Extreme limits of the human body: how much can we survive?
Huff Post — One hears epic accounts of people surviving bullets to the brain, 10-story freefalls or months stranded at sea. But put a human anywhere in the known universe except for the thin shell of space that extends a couple of miles above or below sea level on Earth, and we perish within minutes. As strong and resilient as the human body seems in some situations, considered in the context of the cosmos as a whole, it’s unnervingly fragile.
Many of the boundaries within which a typical human can survive have been fully established; the well-known “rule of threes” dictates how long we can forgo air, water and food (roughly three minutes, three days and three weeks, respectively). Other limits are more speculative, because people have seldom, if ever, tested them. For example, how long can you stay awake before you die? How high in altitude can you climb before suffocating? How much acceleration can your body withstand before it rips apart?
Experiments over the decades — some intentional, others accidental — have helped stake out the domain within which we, literally, live.