experience.

How were experiments conducted that allowed survival underwater?

In 1942, at the beginning of August, in a mud-brick warehouse in London – near Big Ben – the two scientists were studying the pressure of the ocean on people while diving in submarines.

There was a heavy steel pipe (room type) on a platform – in the corner of the warehouse – only 1.2 meters in diameter, with wooden floorboards and rounded ends. Air tubes act as antennas.

In this narrow space Haldane the Great was crowded He was sitting curled up On the floor is geneticist and biologist Dr. Helen Spurway – sitting in a chair.

Spurway was Haldane’s second wife. She followed him to England from India and recommended herself for the biologist’s experiments.

They both knew that the toxic effects of oxygen (ranging from visual hallucinations to seizures) became much worse under high stress levels. Spurway made her body available for research to understand how bad these effects were.

Before each test, he wore a nose clip. Her lips were sealed with a rubber gag. It was attached to long, curly sleeves that ended in a leather bag that was strapped to her chest. He called it Salvos, and that was how Haldane found it for his wife to be able to breathe pure oxygen.

(A year later, Jacques Cousteau invented the AquaLung)

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As the pair sat in the tube, Schreck closed it and began the experimental procedures, intended to show how long Spurway could breathe oxygen before it began poisoning her.

A loud, tube-vibrating whistle signaled the start of each test and the filling of the chamber with compressed gas.

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All this simulates ocean pressure during submarine diving.

as The gas continued to press to find the way From within the steel tube, the pair created the internal pressure levels felt by divers swimming in the depths of the ocean.

The temperature rose as the amount of gas increased and made the already small space even smaller. The atmosphere became denser and more suffocating. Not even the flies were spared, while the scientists’ voices reached an octave that catches like the swallowing sun. Breathing and movement were gaining.

Before Haldane and Spurway felt they had reached their limits of survival — the highest level of pressure and searing heat they could withstand — what divers feel 25 meters below the surface.

They watched each other sweat as the hiss of air diminished as the condition inside the chamber reached the desired pressure. Next, the third partner (the only one outside the tube) shuts off the air supply. Haldane was keeping time.

Spurway’s best performance was It absorbs oxygen for 33 minutes, before throwing away the mouthpiece and vomiting. He was back breathing the air in the room. He has also reported seeing flashes of purple lights dancing around.

And there were crises Too bad In a dry hyperbaric chamber. When a researcher conducted his experiments in water, he almost drowned while breathing oxygen.

It became known that inhaling normal air (mainly nitrogen) with increased pressure causes the phenomenon now known as nitrogen narcosis.

“It is so powerful that human intelligence cannot be trusted under these conditions,” Haldane wrote in a report after researchers had difficulty performing calculations under its influence. It looked like it could be Deadly for divers Who were trying to complete simple tasks.

It took 3 years and more than 600 tests using different gas mixtures before Haldane discovered that oxygen combined with air would eventually help the Allies defeat Hitler – allowing submarine crews and divers to breathe underwater without any side effects.

The practical application of discovery

Uniforms for divers in Normandy.


Jack Boyer / Jack Boyer / Roger Violette

The result of their work was the small submarine X-craft, which crossed the English Channel for the first time on January 18, 1944. It was not detected for 4 days. He would go out to the roof every 12 hours to get fresh air and return to work. He repeated the trip several times on reconnaissance missions.

Each time two officers went ashore in France to lay mines and collect information about the locations of the weapons of the Germans, who had set up a fair number of forts. All of these were used in landing 160 thousand soldiers The Allied Battle of the Normandy Coast took place five months later (6/6), with the aim of retaking the European mainland. The Germans completed four years of rule in France, which ended there after the first Allied amphibious assault.

All this became known in 2001 when the documents of the Haldane project were declassified.