Physics KS3 / GCSE: How the vacuum of space effects the human body

Dr Kevin Fong uses an audience member from the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures to demonstrate the effect on the human body of going into space without a space suit.

He uses a marshmallow to model the boy’s head, a glass of water to model his stomach contents and a balloon to model his lungs.

These items are placed inside a bell jar, which is then evacuated using a pump.

The marshmallow expands, the balloon bursts and the water boils at its existing temperature of 37 degrees Celsius.

Kevin explains that boiling is not solely caused by increasing temperature.

This clip is from the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2015.

Teacher Notes

You can use this clip to challenge students’ understanding of the process of boiling and how it is affected by pressure.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching KS3 and GCSE Physics.

This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

More from the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2015

What is Newton's Canon and Third Law?
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Using Earth’s rotation to launch a rocket
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Resonant Frequency
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Orbital Rendezvous
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What does gas weigh?
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Why are bones weaker in orbit?
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How micro-gravity disorientates us
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The danger of orbital debris
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Demonstrating heat shield material
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Why Earth rock is found on the Moon
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Demonstrating radiation detectors
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How Earth protects us from radiation
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Why tardigrades can survive in orbit
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How to recycle urine in space
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