Why Do Some Dive Watches Have Helium Escape Valves?

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Why Do Some Dive Watches Have Helium Escape Valves?

Postby koimaster » March 12th 2018, 9:43am

by Ashton Tracy

Humans have long had a fascination with the depths of the ocean, striving to go ever deeper, ever further, and ever faster by pushing the limits of the human body, technology, and advancing modern science.

But like all things, we humans are faced with limits.

Deep-sea divers used to face these limits when underwater for long periods. During time underwater tissue absorbs gases, and the time needed for ascension to the surface can take many hours, even when only exposed to certain depths for a few minutes.

Lengthy decompression times posed a problem for divers needing to spend prolonged periods of time at depth; and every decompression comes with risks as well. A solution was needed.

In 1957 Dr. George F. Bond, a United States Navy physician, began the Genesis Project, a medical experiment to study the effects of exposing animals to various breathing gases at different underwater depths to observe the effects on their bodies.

The experiment proved that bodies reach a saturation point and no more time to decompress is needed once this has been reached, regardless of the time spent underwater. Throughout the project, different mixes of gases at different depths were used and it was observed that if the majority of the breathing gas was helium, all the subjects survived at varying depths for different lengths of time.

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