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Atmospheric pressure:

Yes, really. Weve assumed that youre at sea level and that the area of the top of your
head and shoulders is 0.1 square metres, but thats not unreasonable. So how could it
be possible that youre carrying around the equivalent of a small car all the time?
The weight of air
Even though theyre too tiny to see, all the molecules of air in the atmosphere above
your head weigh something. And the combined weight of these molecules causes a
pressure pressing down on your body of 10,000 kg per square metre. This means that
the mass of the air above the 0.1 square metre cross section of your body is 1,000 kg,
or a tonne.
If you tried to lift a small car, youd certainly notice it, so why dont we notice that
theres a tonne of air pressing down on us? Well, the air exerts this force in all directions,
so as well as pushing down on us, it also pushes up and balances out the force on our
bodies so that we dont collapse.
Crushing pressure
Human bodies are used to air pressure. The air pressure in our lungs, ears and stomachs
is the same as the air pressure outside of our bodies, which ensures that we dont get
crushed. Our bodies are also flexible enough to cope when the internal and external
pressures arent exactly the same. Aeroplanes need pressurised cabins to compensate
for the lower air pressure at high altitudes. Despite this artificial atmosphere, the air
pressure inside an aeroplane is not the same as at sea level. You might have noticed
that if you drink from a plastic bottle during a flight and put the lid back on, when you
land the bottle will be crushed. This is because the air in the bottle is at the lower
pressure of the cabin and it cant withstand the higher air pressure at ground level.
Youve probably also noticed that your ears pop during the take off or landing of a flight.
This is caused by the difference in air pressure on either side of your ear drums and the
only way to equalise the pressures is to yawn, suck a sweet or breathing out whilst
holding your nose.
Why are you not crushed by atmospheric pressure?
Answer 1:
Our bodies are strong enough to resist the forces that compress us.A good analogy is
blowing up a balloon. When the balloon is small even though the pressure of air inside
the balloon exceeds the surrounding pressure, the strength of the elastic balloon is great
enough to support the difference in pressure. but if one keeps blowing up the balloon,
the elastic membrane (i.e. the balloon) gets thinner and thinner and the pressure
difference gets bigger and bigger until the elastic strength of the balloon is exceeded
You can test this theory by buying balloons of different skin thickness and seeing which
one pops first. The maximum size before popping should correlate with the thickness of
the balloon skin measured before blowing up. You will need to use a micrometer to
measure the thickness of the balloon.

Answer 2:
It is because we have evolved so that our internal pressure matches the atmospheric
pressure, so we are in equilibrium. When you go up in an airplane, your ears tend to

hurt until you can get them to pop because, at that altitude, your internal pressure is
greater than the external pressure, so until you can get your ears to "pop" - that is, your
internal pressure to equalize with the external pressure, you feel pain.
Now, because physicists always like to think of what happens in the extreme, let's ask:
knowing that your internal pressure is equalized by evolution to atmospheric pressure of
14.7 pounds / square inch, what would happen if:
1) You go into space without a space suit? - you would stretch out like a balloon, due to
the elasticity of your skin; then you would burst due to the fact that your internal
pressure is 14.7 pounds/square inch but the outside pressure is ZERO!And then all the
liquid in your body would instantly freeze. YUCH!!
2) What would happen if you go to the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean without
a diving bell? You guessed it: you would implode due to the excessive external pressure!